The wheel of red fire, the sun slowly sank down on the west side of the mountain range.
Its light was not eye-piercing, but it was a sort of bright and gentle ray.
The west sky was dyed a shade of blushful red, the sunset glow continuously spreading out. It was just like an imperial concubine who had just been rewarded, happily crowding around the emperor, wanting to sleep together with him. (1)
Qing Mao Mountain was engulfed entirely in a sea of rose red colour. Each of the tall-pillared buildings and houses were also draped over with a layer of golden yarn.
The surrounding forest planted around the academy seemed like it was wiped with a faint stratum of oil. The wind blew slowly, and as the students walked out of the classroom with their bosoms carrying the primeval stones that were just passed out, they were in a relaxed and calm state of mind.
"I really don’t know what Fang Yuan is thinking, to actually give up on the role of class chairman!"
"Heh heh heh, his brain is fried. I bet he thinks of killing people all day, let’s not concern ourselves with this kind of crazy guy."
"Come to think of it, that day when he burst into the academy I was really freaked out. It was just so terrifying, I had a nightmare on the day itself after I went home."
The students were in groups of twos and threes as they walked.
"Good day class chairman."
"Greetings class chairman."
Gu Yue Mo Bei swaggered around as he walked, and wherever he went the students would bow and greet him without exception.
His face was unable to stifle the expressions of excitement and infatuation.
This was the fascination of authority itself.
Even if it was just a tiny bit of difference in status, it could also make a person even more confident in his own self worth.
Right now as the dying sun looked as red as blood, Mo Bei watched it while his heart sang, "How is it that I have never realised before, this sunset’s rosiness sure is adorable…"
"Hmph, going head over heels just because of becoming a chairman, as if it’s so amazing." Gu Yue Chi Cheng purposely walked behind, since he just didn’t want to greet Gu Yue Mo Bei at all.
"I really have no idea what Fang Yuan is thinking about, to think he actually let go of the position of chairman. However it’s also a good thing, or else me as the third, how could I have been able to obtain the role of vice chairman?" Gu Yue Chi Cheng was confused in his heart, but he also felt happiness and relief.
"Good day vice chairman." At this moment a normal student walked past him and immediately bowed to greet him.
"Heh heh, good day to you too." Gu Yue Chi Cheng instantly nodded, his face full of smiles.
Once the student was gone, Chi Cheng naturally thought, "The taste of vice chairman is rather pleasant. I’m sure the feeling of being the class chairman is even better. If only I was not the vice chairman, but the chairman himself, how good that would be!"
The Chi Cheng who had just been rejoicing earlier was now already filled with insatiable greed, starting to amass expectations for the role of class chairman.
Under the system of the clan, each rank that was higher than the last was just like a carrot getting bigger than the previous one, deeply enticing him.
"Although I am only a C grade talent, but I believe that everything will get better and better." Gu Yue Chi Cheng was full of hope for his future.
However right now, the other vice chairman Gu Yue Fang Zheng was feeling very much terrible in his heart, his face expression also quite unsightly.
"Big brother, you!" He looked wide-eyed with disbelief at the academy’s gate entrance, where a lone figure stood.
"Old rules as usual, every person one piece of primeval stone." Fang Yuan stood while hugging his arms, his tone dull.
Fang Zheng’s mouth opened and closed a few times, then after some moments of effort he finally said, "Big brother, but I am the vice chairman now!"
"That’s true." Fang Yuan was expressionless as he nodded, giving Fang Zheng an indifferent look, "The vice chairman receives an allowance of five pieces each time. So you should give up three pieces instead."
Fang Zheng was flabbergasted, and for a moment he was unable to say a word.
A group of teenagers were crowding around Gu Yue Mo Bei as they walked over.
When they saw Fang Yuan blocking the school gate entrance, Gu Yue Mo Bei flew into a rage, his finger pointing towards Fang Yuan. "Fang Yuan! You sure have the guts to actually still dare hold us back?! Right now I am the chairman, and as a normal student when you see me, you should first bow and greet me!"
What answered him next was Fang Yuan’s fist.
Gu Yue Mo Bei was caught unexpected. After being hit by the fist, he could not refrain from retreating a few big steps backwards, his face full of disbelief. "You hit me, you actually dared to hit me? I am but the chairman!"
What answered him again was still Fang Yuan’s fists.
Bang, bang, bang.
After a few rounds of exchanging offensive and defensive blows, Gu Yue Mo Bei was knocked down to the floor by Fang Yuan, and he fell unconscious.
The surrounding youths were all wide-eyed as they watched, all of them unsure of how to react for a moment.
This was totally different from their imaginations!
The guards at the gate entrance had also been watching everything that happened under their eyelids. They could not help but whisper among themselves.
"Fang Yuan just knocked down the new class chairman, what do we do?"
"Salad dressing!" (2)
"What do you mean?"
"It means just watch them, then call some other guys and tidy up the place."
"Hey hey, you want to provoke a person like Fang Yuan? I hope you remember what happened to Wang Da and Wu Er!"
The questioning guard immediately quivered and stopped saying anymore.
The two guards at the huge gate entrance stood perfectly straight and upright. To let an incident happen right beside them, it was as if they were deaf and blind, unable to hear or see anything.
After Fang Yuan sorted out Gu Yue Mo Bei, he also dealt with Fang Zheng and Chi Cheng.
It was then that the other teenagers realised that nothing had changed. Fang Yuan was still the same old Fang Yuan, and the extortion would still continue as always.
"Each of you hand over one piece of primeval stone, vice chairmen three pieces, class chairman eight pieces." Fang Yuan announced the new rules.
The youths could only sigh and obediently fish out their primeval stones.
When they walked out of the school gates, suddenly someone slapped his head and exclaimed loudly, "I’ve thought of it, no wonder Fang Yuan did not want the position of class chairman. He wanted to continue extorting us!"
"That’s right. Everytime he does it he would get about fifty-nine piece of primeval stones, and right now it’s gone up to about sixty-eight pieces. If he was the class chairman, he’d only get ten pieces." Quite a few of them were enlightened.
"He’s too treacherous, too cunning, too savage!" Some of them were slapping their thighs, full of hatred and resentment.
"Sigh, this way it means that there’s nothing extraordinary about the position of class and vice chairman. They’ll also be extorted and be left with two pieces, just like the rest of us."
It was unknown who just spoke, but when the youngsters heard it, they all could not help but turn silent.
The academy elder slapped the table fiercely, feeling extremely furious.
"This Fang Yuan is just too absurd, what is he trying to do? To go as far as to continue extorting, taking eight pieces from the class chairman and three pieces from the vice chairman. With this, what is the difference of being a class and vice chairman in comparison with the other normal students?!" The academy elder tried his best to suppress his voice, but his tone was filled with fury.
When Fang Yuan rejected the position of class chairman, it meant rejecting his own integration into the clan’s system. In strict terms, this was a sort of betrayal towards the clan itself. This was enough to make the academy elder very angry.
Immediately after that Fang Yuan had gone to extort his fellow classmates. Hie handreach was getting further, and this had already gone beyond the academy elder’s bottom line. After the extortion this time, the influence of class chairman and vice chairman would be completely weakened.
Over time, the normal students would lose their respect and interest for these two positions.
While Fang Yuan’s actions this time seemed small, the meaning behind it was rather heavy.
It was pretty much using oneself’s own strength to challenge the clan’s system!
This was something the academy elder totally did not wish to see. He was raising the clan’s fresh new hopes, not the clan’s traitors. Yet despite knowing Fang Yuan had gone and challenge his baseline, he knew that he was unable to do anything to handle the matter.
If he really did, the first one who would not let him go would be the clan head. The second and third person to have opinions against him would be Gu Yue Chi Lian and Gu Yue Mo Chen.
The clan head put in all his hopes onto Gu Yue Fang Zheng, for Fang Zheng was the only A grade talent in three years. The clan leader needed a tenacious and independant genius, not a fragile and delicate flower who was cared for.
At the same time for Chi Lian and Mo Chen, they also had placed their hopes onto their own respective grandsons, hoping that their grandchildren would grow in the midst of setbacks and frustrations.
If the academy elder acted and replaced the students in punishing Fang yuan, once word got out then there would be the sayings of "Mo and Chi family’s future successors could not beat Fang Yuan and could only let the elders help them out."
How unpleasant that would be.
This would inevitably be a huge blow towards the fame and honor of the Mo and Chi family.
Of course the academy elder was not afraid of a small little Fang Yuan, but he was instead worried that his intervention would attract pressure from the three sides - the clan head, Mo and Chi bloodline. They pretty much made up of almost the entire Gu Yue high authorities. As a lowly elder, how could he possibly endure?
"The root of this matter still goes back to Fang Yuan’s secret. What in the world did he rely on to break through to the middle stage?" The academy elder restrained the fire in his heart and shot his gaze at the three investigation reports on his table.
The first report showed extensive info about Fang Yuan’s family background.
Fang Yuan was born into a good family; there was nothing strange about his identity and his life experience was perfectly clean and spotless. Both his parents had passed away and he was taken in by his uncle and aunt. However they did not get along, and ever since he attended the academy Fang Yuan had always stayed in the academy hostel.
The second report was about Fang Yuan’s life records.
He had showed early intelligence during junior age, and was seen optimistically by the clansmen, predicted to be a possible A grade talent. Yet after the Awakening Ceremony, he was tested to be a C grade, greatly disappointing the clan.
The third report was on Fang Yuan’s recent trail.
His everyday life patterns were very simple, and he had a rigid schedule. During the day he would always be attending lessons in the academy, and in the night he would always sleep in the dormitories. He was extremely hardworking in his cultivation, and would always enter a Gu Master’s cultivation every night, nurturing his aperture. There were times he would go out to the village’s only inn to have better meals and buy wine to drink.
He had a special affection towards wine, and loved to drink the green bamboo wine. Under his hostel bed, he kept tens of pots of green bamboo wine.
The academy elder looked carefully again at the three reports, his heart forming a deeper impression of Fang Yuan again.
"Both his parents died early, and he was unable to get along with his uncle and aunt… No wonder this brat Fang Yuan does not have a sense of belonging towards the clan. He was personally crowned as a genius among all by the clansmen, yet they also personally plucked him out of the sky and threw him down to the earth… No wonder he is so wild and unruly, and so peculiarly cold and detached. His life is so simple and he is assiduous towards cultivation. This is him holding back his breath, unwilling to concede, he wants to prove his ability to the clan! Thus that is why when I suppressed him, he retaliated so fiercely…"
Once the academy elder carefully thought until this point, he could not help but heave a sigh.
The more he learnt about Fang Yuan, the more he understood Fang Yuan.
Of course, understanding does not mean forgiving. Fang Yuan went against him, offending his dignity, rejecting to be class chairman, and even extorting his classmates. These were things he could not tolerate.
Shaking the information in his hands, the academy elder frowned again. "Although these reports are detailed, they have nothing to do with Fang Yuan’s advancement secret. It has already been a few days, these people are atrocious!"
Boom, boom, boom.
At this time, knocking sounds were heard on the door.
"Come inside," the academy elder said.
The door opened.
It was the clan head, Gu Yue Bo’s personal guard. "The clan leader has orders, esteemed elder, please hurry to the main family pavilion, there is a matter to discuss."
"Oh, what’s the matter?" The academy elder stood up from his seat, he had felt the severity of the issue from the guard’s tone and expression.
"The Rank four Gu Master Sir Jia Fu has come back, his brother Jia Jin Sheng has gone missing!" The guard answered.
"Hiss..." The academy elder instantly drew a mouthful of cold air.
(1) This analogy is unique to the author. I translated as closely as possible, yeah… Something about how basically two colors in the sky blend together like an emperor ‘sleeping’ with his concubine.
(2) Salad dressing is a chinese wordplay that is very hard to contextualise. (怎么办 Zen Me Ban and 凉拌 Liang Ban, are homophones with the character ‘Ban’ so it is a phrase commonly used when people don’t know how to reply to the "How?" question.)