Bai Yunfei didn’t hesitate to give a flatline rejection to Fei Nian’s challenge.
In what was a clear display of choking on his own breath, Fei Nian’s face began to grow red. Wide-eyed, he looked incredulously at Bai Yunfei, “What?”
“I said, I’m not interested in fighting you.”
“You—are you a man or not!? When challenged by someone of the same strength as you, you should be more than happy to accept the challenge. Why are you refusing then!?”
“What does this have to do with me being a man or not? Why should I fight you? What point is there?” Bai Yunfei was unrelenting.
Flustered, Fei Nian retorted, “Then why won’t you fight me?”
Fei Nian exploded into another tirant half a second later, “Absolutely not! You will fight me, I need to prove that I’m stronger than you!”
“Fine then. You’re stronger than me. Happy?” Bai Yunfei frowned. “I’m already tired from today and want to rest. You should go back and sleep too.”
“Fei Nian, what are you doing here? Instead of training at the Southern Point, you’re causing trouble here? Whatever next will you do!” A sharp voice interrupted Fei Nian before another figure came into view.
This figure was Xiao Nanren.
Fei Nian was quite clearly all too afraid of this Xiao Nanren; his bravado vanished in an instant. Swallowing hard, he said, “Senior Xiao, I—”
He hadn’t even finished talking when several doors came swinging open. The entire courtyard had been awoken by the disturbance and had come out to see what was going on. Fei Nian cursed silently to himself for his bad luck; he had no idea that Xiao Nanren would be standing guard here. His fight with Bai Yunfei would not be taking place today.
As expected, Xiao Nanren had taken notice of the people gathering around them and said to Fei Nian with narrowed eyes, “Hurry on back to the Southern Point! You’re a student of the second elder, yet here you are making trouble with the new students. What is the meaning of this!?”
Xiao Nanren had to be privy to the events that had happened between Bai Yunfei and Fei Nian earlier that day since his eyes hovered momentarily on Bai Yunfei as he spoke.
As soon as Fei Nian left, Xiao Nanren turned back to address the crowd, “Everyone, please return to your rooms. Today has been a tiring day, so make use of the next three days to prepare yourself for the true examination.”
When the crowd left, Xiao Nanren nodded his head to Bai Yunfei and Ye Zhiqiu and left. No sooner did he leave did Mo Xiaoxuan and the sleepy-eyed Zhong Xuhao come walking up to the two, “Brother Bai, what’s going on?”
“It’s nothing, go on back and sleep…” Bai Yunfei shook his head.
The following three days were spent by waiting. Bai Yunfei and the rest of the people waited at the Western Point. Since they were all warned to not wander off, the group of ninety-six were left with nothing outside of their own courtyards to stroll around. Most of them spent their time in their own rooms to train in peace, but some would sit in the common areas and talk with one another. When the time came for a meal, the students from the Crafting School would come to deliver them to the group, making life for the group rather pleasant.
There were five points to the Crafting School on Mount Crimson. The main halls of the school were located at the middlemost point, of course. Aside from that, there were the four cardinal points. Each point was supervised by one of the four elders. The grand elder managed the Northern Point, the second elder managed the Southern Point, the third managed the Eastern Point, and the fourth managed the Western Point.
Author note: Why does it feel like we’re about to play Mahjong?
On the eve of the third day—an abode stood on the Northern Point several thousand meters away from the mysterious cave. In one of the more simplistically designed rooms, an elderly man who looked to be in his seventies came into view. He had white hair and a stern expression could be seen from his seated position on a praying mat. Deep in his meditational training, his entire person felt as if he was almost transparent in being. As he sat quietly there, it felt that if someone were to walk into the room, they’d be unable to sense anyone here…
This was the grand elder and junior to the acting headmaster of the Crafting School, Xiao Binzi.
Opening his eyes to what seemed to be a sound unnoticeable to all but him, the elder commanded, “Enter.”
The door to his room opened with a “creak” as someone pushed it open. A tall and straight looking person came walking inside shortly afterward, it was the student of the schoolmaster, Song Lin.
“Grand elder, all of the information has been gathered and compiled. There is no one of suspicious backgrounds in this newest group.” Song Lin announced as soon as he came to a stop in front of the elder.
The elder nodded his head. “Read it.”
“Yes.” Song Lin complied. With a shake of his hand, a thick piece of parchment laden with writing appeared.
Reading aloud, Song Lin said, “Ye Zhiqiu. Twenty-two years old. Second son of lord Ye of the house of Ye in Freesia City of the Yellow River Province. Late-stage Soul Sprite with a dual affinity in fire and wood. The house of Ye is considered a middling power in Freesia City, but six hundred years ago, there was once a Soul King in their family. In the middle of their golden era, the house came across a disaster which led to their decline. Their eldest son…”
One word at a time, every single detail known about Ye Zhiqiu was read aloud by Song Lin. Not a single detail was missed!
“Tian Yuhang. Ten years old. Fourth son of the Tian family from Fushun City of the Snake River Province. He has the ‘best’ talent for fire. The Tian family is…”
“Mo Xiaoxuan. Eighteen years old. The third son of the Mo from the Three Gorges city of the Forest Pass Province. While a late-stage Soul Warrior, he is on the verge of a breakthrough at any moment now. His talent with fire is rated at ‘high.’ His family is…”
“Xi Yan. Eighteen years old. Originating from Simo City in the Clean Water Province. He is from a family of commoners, but at the age of five, a traveling soul cultivator imparted several training methods to him out of kindness. His teacher later died from combat, leaving him to hide himself in a city and train himself. As a late-stage Soul Warrior, he is on the verge of a breakthrough. His talent with fire is rated ‘high.’
Line by line, the pages on the parchment were read aloud. It was a parchment detailing the information of every single applicant—over the past three days, the Crafting School had managed to scour plenty of information about them all!!
All of the people that Song Lin mentioned had a ‘high’ talent with fire at the very least, or were late-stage Soul Sprites at the very least. After a few more mentions, Song Lin came to a stop.
The elder’s eyebrows crinkled together. “Is that all?”
“There’s still one last person that stands out more than the others. Since he is a special one, I figured I’d leave him for last…” Song Lin replaced the parchment in his hand for a new one. Several lines of words were written on this one, allowing Song Lin to read aloud once more, “Bai Yunfei. Nineteen years old. Late-stage Soul Sprite with an affinity for fire. A commoner from Talus City in the Azure Cloud Province. When he was five…”
The troubled childhood, the nine years of suffering, the Coliseum disaster, the destruction of the Blackwood Stronghold, the death of Zhang Yang, his escape to Jade Willow City, Bai Yunfei’s actions in the Azure Cloud Province and everything else. Aside from the small secrets he never mentioned to anyone else, practically everything else was told. Even his encounter with Ge Yiyun was known in clear detail, but whatever happened after Bai Yunfei left the Azure Cloud Province, it seemed as if the school didn’t bother to investigate any further.
Even then, the amount of information they had now was more than startling. To have gathered so much information in three days, just how efficient were the connections of the Crafting School?
“What you are saying is that this one didn’t even know how to cultivate at first, but managed to not only gain friendship with Hong Yin, but even Ge Yiyun from the Fate School?” For the first time since Song Lin began his report, the old man’s eyebrows rose in apparent surprise.
Song Lin nodded his head, “According to the report we have… that’s indeed what it says.”
“Very well, you may return then. Tomorrow morning, bring them all to take part in the examination.” The elder replied after a period of silence.
Bowing, Song Lin left the room so that the elder could resume his quiet meditation. Attentively, he looked at the kindling flames with pensive eyes…