At the first glimmer of dawn, a line of individuals in black cloaks advanced through a seemingly endless and vacant tundra. Snowflakes lazily scattered about, this scene having quite a bit of artistic aesthetic.
Heaven Ascension Mountain Range’s great outline, after three whole days of arduous trekking, finally revealed its true appearance. Green Luan Academy’s location was finally within view.
Green Luan Academy’s light green-colored ointment’s efficacy was something none of the modern age’s ointments could match. After a night’s sleep, the swelling and aching of their feet would disappear without a trace, even the injuries at the soles of their feet would form scabs and peel off, becoming as good as before.
It was also precisely because of this grassy scented ointment’s help that Lin Xi and all of these Self Defense Department new students could persist until now.
After these three days of difficult trudging, the forty-one new Self Defense Department student’s faces all became a ring slimmer, but their minds were instead much sharper, every single one of them able to eat much more every meal as well.
At first, most of the new students could only eat a palm-sized chunk of meat, but now, even those with the smallest appetites could pretty much eat two steaks of this size.
Unknown whether intentionally or unintentionally, after that night, the wild and unruly looking grave and stern black-haired male no longer hunted antelopes, instead only bringing back a type of horned elk with larger bodies.
This type of elk’s marbling was even better, the fragrance even stronger, adding a strong meat smell even to their black northern sea otter fur cloaks.
“What exactly did that middle-aged uncle leave behind in Green Luan Academy?”
Lin Xi walked at the center of the group, looking into the ice-cold and mysterious Heaven Ascension Mountain Range. Snowflakes fluttered about the upper half of the mountain, clouds and mists lingering about, distant and beyond reach.
Even though he had long accepted his new identity, moreover quite content with this world, he felt an indescribable emotion. Perhaps it was because of those words he said to that old driver, the irreconcilable feeling of lonesomeness and not being understood that made that middle-aged uncle become his true reason for being so determined to enter Green Luan Academy.
Moreover, perhaps this middle-aged uncle might be able to answer many of his questions.
A stone path that only allowed two or three people to walk side by side lay before them at the foot of the mountain, carrying a shallow layer of white snow as it winded upwards. Before reaching halfway up the mountain, the white snow became a hard layer of ice and fragmented icicles.
The black-haired man took the lead on this stone path, extremely easygoing, as if it was no different from a normal stroll.
He released a loud laugh, and then swept his eyes over Lin Xi and the others in a threatening manner. “Watch your feet. Follow this path up through this mountaintop and we’re there. Before the sun sets behind the mountain today, all of you better climb your way over. Those who fail to climb over can just spend the night on this path.”
However, when everyone stepped on this path and raised their heads, they couldn’t see the so-called mountaintop he spoke of at all.
This Heaven Ascension Mountain Range really was too tall. After hundreds of flights of stairs, every step consumed a large amount of stamina. Later on, apart from Xia Yanbing and the black-haired man, all of the new Self Defense Department new students really used their hands and feet. However, despite this being the case, after climbing a set distance, they had to stop to catch their breath.
A wide expanse of lush, giant cedar trees suddenly appeared at the limits of the narrow icy stone path. Then, it was as if they passed through a world, when the new students who were huffing and puffing made it through these sky shrouding giant cedar trees, they were all speechless.
The level mountainside before them faced dozens of mountaintops, a continuous expanse of majestic palaces resting on them, their windows flickering under the sunlight.
On the mountaintop closest to them, the palaces that were linked up together even extended beyond the summit, as if they directly reached into the skies above their heads.
The light reflected off the green jade-like walls and golden glazed roof tiles made it a bit hard for these new students to open their eyes.
Lin Xi was also speechless. The imagination of a modern man, when compared to the scenery before him, was still too lacking. Just this mountaintop and the majestic palaces closest to him exceeded the Lord of the Rings’ City of Gondor.
“Why is this place warm like spring, flowers in bloom, not at all a frigid and frozen world?” Someone asked with a stupefied expression on his face.
“This is also a foolish question.” The black-haired man pointed into the horizon, too lazy to explain.
At the limits of their line of sight was a mountain range that reached even higher into the clouds, as if it was a massive city wall. This place was just like Four Seasons Plains, also a depression in the mountain range. The cold streams that rushed over from the north were blocked by the unbroken chain of peaks, the disturbed flow causing the cold winds to completely pass over this great mountain basin.
The hundreds of great peaks, before this massive mountain range, were nothing more than protrusions from the basin.
The black-haired man and Xia Yanbing led these new Self Defense Department students who were already so tired they could barely move their feet towards the mountaintop that was closest to them, as well as comparatively the lowest one, finally arriving before a giant black wooden door.
“None of you ended up falling down, right?”
The black-haired man raised his fist. While laughing loudly, he gave the giant black wooden door a knock.
After cursing in a low voice, the great gate suddenly opened. A tall, long-faced woman who was also dressed in black professor robes with silver star symbols embroidered on her chest and sleeves stood in front of the entrance. Her face was extremely stiff, the first impression she gave everyone was that this middle-aged woman was extremely strict, definitely not someone they could talk back to.
“Professor Li, it’s been such a long time! How about the two of us go fight a round?” The black-haired man said with a laugh towards this strict-looking, tall, long-faced middle-aged woman.
This middle-aged woman gave the black-haired man a vicious glare, not paying his words any attention. She easily opened the half meter thick giant door, at the same time saying strictly to Lin Xi and the other Self Defense Department new students who were tired to the point of collapse, “Don’t waste anything, or else you all will have to deal with me.”
All of the new students didn’t understand what this long-faced middle-aged woman meant when she said don’t waste anything, but as soon as they passed through the wide entrance, all of them were immediately stupefied.
There were more than twenty wide wooden tables across the cobblestone plaza, every single table full of food.
Roasted elk chops, roasted pheasant, roasted river deer meat, rice, pastries, all types of vegetables, as well as all types of tubers and fruits not even golden spoon youngsters had seen before.
“You all can now do as you please, as long as you all can finish all of it…” The black-haired man gave this group of dumbfounded Self Defense Department new students a profound look, saying this.
The Self Defense Department new students were immediately like fierce tigers who just broke out, throwing themselves at the tables piled with food.
In reality, apart from hastening them on with their journey, the black-haired man didn’t let them go hungry, but after going several days on roasted meat without any seasonings, it could only stave their hunger. Now, every single dish on the wooden tables before them looked extremely appetizing.
All of them seized a pile of food, letting loose.
“Is this the welcoming banquet? If we don’t wait for the other department’s students, will there be any problems?” Someone asked, feeling some misgivings.
“It can be counted as one.” The black-haired man who was currently taking large bites out of a piece of roasted lamb said without much thought, “Our Self Defense Department does this every year, so do you think there’ll be any issues? Just relax and eat, either way, you all can’t finish everything, even if you do, that Professor Li will prepare more.”
“The other departments’ people will also hurry here? Is this where we will live? Didn’t you say that there is the most important tradition to come, that we have to receive Principal Zhang’s advice… when will we be receiving the advice Principal Zhang left behind?” Someone couldn’t help but ask.
“There’s no rush, that’ll happen tomorrow at noon. You all will live in that region.” The black-haired man casually pointed out. All of the new students couldn’t help but follow where his finger pointed, seeing a seven story, corner tower-like palace hall, from its position already this mountaintop’s overhanging cliff.
“Why are there no other senior brothers and sisters?”
“All of the new students will reside in this mountaintop. The senior brothers and sisters of different departments are all at different mountain tops, you all will have chances to meet them normally. As for which mountaintops you all will live in a year later, all of you will understand when the time comes.”
“Are we going to wait for the other departments’ people to all hurry here before we receive the principal’s advice? Then what do we do now?”
“Now, it is just eating, sleeping, and waiting for them to come. You all have an extra day of rest compared to them.” The black-haired man gave all of these new students another look. “Otherwise, how will you all understand the concept of more effort will always bring greater returns?”
“Professor Qin… you really are too awesome!” The new students first stared blankly for a moment, and then they released loud cheers.
“Is that so?” Under the cheers and praise, the black-haired man instead lowered his head, completely focused on chewing the roast lamb in his hands. With an inward laugh of self-mockery, he said, “I just hope that there’ll be less of you who disappoint me in the future.”
“The other lecturers won’t be back until tomorrow as well, so all of you can only rest in this courtyard. When those from other departments arrive tomorrow, after you all receive the principal’s advice, there will be lecturers who will help all of you arrange your schedules and courses.” Xia Yanbing’s strict voice also sounded, “No one is permitted to leave this courtyard, or else you will be directly banished from Green Luan Academy.”
No one bothered wondering if this rule was too strict. This courtyard that was full of food, compared to the difficult trudging they experienced the last few days, was already heaven. Moreover, this group of Self Defense Department new students really was too tired. After they drank and ate their fill, even Lin Xi who was the only one who felt a bit of regret that he couldn’t immediately see what that middle-aged uncle left behind, under the softness of the cloak, entered the land of dreams, sleeping soundly.
The next day, when the first Self Defense Department new student woke up, the sunlight was already extremely bright.
The crazy black-haired man was like a javelin, standing at the top of a palace hall by the cliff, gazing into the distance, unknown just how he got up there.
At the foot of Heaven Ascension Mountain Range’s frozen plains, a group of people covered in black cloaks were already approaching like a swarm of black ants.