Instantly, Tan Zhongchi’s clear and bright laughter infected the others.
Besides Qin Wushuang, the remaining Core disciples all felt encouraged. They had followed Tan Zhongchi for many years and knew his personality very well. If he was not happy from the bottom of his heart, he would not have laughed so openly.
"Three hundred points, excellent. Wushuang, I feel extremely fortunate that I had lowered myself to fight for you against the Third and the Fifth Palace Masters. Ha ha, surely during these times, the Third and Fifth will become deeply regretful. Recently, Third is not being very friendly, he must still hold a grudge over this matter. Ha ha ha."
Tan Zhongchi kept laughing.
"You twelve Core disciples have stabilized your scores during the exam. Just focus on maintaining it. Such level of exam should not be difficult for you. I know all of you have restrained your strength. That’s good too, to prevent unexpected failures. Regardless of how to use your power, you all can decide it yourself. I will not speak more about it. However, when the ranking competition for the Core starts, all of you must pay extra attention."
When Tan Zhongchi ended there, he twitched his mouth and laughed strangely: "Here, I will tell you guys something. For this year’s ranking competition, it will be different than the ones in the past years. Not only will there be special rewards, there will be special fortuitous opportunities. The higher your rank, the better your benefits. Especially for the top ten! This time, I hope we can get three of the top ten spots and change history!"
Historically, none of the disciples outside the Head Palace faction had taken three of the top ten spots. At most, some of them would take two!
Someone needed to break this cycle.
Tan Zhongchi very much wished that he would be the one to break it and to start a new history. It was his ambition at the current stage.
"Wushuang," Tan Zhongchi suddenly called out to him.
"I’m here." Qin Wushuang stepped forward.
"I would like to give you a goal, do you dare to accept the challenge?" Tan Zhongchi said with a smiling face.
"Please tell me." Qin Wushuang was not being sluggish.
"Ok, historically, about ten people have gotten perfect scores in the Advanced disciples exams. The most recent case happened sixteen years ago. And Wei Yi from the line of the Head Palace Master had achieved it. This record has stayed frozen for sixteen years!"
"Now, I hope you could aim for this record and aim to make this record from sixteen years ago reappear. Do you have confidence?" Suddenly, Tan Zhongchi’s eyes become extremely serious as he looked at Qin Wushuang with some expectation.
Qin Wushuang said rightfully: "I will make an all-out effort to not disappoint you."
Tan Zhongchi laughed again and said: "If you can achieve this, it will be another record! Historically, those who had perfect scores all came from the lines of the Head Palace Master. If you can enter the ranks of the perfect scorers, then our Green Cloud Palace will create a new record."
Hearing his teacher speaking these words, Qin Wushuang remembered his care and kindness. Inwardly, he set a goal to achieve the perfect scores needed to bring more prestige to his teacher.
All the other Core disciples went up to encourage him as well: "Junior Brother Wushuang, us Senior Brothers will congratulate you now on breaking the record. Your achievements thus far is already an improvement for the Green Cloud Palace."
Zhou Fu also said with a smile: "I believe that for sure, Wushuang will enter the ranks of the perfect scorers. His future will not lose out to Senior Brother Wei Yi’s."
Tan Zhongchi laughed: "Fu’Er, don’t put too much pressure on Wushuang. Everyone should follow the trend on the martial arts training. Don’t put too much pressure on ourselves. As long we have a determined goal, march forward without any second thoughts, to not worry about personal gains and losses, only then could we climb an even higher mountain. A suitable amount of pressure can become motivation. However, too much pressure would only become an obstacle in the path of training!"
"We understand." The group of disciples nodded their heads.
"Ok, go now. We shall continue tomorrow. This time, our Green Cloud Palace line will create some surprise for the Stargaze Palace, ha ha." Tan Zhongchi appeared enormously proud of his success.
Suddenly, Zhou Fu pursed her tiny lips and asked with a smile: "Master, you mentioned that there would be special rewards for this year’s ranking competition, how will it be different than last years?"
Tan Zhongchi smiled: "Don’t ask about this. All the Five Palace Masters made a promise that until the end of the ranking competition, we would not reveal it. Just know this. As for the exact prizes, the answer will come when time comes."
"Yes." Feeling helpless, Zhou Fu could only suppress her curiosity.
After bidding goodbye to Tan Zhongchi, this group of Core disciples returned to their rooms. While Qin Wushuang was walking, suddenly, Zhou Fu rushed from behind and smiled gracefully: "Junior Brother Wushuang, would you have time to chat with me for a bit?"
Qin Wushuang laughed as he also had good feelings toward this Senior Sister. He nodded: "Sure."
"Follow me." Zhou Fu was not unambiguous and plundered towards the outside of the Palace.
Qin Wushuang did not dare to act dilatory and followed her. After a moment, these two arrived at a place close to that lush plum forest behind the Green Cloud Palace.
This plum forest had always been the most famous scenery at the Green Cloud Palace. Usually, all disciples would come to take a walk if they had some free time. Now it was the twelfth of the lunar month and the best time to walk in the snow and view the flowering plum.
Under the night, Qin Wushuang looked at this beautiful scenery of the plum forest. For each branch, they appeared like white jade sticks, sparkling and translucent. Like the gentle jade, they exuded a rich and delicate fragrance. When one smelled it, they could not help but feel carefree and relaxed.
"Such a beautiful scene." Inwardly, Qin Wushuang praised it and looked at this beautiful scenery. Suddenly, he remembered that in his former world, there was also a group of cherry blossoms in his school among the all other busy scenes.
Although the flower had blossomed in different seasons, it still made one develop fancy and wild thoughts and to dwell within it.
When Qin Wushuang arrived to this world, he had never had a moment of doubt. He had always buried the great changes of reincarnation and his regret over his sister from the former world deep inside his heart. Now, as he watched this scene, he could not help but feel emotions welling up and remember his sister’s laughter and appearance from his former world. He could not help but feel a sudden pang in his heart.
However, he was, in the end, a sensible and understanding person. In a flash, he suppressed this painful emotion. After a moment, feeling clear headed, he returned to his usual calm attitude.
"Junior Brother Wushuang, how do you like the scenery here?" Zhou Fu asked with a smile.
"An enchanting scenery and makes me want to drown in it." Qin Wushuang said emotionally.
"I heard that this plum forest had existed for hundred of years. It has never withered or aged. I heard that it had also received the Spiritual Qi from the Stargaze Palace and absorbed the best essence of the earth. It has already become the most distinctive scenery in the Green Cloud Palace. Only, it is located in a remote place. Not many outsiders know about this place."
Qin Wushuang smiled: "The plum was originally a proud and aloof flower. They never intended to fight for the spring and allowed all the flowers to be envious of each other. Or else, how could they chose to bloom in the winter, and to not compete with the flowers in the spring? I feel that the senior who had planted this forest of plum must be a graceful person."
Zhou Fu did not speak as a tacit approval. After a moment, she suddenly sighed sorrowfully: "The person who planted this plum forest seemed to be the last Palace Master in the Green Cloud Palace."
When she said that, it was as if Zhou Fu was moved as she murmured: "Never intending to fight for the spring and to allow the flowers to be envious of each other? Junior Brother Wushuang, did you come up with this graceful and poetic parable from your inner emotions?"
Hearing her question, Qin Wushuang could not help to smile. He forgot that he was in another world. Naturally, his words sounded somewhat abrupt in the ears of the Zhou Fu.
He would not dare to claim credit, and especially, he would find it a disgrace to lie before this Senior Sister. Immediately, he shook his head: "It was composed by some elders, and I just happened to read it."
Zhou Fu smiled lightly: "I didn’t know that you excelled in both martial arts and literature. You are a strange one in the Stargaze Palace."
"I don’t have extensive knowledge in literature nor martial arts. How could I claim myself to be proficient at both. Please don’t praise me too much or you might put me at a disadvantage." Qin Wushuang said humbly.
Zhou Fu smiled lightly again and she asked suddenly: "Junior Brother Wushuang, do you know what I wanted to talk to you about when I asked you here?"
Qin Wushuang said respectfully: "Please tell me."
Revealing a smile as beautiful as the blooming plum, Zhou Fu said: "Junior Brother Wushuang, before me, you should not act so distant. Initially, at the gambling competition, you did whatever you wanted and did not even fear the threat from the disciples of the Head Palace Master. Why are you acting with so much distance before me? In our faction, we are all family. You will feel it as time goes on. Today, I came to find you to tell you something."
"Senior Sister, please tell me." Qin Wushuang said helplessly.
"Alright, today our teacher is extremely happy. Being the head disciple and having followed him for a dozen years, it is the first time that I’ve seen him laugh from the bottom of his heart. Junior Brother, just this point alone, you had surpassed all twelve Core disciples." Zhou Fu sighed lightly, "I can see that the teacher has placed a lot of expectation on you. Inwardly, the teacher is lonely and even somewhat aloof. He has many ambitions, but he rarely pushes these ambitions onto us. However, us disciples have tried our best to share the worries of Teacher. Unfortunately, we could never do anything more for him."
From Zhou Fu’s tone, there were traces of sadness and regret.
"Sister, we still have a lot of time to share the worries of Teacher, we are still young…" When Qin Wushuang saw Zhou Fu speaking with a sad tone, he could not help but comfort her.
Zhou Fu shook her head: "Young? Junior Brother Wushuang, it may seems that the twelve Core disciples are not very old in appearance. But, it is all because we are Upper Sky warriors. The oldest among us is over fifty years old. I am the youngest one besides you, but I am also much older than you."
"I wonder, how old are you?" Qin Wushuang blinked his eyes and asked with a smile.
Zhou Fu knew that Qin Wushuang intended to make her happy as she smiled gracefully: "I was twelve when I entered the sect. After this year, it is the fourteenth year since then. How old do you think I am?"
"Twenty-five?" Qin Wushuang blurt out and sighed, "Judging from the appearance, everyone would feel I am your Senior Brother when we walk outside. They would never think you are my Senior Sister."
He didn’t expect that this Senior Sister Zhou Fu was also this young.