Ling Lan was a cute drunk — she did not start babbling nonsense, nor did she fly into a drunken rage. She only fell asleep silently, a saliva bubble popping up at the edge of her lips every once in a while.
This adorable sight made Lan Luofeng laugh despite her annoyance. She had just taken her eyes off this child for a moment and she had gone and gotten herself drunk on red wine. Still, this was the only time Ling Lan really looked like a true six year old child, sleeping innocently without a care in the world.
Lan Luofeng knew that these couple of years had actually been really tough on Ling Lan. Every day she had training assignments, and Lan Luofeng had watched with tearful eyes as she trained till she dropped. (In truth, Little Four had notified Ling Lan that time was up so she would get some rest. It wasn’t that Ling Lan was slacking off, but her body was really still too weak. Overexerting her body now in training would only cause irreparable harm, harm that even the Qi exercises would not be able to repair.)
Lan Luofeng could not stop her training however, because she knew that this would benefit Ling Lan greatly in the future. The Federation was a world where the fittest survived — an extra measure of strength meant an extra measure of safety. For Ling Lan’s future, she had to harden her heart.
Lan Luofeng quickly bundled Ling Lan up and carried her to her room. Ever since Ling Lan could clearly communicate what she wanted, she had demanded a personal room of her own. Lan Luofeng was an overindulgent mother with no bottom-line when it came to her child, so she had caved with minimal fuss and provided a lone room for Ling Lan.
Carefully placing Ling Lan on her bed, Lan Luofeng dropped a light kiss on Ling Lan’s adorable round face and then shut the door behind her as she left. What she didn’t know was that, though Ling Lan looked as if she was sound asleep, her consciousness had actually been dragged ruthlessly into the mind-space by Instructor Number One.
Ling Lan felt extremely wobbly, finding it rather difficult to stay on her feet, and the things she looked at seemed to waver in her sight.
She felt a little nauseous and so quickly squatted down, gripping her head. Ling Lan just had to squat, lest she fall over the very next second from losing her balance.
"Hmph. How dare you drink." Number One’s expression darkened further at the sight, and with a flick of his finger, a basinful of cold water splashed down upon Ling Lan from above. The sudden shock caused Ling Lan to shiver uncontrollably and her muddled senses abruptly came into focus.
"Instructor Number One, you look well!" Ling Lan smiled awkwardly as she lifted her head, her expression pleading for mercy.
"I am very not well." Instructor Number One paid no mind to Ling Lan’s pleading, giving her no face as he told her in no uncertain terms that he was angry.
Instructor Number One’s words made Ling Lan break out into cold sweat — without even having to ask, she knew that the ‘not well’ Instructor Number One was talking about had something to do with her. Could it be that she had somehow irritated this fearsome demon instructor without even knowing it?
Looking at Ling Lan’s bewildered face, Instructor Number One raged, "In today’s fight, what were you doing?! Is that how you were meant to use what Number Nine had taught you?"
Ling Lan was indignant, "I managed to hit the examiner."
"Well you could have hit him directly without having to resort to trickery! If you do this again, don’t blame me for punishing you." Instructor Number One firmly believed that honest strength was the true path — any sort of underhanded tricks were all dishonest methods, which should not be relied upon.
Ling Lan paid no mind to the mention of punishment, but asked in surprise, "You mean that, I can actually hit the examiner with my own strength right now?" If that was the case, then why had she felt so overpowered? That the opponent’s strength was so much higher than her own? Was it all an illusion?
But then, all three of them had already used up all their strength and skills to fight the examiner for so long … it was only when they were running out of strength that they had thought up that trick to hit the examiner. Of course, Ling Lan didn’t think that using tricks was wrong or unfair — on the battlefield, survival was the only principle.
"That’s right. In today’s battle, you missed three opportunities." That said, Number One flicked yet another finger and the scene of today’s battle appeared before Ling Lan’s eyes.
"The first sneak attack was done well at the beginning. You remembered what Number Nine had told you, and kept your killing intent hidden, but when you were just about to succeed, your heart wavered." Number One pointed at the scene, showing how when Ling Lan’s punch was just about to hit the examiner, there was a fluctuation in her aura. This little fluctuation had let the examiner sense her attack, which was how he had managed to block her attack in that final second.
"For the second sneak attack, you made the exact same mistake, losing your attention at the critical moment." Number One’s voice grew colder and colder, and he looked as if he wished he could drag Ling Lan over to give her a good beating right now. She had obviously learned everything properly — why was she making such stupid mistakes in a real fight? If Ling Lan had only fought as she had trained, the examiner would have been hit by that very first move.
"What angers me the most is that you don’t even know how to change your own attack approach. Using the same moves over and over again — after failing in a sneak attack twice, even an idiot would know to watch out for your sneak attacks … and still you persisted with sneak attacks! Is your head filled with the brain of a pig?" Instructor Number One’s rage was incandescent as he observed Ling Lan’s third attempt at a sneak attack playing out before them.
"After being discovered, it’s alright to just fight directly with the opponent, but what were you thinking using all your might for every single move? What will you use then to defend yourself? Also, don’t you know how to mix in some feints among your real moves? Here, when your right elbow was blocked, and you continued to use your left elbow — both the opponent’s arms had been used for defense, and because of your friend’s attack on his waist, his only usable leg had been neutralised. Why didn’t you take the chance to attack his lower body? Didn’t you learn the Scorpion Tail Swipe? This was clearly a great chance for you to score a hit. What disappoints me the most is that you did not notice any of the errors you made during your fight, or even the missed chances — you are literally a combat idiot."
Many prodigies would often notice their own weaknesses during battle, but unfortunately, Ling Lan did not notice anything at all in her fight up till the very end. Even now, she had still been pleased with herself over her successful trick, which was why Instructor Number One was so angry. "If it wasn’t the fact that the opponent wanted to know how much you all could do, you would have already been killed at this point." Instructor Number One rolled back the scene to when she had started facing the examiner directly, pointing out how the examiner had stopped many of his moves halfway through so as to avoid injuring Ling Lan.
Under Instructor Number One’s detailed analysis, Ling Lan grew more and more ashamed. She had really thought she had performed pretty well in that battle, but who knew that she had actually done so badly, making mistake after mistake. Her elation at having hit the examiner today disappeared without a trace, leaving behind a cold ball of shame in her gut and her back drenched with sweat.
"Looks like we need to have a round of wilderness training. We’ll see what to do next after you learn how to hunt!" Instructor Number One coolly announced Ling Lan’s fate.
Before Ling Lan could ask any questions or beg for mercy, Instructor Number One had flicked his finger once again. Ling Lan saw the scenery change around her, and then she was standing in a primordial forest with Number One. She could hear the sound of a flowing stream in the distance, as well as the fearsome calls of some unknown wild beasts.
Ling Lan’s little heart felt like it was beating out of her chest. Although she had never spent much time in a forest before, she knew that this type of place was rife with danger — not only were there wild beasts wandering around, nature itself was an intimidating thing, and there were also other unknown terrors lurking within.
Ling Lan’s face fell rapidly, however, she knew that this hunting mission was definitely unavoidable. This year had taught her that once Instructor Number One had made up his mind, nothing was going to change it.
Still, she intended to try and plead with Instructor Number One for just a little more preparation time, so she could go back and ask Little Four for some wilderness survival tips. Unfortunately, Instructor Number One saw through her plans, and without giving her the chance to speak he said, please enjoy yourself, and promptly disappeared in a flash of light from this endlessly verdant world.
Dammit! Number One, you are truly vicious!
Ling Lan savagely directed her middle finger towards the direction where Number One had been standing in a display of futile anger.