Chapter 6-Strength Testing
Zhongzhou State was a country of 1.6 billion people. If the authorities were to summarize all kinds of information to sort out a list of the top ten experts in Zhongzhou State, then, Zhuang Huayang, the General of Zhongzhou State, also the headmaster of the Sky Academy, would be among them without a doubt.
Zhuang Huayang was in his seventies. However, he kept in good health, so his horrifying combat capability still had no sign of decline.
A few years ago, when Zhongzhou State was once again in conflict with a foreign force that had been hovering on its borders, Zhuang Huayang assumed leadership and headed to the border. In the final moment, the old man in his sixties fought the decisive battle personally. He alone pursued the enemy troops for nearly 200 kilometers and killed nearly 800 foreign elites of special warfare overnight before escaping unscathed. After this battle, his reputation, which had been gradually declining under the suppression of the headmaster of another Special Warfare Academy named the Deep-sea Academy, soared again and thoroughly overshadowed General Chen Songlin, the headmaster of the Deep-sea Academy.
In recent years, the annual year-end joint maneuvers of the Sky Academy and the Deep-sea Academy had become more and more intense with more and more people bleeding. Perhaps that was because the students from the two academies had been trying hard to win credit for their headmasters.
Zhuang Huayang valued health maintenance a lot. He had never maltreated himself even in the Sky Academy, which was full of blood and tension. Instead, he built a modern villa in the central area of the Sky Academy with great fanfare.
The villa covered an area of nearly 2,000 square meters and was surrounded by hundreds of flowers. Thus, a large garden that circled around the entire villa formed and it was somewhere the sweet scent of flowers could be smelt all the year round. In front of the villa, there was a well-shaped pool with limpid flowing water inside, which could feed hundreds of koi. There were a bamboo forest and a few fruit trees to the left and right of the pool respectively. The bamboo leaves and flowers were moving gently in the breeze under the bright sunshine. People would find themselves in a land of idyllic beauty where they would feel relaxed and happy when they walked into the villa.
Like Li Tianlan, it was the first time that Qin Weibai came to the Sky Academy. And it was also the first time that she came to the residence of Zhuang Huayang, the legendary General of Zhongzhou State. So when she came to a villa that was almost surrounded by flowers and plants under the leadership of Yu Donglai, a surprised expression involuntarily emerged on her delicate face.
“Surprised? This old fellow is shrewd and ruthless when handling matters and he is quite a man. But he likes to fiddle with these flowers and plants and claims that it is able to cultivate his mind.”
“When I was young, I used to scoff at that sort of thing, but I’m convinced in recent years. Twenty years ago, in terms of combat capability, I would have outmaneuvered him with all my means being used. But now? Hehe, I guess I am only able to cause him some trouble. This guy is very fastidious, and this can be seen from every detail of his basic necessities of life. The flowers and plants outside are just a small part of it.”
Walking in front, Yu Donglai seemed to have seen Qin Weibai’s facial expression. He said as he pointed at the surrounding flowers and plants, laughing.
“What a rare thing to see you behave so modestly, old man! Headmaster Zhuang is indeed powerful, but that was a few years ago. As he gets older, his strength will surely decline. If there is a gap between your strength, it is not as horrifying as you just said, is it? You’re exaggerating. I guess your strength is now a hair’s breadth away from his.”
Qin Weibai withdrew her line of sight from the surrounding flowers and plants and teased him in a relaxed way.
“A hair’s breadth?”
Yu Donglai shook his head with a self-deprecating look. “You don’t know Martial Arts. When a man is as strong as Old Zhuang and me in the strength, a hair’s breadth is a gap between heaven and earth, in fact. And now it’s flattering to say that there is merely a hair’s breadth between my strength and his. I’m an old man whose strength will fall back to the Fire-flaming Realm from the Thunder-shocking Realm at any moment. I’m no match for Old Zhuang, whose strength is at least at the Peak of the Thunder-shocking Realm. I’m not modest because I am just telling the truth.”
“Is that so?”
Qin Weibai’s eyes flickered as if she was thinking about something. Obviously, she had a pair of very bright eyes. When her eyes swept around, she looked ethereal like a fairy and her appeal to men skyrocketed.
“That’s true. But what Old Yu said is right and wrong at the same time. When we fight each other at the risk of life, I can kill him in less than five minutes if I try my best with my combat capability. But if it isn’t a head-to-head fight, with an old opponent like him, I wouldn’t be able to fall asleep.”
A gentle voice rang out near the pool in front of the villa and interrupted Qin Weibai’s thinking.
Qin Weibai looked cold and calm. A man holding a handful of fish food appeared in her sight as she raised her head. She greeted him calmly, “Headmaster Zhuang.”
“I’m Zhuang Huayang.”
The man smiled and nodded. From his appearance alone, no one could imagine that this was a man as old as Yu Donglai. They were both 70 years old, however, Yu Donglai’s face was wrinkled and his body was bent, while Zhuang Huayang was tall and straight with black hair. He looked energetic as if he were not yet fifty. He sprinkled all the fish food into the pool, resulting in the koi vying for food and water splashing. Seeing all, Zhuang Huayang smiled more warmly. He glanced at Yu Donglai and asked calmly, “Old Yu, Who is this?”
“Qin Weibai, the little girl who learned cooking from me. I’ve told you about her.”
Yu Donglai replied with a smile. Absent-mindedly, he fixed his eyes on the koi competing for fish food in the pool.
Zhuang Huayang slightly narrowed his eyes and asked, “Is she Boss Qin from the Pre-Qin International Group?”
Qin Weibai said in a voice without any ups and downs, “Headmaster Zhuang, nice to meet you.”
“It’s my pleasure.”
Zhuang Huayang beamed widely without concealing the amazement and appreciation in his eyes. “I’ve long heard that Boss Qin is the first beauty of Huating. I always felt that others are exaggerating, but after seeing you in person, I think they were too modest.”
“You are overpraising me, headmaster.”
Qin Weibai returned a courtesy smile and calmly omitted Zhuang Huayang’s surname while addressing him. She managed to bring them close by doing so.
“I’m not overpraising you. Boss Qin is worthy of the comment ‘national beauty’.”
Zhuang Huayang laughed heartily and said, “Come on, let’s go in and talk. Old Yu hasn’t come over for some time and Boss Qin is an honored guest to boot. Some time ago, one of my students sent me some good tea. Let’s have a taste of it today.”
“If you don’t mind, just call me Little Qin or Little Bai, headmaster. ‘Boss Qin’ sounds too distant.”
Qin Weibai followed Zhuang Huayang into the villa and said inadvertently.
Zhuang Huayang paused for a short while as he stepped on the steps of the villa, with Yu Donglai and Qin Weibai behind him. His eyes suddenly became deep and distant.
To call Qin Weibai, who was from the Pre-Qin International Group, Little Bai?
Not everyone was qualified to do so.
Although he was a General of Zhongzhou State, Zhuang Huayang didn’t think he was qualified to do so either.
The Pre-Qin International Group was an emerging group that had just risen from Huating in recent years. Its main business was venture investment. In terms of scale, in the venture capital industry of the entire Huating and even Zhongzhou State, Pre-Qin International Group could be regarded as a first-tier group. This new group operated with great fanfare, but on the contrary, Boss Qin Weibai always kept a low profile. She never accepted any interviews and even rarely went to the corporate headquarters located in Huating’s Central Tower. All this covered Qin Weibai, a 24-year-old woman, with a hint of mysterious color.
Almost everyone in the upper circles of Huating knew the Pre-Qin International Group, but few knew Qin Weibai. Only the richest men in Huating knew that this young woman was the boss of the Pre-Qin International Group.
If that was all about her, Zhuang Huayang thought he could call her Little Qin with his mind at ease. However, all kinds of data showed that the Pre-Qin International Group was only a part of the strength that she revealed to the outside world. It may be exaggerated to say that it was the tip of the iceberg, but it was certain that the Pre-Qin International Group was definitely not everything that she possessed.
She was rarely known by people in Huating or even Zhongzhou State, but she attracted the attention of countless big shots in certain circles of higher-ups.
And in circles that were more influential and powerful, the layer of mysterious aura on her would become more dazzling.
Qin Weibai, 24 years old, female, born in the Year of the Rabbit.
Nine years ago, she came to Huating from a mountain village in western Zhongzhou State. Eight years ago, at the age of 16, she left Zhongzhou State and stole into another country. And when she reappeared in Huating three years ago, she had become a woman worth tens of billions of dollars.
What was more perplexing was that as a woman who seemed to know nothing about Martial Arts, she was escorted by big crowds of experts after coming back from abroad. The Pre-Qin International Group appeared to be a venture capital group, but there were more than 20 experts who had entered the Four Realms of Martial Arts inside the group. This was the most conservative estimate.
Of the 1.6 billion people in Zhongzhou State, how many were able to enter the Four Realms of Martial Arts? Only a few people managed to enter the primary Qi-controlling Realm. Of course, a venture capital firm that had so many experts would successfully attract the attention of the Ministry of State Security of Zhongzhou State.
Led by a senior deputy minister known for his combat capability, the investigation team of the Ministry of State Security entered Huating without hesitation. The investigation was conducted with great fanfare, but it ended up with nothing definite at last.
It was said that during the investigation, Qin Weibai personally went to the capital Youzhou and naturally went into the vision of those higher-ups. Within three days, the investigation team withdrew from Huating and the Pre-Qin International Group developed smoothly since then.
Even though Zhuang Huayang was a General of Zhongzhou State, he still had his head in the clouds concerning things related to Qin Weibai. He was vaguely aware that at least she had connections in higher-ups in the capital and her backer was very likely to be a big shot in politics. However, this was just speculation that had not been confirmed.
After the investigation team withdrew from Huating, the Pre-Qin International Group had never received help from any force in the capital. When a few people in Huating was still speculating about her background, Qin Weibai, a young woman in her twenties, had most people witnessed her potent and sharp means.
Generally speaking, Qin Weibai was probably a figure supported by the highest authorities or a woman with no power backing her as well. But anyhow, no one was qualified to belittle her because she had the guts to steal into another country when she was just a teenager. Furthermore, it only took her, a young woman, less than ten years, to accumulate such a large sum of money.
Zhuang Huayang was not clear what kind of power did Qin Weibai possess, but he was certain that even though her power was not strong enough to shake him, a General of Zhongzhou State, at the very least, there was no need for her to come over and suck up to him.
As thus, Zhuang Huayang almost could make sure that this Boss Qin was going to ask him a favor by visiting him abruptly.
The three people entered the lavishly decorated villa successively. Instead of going into the study, they sat down in the living room. Zhuang Huayang took out a tea set and added water to make tea. Meanwhile, he glanced at Qin Weibai who was sitting gracefully on the sofa and suddenly smiled, saying, “Boss Qin, you wouldn’t come to me today if you hadn’t something to ask of me. I like to cut to the chase, so if there’s anything you want me to do, please don’t hesitate to speak. I will not refuse things that I am able to do, and for things that I am unable to do, I will speak frankly. After making clear of the proper business, I can have my mind at ease when I call you Little Bai. Is that the case?”
Qin Weibai and Yu Donglai were stunned at the same time.
“Hey… Old Zhuang…”
Yu Donglai had a dry cough. Just when he opened his mouth, Zhuang Huayang waved his hand and interrupted him with a smile. “Old Yu, do not speak. Today is the date of enrollment of the Sky Academy, but I’ve already done everything for Qingyan, so I conclude that you have nothing important to ask me to do. You are forced by Boss Qin to be her lobbyist by visiting me especially today, right? Now Boss Qin is right in front of me, what else do you need to say? Wouldn’t it be better to just listen to her? Let’s do it like this; Boss Qin shall state her intention of coming here first and we’ll have tea after that.”
Yu Donglai forced a smiled and looked at Qin Weibai embarrassingly, saying helplessly, “That’s the way this old man dealing with matters. It’s okay, my girl. Say whatever you like and if this old bastard doesn’t agree, I won’t leave today.”
“If you said so, I’ll not stand on ceremony anymore, headmaster.”
Qin Weibai looked at Zhuang Huayang gracefully and said calmly, “Today, I took Senior Yu to come here because I want you to take care of a new student for my sake.”
“Who is it?”
Zhuang Huayang raised his eyebrows. Although he was still smiling, his eyes grew sharp.
Qin Weibai’s voice became continuously soft.
“Why does this boy again?”
Beyond Qin Weibai and Yu Donglai’s expectations, Zhuang Huayang was in no hurry to say yes or no. Instead, he frowned and muttered to himself.
“What do you mean?”
Qin Weibai immediately focused all her attention on Zhuang Huayang and asked indifferently.
Zhuang Huayang remained silent for a moment and then replied with a smile, “I would not like to deceive you, Boss Qin. An hour ago, a big shot called me and personally asked me to ‘take good care of’ a freshman named Li Tianlan.”
“But you two seemed to mean something different by saying the same words ‘take good care of’. The big shot asked me to train Li Tianlan hard. If he dies during the training, the big shot will promote my son and raise his salary. Moreover, I can be the headmaster for one more session. And if he is still alive, the big shot promised me the same things. You came to visit me and ask me to take care of Li Tianlan before I haven’t figured out what on earth the big shot meant. Boss Qin, what do you want me to do? Kill him or keep him alive?”
Qin Weibai stayed calm and collected as if she was deep in thought.
Yu Donglai, however, asked subconsciously, “Who called you, Old Zhuang?”
“I can’t tell you that.”
Zhuang Huayang said with a smile, but his eyes were observing Qin Weibai’s expression.
“Is this a phone call from Zhongyuan Province, headmaster?”
Qin Weibai asked suddenly.
Zhuang Huayang’s hand quivered slightly and he almost dropped the teapot on the ground.
Yu Donglai shouted out loudly in astonishment.
The provincial capital of Zhongyuan Province was Luojing. Although it was one of the major economic provinces of Zhongzhou State, it had not been very prominent in politics or military in recent years. If there was really a person in Zhongyuan Province who could be regarded as a big shot by Zhuang Huayang, that should be…
Yu Donglai was interrupted by Qin Weibai before he could finish speaking. “If I guess correctly, he should be that person. I wonder if I’m right, headmaster?”
Yu Donglai buttoned his lip subconsciously, but he was completely confused.
The big shot in Zhongyuan Province had nothing to do with the case of treason in those days, so why would he focus on Li Tianlan suddenly? In addition, he also gave Zhuang Huayang the instruction of either killing Li Tianlan or keeping him alive so that his son could get promotion and salary increase. What a f*cking perplexing attitude!
“I don’t know.”
Zhuang Huayang, who quickly put away his shocked expression, said with a smile, “How can I answer you since you didn’t mention his name, Boss Qin? Is it possible that you are drawing the secret out of me?”
Qin Weibai smiled gently and took the initiative to change the subject. She said slowly, “I came here today because I want you to do me a favor, headmaster. I hope Tianlan can get an opportunity to take part in the next year’s joint manoeuvre on behalf of the Sky Academy. Moreover, I also want a promise from you. I hope you can keep him alive within a year.”
“What can I get if I promise you?”
Zhuang Huayang asked straightforwardly.
“If you can promise me and live up to your promise, then I owe you a favor. I’ll return it at the right time.”
Visiting him with bare hands, Qin Weibai didn’t take out anything as he expected. She just gave him a verbal commitment.
An empty promise?
Zhuang Huayang grinned and said, “What if I say no?”
Qin Weibai lowered her head. Her beautiful face that looked unreal suddenly appeared to be cute and meek. However, her words had nothing to do with cuteness and meekness. “Since I have started my career, no one dares to refuse me if I want to owe him a favor, even he is the headmaster of the Sky Academy.”
Yu Donglai froze. It struck him that the conversation might get worse.
Zhuang Huayang didn’t fly into a great rage, instead, he narrowed his eyes and thumbed up. “What a courageous girl!”
“You are overpraising me.”
Qin Weibai’s tone of voice became continuously calm. “I am leaving Zhongzhou State tonight and will be back in a year at the latest, headmaster. During this period, if Tianlan had an accident at the Sky Academy, the whole academy would become my sworn enemy! Either I’ll kill all your family members or be killed by you!”
Mighty, overbearing, and crazy!
This was what Qin Weibai really looked like under her ethereal and fairy-like appearance.
Yu Donglai’s facial expression changed immediately. “This little girl is going to go crazy.” he thought.
“Are you threatening me, Boss Qin?”
Zhuang Huayang no longer smiled and asked coldly.
“No, I just… I really cannot lose and miss this chance.”
Looking at the water in the teapot that started boiling, Qin Weibai muttered to herself abstractedly.
Zhuang Huayang looked at Qin Weibai who was in a daze and his facial expression gradually relaxed. He said quietly after a long while, “I hope Boss Qin’s favor will be as valuable as ever.”
“I definitely will not let you down, headmaster.”
Qin Weibai directly stood up and said, “It’s time for me to take my leave.”
She nodded to Yu Donglai and went straight toward the door.
Although they parted unhappily after this conversation, she got what she wanted. At least she didn’t come here in vain.
Zhuang Huayang and Yu Donglai looked at each other in speechless despair in the villa.
Zhuang Huayang grinned after a good while and murmured, “Girls are awesome nowadays.”
“Old Zhuang, take what Little Bai just said seriously. She was not joking. “If she goes crazy, I don’t know what will happen to the Sky Academy, but at least I’m certain that you cannot live well. I have no intention of causing you trouble. You can take care of a freshman without difficulty. At least it’s better than having a mysterious opponent with infinite potential, right?”
Yu Donglai said as he looked at Zhuang Huayang solemnly.
“You are right.”
Zhuang Huayang nodded and said with a smile, “But before I take care of him, at least I have to figure out his potential and what should I do. I wonder how great his potential is. How does he have the honor to be favored by the big shot in Zhongyuan and the exceptional genius Qin Weibai.”
Yu Donglai wanted to speak but stopped on second thought.
Zhuang Huayang picked up the phone next to the sofa and dialed a number. Then he narrowed his eyes and said with a smile, “Qin Ke, pay attention to a freshman named Li Tianlan and find a promising young teacher to test his strength. Remember, don’t kill him. Do it tonight.”
The headmaster of the Sky Academy hung up the phone after finishing speaking. He then looked at Yu Donglai and said smilingly, “Why don’t you stay here and enjoy the show, old man?”
Yu Donglai nodded his head in agreement with a smile after hesitated for a short while.