Chapter 98 Rise or Fall
Zhuang Huayang was widowed in middle age. His son was chief of staff of a major army group in the Northern Theater of Operations and held the military rank of Major General. His daughter-in-law, who was also working in the military system, was a Major in the General Logistics Department and was away from home all year round. Therefore, except his granddaughter Qin Ke, who also worked in the Sky Academy, would occasionally come to stay for a few days, most of the time, Zhuang Huayang lived alone in the villa located in the center of the Sky Academy.
Therefore, the old man concentrated his residence and office in the villa. The villa also became the place where several of his staff worked.
He had two secretaries, an assistant, a driver, a cook, two housekeepers who had undergone strict political scrutiny, and a gardener. Although there were only a few personnel in the villa that was so big, at least they brought it some vitality, and Zhuang Huayang, who was in his old age, would not feel too lonely.
It was Li Tianlan’s first visit to this villa.
Looking at the flowers and bamboo forest around the villa that had nothing to do with ironness and mighty, he couldn’t help laughing and saying softly, “You’re in good spirits, headmaster.”
“I’m old, I don’t like to fight, and I don’t have my children around me. Apart from dealing with official business, I only have these flowers and fish to keep me company every day.”
Zhuang Huayang passed the pool and pointed at it casually. A fine rain fell from the sky into the pool and caused ripples that spread all over the pool. A lot of fish swam in the ripples, their bodies looking clear yet vague, and the artistic conception was extraordinary.
Li Tianlan looked at the fish in the pool with interest. The shoals of fish were brightly colored and they swam lightly. Several of them were very large and indeed very fat. He touched his chin and said casually, “Headmaster, are the fish edible? How about I make you some extra food for dinner? I’m good at cooking fish.”
“Even if they’re edible, you can’t catch them. If your Miss Qin know that, she will fight you like hell. The fish are her treasures. If I forget to feed the fish once, she can ignore me for days.”
Zhuang Huayang said with an angry smile. He passed the pool and entered the villa first.
Li Tianlan was confused. He shook his head slightly as he thought of Qin Ke, the deputy director of teaching, whose face was cold. He had no idea that the iceberg beauty had such a soft heart.
The two entered the villa in tandem and walked straight to the third floor. Zhuang Huayang walked into a spacious but remarkably simple office. He looked at his watch and said calmly, “There is a lounge, where I meditate at ordinary times. I promise no one will bother you. You can recover there and come back later if you need to break through.”
Li Tianlan made a noise in agreement and opened the box in his hand. In the box, a complete set of Immortality Potions were still active. Purple liquid stirred slightly in the containers, and he could take the potions about two hours later.
Li Tianlan closed the box and waited silently. In a way, his path of achieving invincible now lay within the box in front of him.
“Do you want to meditate first to adjust your state?”
Zhuang Huayang asked.
Li Tianlan shook his head and suddenly said, “No, thanks. Do you have an appointment with Tribulation?”
Zhuang Huayang nodded. Before he could speak, there was a knock at the door.
The old headmaster froze for a short while and then said calmly, “Come in.”
The door was pushed open from outside. Qin Ke, the deputy director of the teaching of the Sky Academy, walked into the office. She was followed by a shadow.
The shadow was silent, forbearing, and his behaviors were erratic.
This was the second time Li Tianlan had seen Tribulation—the first assassin of Zhongzhou State and even the Dark World.
But even though he knew his identity and strength, Li Tianlan couldn’t help fixing his eyes on Qin Ke at first glance.
That wasn’t because Qin Ke was too beautiful. On beauty, mature and indifferent Director Qin was naturally the best choice. But after Li Tianlan owned Qin Weibai, the sheer beauty of the face had hardly surprised him. He had first seen her because Tribulation’s presence was so easily overlooked.
He was obviously the top assassin and killer, and the most dangerous source. Anyone could feel the danger and sharpness beneath the surface of his silence, but they just couldn’t notice him.
This feeling was absurd and weird. The instinctive danger irritated Li Tianlan’s skin, and for a moment, it even made his hair stand on end.
Li Tianlan took a deep breath, stood up and called Miss Qin. He looked at Tribulation and opened his mouth, not knowing what to call him.
Tribulation was Situ Cangyue’s younger brother and his father’s student. While Situ Cangyue was his father’s confidante.
The seniority of the three was a little confused. Looking at Tribulation now, Li Tianlan just felt it was inappropriate to call him anything.
“Should I call him uncle or elder brother?”
The corners of his mouth twitched, and he finally said in a hoarse voice, “Hello, teacher.”
“Teacher Li said that he just recruited a disciple (me) for my master—his father. So he kept asking me to call him senior brother. In those days, I was not qualified to call him senior brother, but if I ask you to call me martial uncle, I don’t think it’s too hard for you, is it?”
Li Tianlan paused. The Teacher Li that Tribulation mentioned was surely his father. If his father had recruited a disciple for Tribulation’s master, Tribulation would have been his grandfather Li Honghe’s pupil in terms of seniority. It was only natural, then, to call him so.
Li Tianlan nodded, bowed slightly to Tribulation, and said in a respectful tone, “Martial uncle.”
“You’re not bad.”
Tribulation still wore a mask, a silver one that covered his entire face. However, his silent eyes were shining with strange brilliance. He took a deep look at Li Tianlan and continued, “Teacher Li can close his eyes relievedly.”
“Close his eyes relievedly?”
Li Tianlan straightened up slightly, shook his head, and said calmly, “How can he close his eyes relievedly when I haven’t avenged his death and washed away his grievances?”
Although Qin Ke had already known Li Tianlan’s identity from her grandfather and had enough psychological preparation, hearing Li Tianlan’s calm but sharp words, her heart still couldn’t help shaking.
“How can he close his eyes relievedly when I haven’t avenged his death and washed away his grievances?”
This seemed to be a simple sentence. No matter Li Tianlan would succeed or fail in the future, Zhongzhou’s Special Warfare System was destined to experience a bloody storm.
“Wait till you’re powerful enough, you can avenge his death and clear him of a false charge.”
Tribulation’s voice was calm and hoarse. He bowed slightly to Li Tianlan and expressed his attitude in the clearest way for the first time. “Sigh City will become the sharpest weapon in your hand, Young Governor. We’ll grant all your wishes.”
It was the second time Li Tianlan had heard similar words, and the first time occurred in Dongcheng Clan.
His heart was beating violently, and his hot blood was flowing upward, making his face a little red.
Perhaps it had never occurred to his father that, in the years after his death, the student he had taught would grow into the sharpest and most mysterious assassin of the Dark World, nor did it occur to him that his confidante would become the Governor of Sigh City, whose name terrify the Dark World.
And all this henceforth would become his own power.
Li Tianlan spoke softly, and his voice was calm and firm enough to pierce metal and stone. “That day will not be far off.”
Seeing it all with their own eyes, Zhuang Huayang and Qin Ke had complicated looks in their eyes.
Zhuang Huayang may be the only one in the office who knew what he had witnessed at this moment.
In the office of the head of the Sky Academy, the two men bowed to each other, symbolising Sigh City’s first transfer of power. It also proved that after standing aloof from worldly affairs for many years, Sigh City had entered the Jianghu of Zhongzhou State, which was full of ups and downs, fierce battles, and mutual deception, for the first time.
The general trend was roaring ahead.
Zhuang Huayang felt honored to witness all this with his own eyes and had a feeling of being an ant before the general trend.
Qin Ke—another onlooker, did not have this kind of feeling apparently. At the moment Tribulation bent slightly, as the deputy director of the teaching of the Sky Academy, she unconsciously wanted to lean forward to support him. Only after Zhuang Huayang glared at her, she reluctantly stood where she was. She did not move, but she looked at Li Tianlan with anger in her eyes again.
Qin Ke entered the Thunder-shocking Realm at the age of 31.
She was a celebrated genius throughout the Special Warfare System of Zhongzhou State. Since she began to practice Martial Arts, what she admired and appreciated most was Situ Cangyue, a female Invincible Realm expert.
However, what she worshipped most was not Zhongzhou Sword Emperor and God of War.
It was Tribulation!
This was not a big surprise. In the entire Dark World, untold assassins and killers had the same idea as her.
Sword Emperor was indeed invincible.
God of War was really strong.
But for countless killers and assassins, Tribulation was the true faith, the pioneer.
He entered the Thunder-shocking Realm at the age of 26 and his strength skyrocketed from then on. He intended to enter the Invincible Realm directly from the Qi-controlling Realm and created Buddhist Incantation of Nine Words that was not inferior to the Great Soaring Temple. For hundreds of years, he was known as the most talented and daring assassin.
There were two unique skills in the Buddhist Incantation of Nine Words he created. They represented two totally different paths to the Invincible Realm. You could disapprove of such a person and treat him as a lunatic, but you couldn’t help admiring him.
Once such a person entered the Invincible Realm, he could achieve a higher ranking on the Divine List and surpass his elder sister Situ Cangyue, even if he had no murderous weapons. If his path had not been so rocky, countless people in the Dark World would have followed his example long ago.
As one of Tribulation’s admirers, whatever the reason, Qin Ke did not want to see her idol bow.
“You are welcome, Young Governor.”
Tribulation straightened up and said calmly, “You don’t have to rush to break through, since you’re at the Qi-controlling Realm now. When you recover from your injury, I will share with you what I have learned in my life. I hope you can break through the Qi-controlling Realm with the most perfect state. The path you’re going to take will help you become a Heavenly Son rather than merely an invincible person.”
Li Tianlan grabbed the box containing the Immortal Series, without saying anything, and looked at Zhuang Huayang.
Zhuang Huayang pointed to the lounge and said nothing.
Li Tianlan completely gave up the idea to break through the Qi-controlling Realm with the help of the potions. He went to the lounge, without hesitation.
The restroom was more simply decorated. Aside from a single bed, all that was left was a meditation blanket.
Li Tianlan sat on the blanket and sniffed the soothing scent in the air that would bring him more quickly into a meditative state. His mind was becoming clearer and clearer.
In the office, Tribulation stood at the window, looking at the rain outside through it, and turned into an unnoticed shadow once again.
Time was slipping away in silence.
The three people in the office were thinking, without saying a word.
“Cool Breeze and Drifting Cloud will be out of Sigh City soon.”
There was a long silence before Tribulation spoke abruptly. “One will go to Youzhou, and the other will come to Huating.”
Cool Breeze and Drifting Cloud.
They were two top assassins who were knowns as two geniuses of Sigh City. They left Sigh City, not on a mission, but to two of the most important cities in Zhongzhou State.
What did that mean?
Zhuang Huayang tensed his body subconsciously.
He was well aware that Tribulation intended to draw a degree of support from the Academics for Sigh City by saying so.
Such support was also what the Academics was happy to give.
But the deep implication of this matter…
“Are you ready?”
Zhuang Huayang asked in a deep voice.
If Sigh City no longer dwelt in the northeast and reappeared in Jianghu after many years, their conflicts between Kunlun City, the Wang family of Beihai, and even some wealthy families in the Special Warfare Group would immediately become extremely acute. This action was too aggressive.
“I know that you want to pave the way for Tianlan, but are you in a hurry?”
Zhuang Huayang asked again, looking at Tribulation, who still remained silent.
“It’s the right time now.”
Tribulation’s voice was cool and indifferent.
Zhuang Huayang kept quiet.
Sigh City was totally different from the Academics.
The stances of Sigh City and Li Tianlan were exactly the same, that was why they would act so decisively.
But the Academics wooed Li Tianlan for political interests.
At this stage, Li Tianlan showed his potential and the Academics was willing to do something for his future, such as protecting his safety and giving him time to become powerful. However, some things were, after all, too sensitive, like Li Tianlan’s identity and the case of treason.
The Academics was willing to protect Li Tianlan, which was totally different from the concept that the Academics would like to fight with Kunlun City for Li Tianlan.
Even if Li Tianlan were to enter the Invincible Realm in the future, it was impossible for the Academics to have an overall bad relationship with Kunlun City and suppress it for him, unless it was really at the end of its tether.
To put it simply, no matter how much support Li Tianlan received from the Academics, it was limited. No matter what would happen in the future, the Academics would always have a way out.
Nonetheless, Sigh City was totally different.
During the time that Li Tianlan was enhancing his strength, Sigh City directly began to pave the way for him. Clearly, it was determined to go through thick and thin together with him.
If Li Tianlan were to fail in the future, the entire Sigh City would vanish because of his failure, unless his identity was never revealed, so was his relationship with Sigh City.
Zhuang Huayang asked Tribulation if he was ready, in fact, he asked if Sigh City had really thought over it.
And Tribulation’s answer spoke for itself.
The Academics had no such courage, because it did not have such a stance. It had no intention of fighting with Kunlun City, although it wooed Li Tianlan. From the beginning, it did that for the interests, and that would be the case in the future.
“There’s so much involved. If it fails…”
“I’ll bear the consequences.”
Before Zhuang Huayang could finish his sentence, Tribulation interrupted him directly and his voice was growing calmer and more determined.
He suddenly turned his head and looked at Qin Ke, asking, “Director Qin, would you like to join Sigh City?”
Zhuang Huayang’s expression changed greatly. Before he could speak, Qin Ke was overjoyed and answered without hesitation, “I’d like to follow Her Highness Hidden God.”
“Not Her Highness Hidden God.”
Tribulation corrected Qin Ke earnestly. “It’s the Young Governor.”
Qin Ke nodded after hesitating for a short while. She looked at the lounge and remained silent.
The man she and Tribulation were going to follow was now recovering his injuries in there.
“The descendant of the Li family?”
Her eyes drifted as she thought of his terrifying potential.
If Li Tianlan could graduate as the first place in both academies and form his own force, how big a storm would there be in Zhongzhou State when his identity was revealed and Sigh City was under his command?
Behind that storm, would a Heavenly Son rose or the family of Gods of War completely fell?
Qin Ke pressed her rosy lips together.
The storm was looming on the horizon.
At the same time.
In the lounge.
Li Tianlan, who was meditating, opened his eyes and opened the box in front of him.
Inside the box, the whole set of Immortality Potions were fully activated.
The purple liquid of the second version of Immortality Potion was slightly undulating, twinkling with endless vitality, magnificent and gorgeous.
Li Tianlan looked calm. He unconsciously touched his white hair, and with the other hand, he grasped the vessel containing the second version of Immortality Potion.
This was the very thing that could heal him.
This was something that could even make him have greater potential.
Li Tianlan’s eyes were deep and peaceful. Between reality and illusion, there seemed to be a path that was reflected in front of him.
There were blood and bones, glory and suffering, laughter and sad melody, heavy rain and snow on that road.
The road was thorny yet unusually smooth.
It had everything except for the route of retreat.
He could only march forward and struggle to be better.
The broad road stretched before him as if it connected the end of the sky.
Li Tianlan unscrewed the cap of the vessel in his hand and poured the purple liquid directly into his mouth.