Lin Xi was roused awake in the middle of the night. He heard Mu Qing’s voice outside his door, knowing that the impatient Yunqin Emperor already decided on the rules, that it was time to set out.
After putting on his clothes without the slightest bit of flusteredness, after rendezvousing with Bian Linghan on the second floor, the two of them followed Lecturer Mu Qing out of the freshman dormitory, entering the thick darkness.
When they saw the usually amiable Mu Qing become so quiet, Lin Xi, who was wrapped under the heavy darkness couldn’t help but quietly ask, “Teacher Mu Qing, what kind of rules will the competition this time have exactly?”
When she heard this question, Mu Qing looked at Lin Xi and Bian Linghan’s underripe faces, shaking her head and saying, “I reckon that because the emperor still fears that we might do something on our side, not even we know the concrete rules. I only received news to escort you to Ten Fingers Ridge.”
Lin Xi and Bian Linghan were both a bit stunned.
“It seems like the emperor isn’t all that straightforward and upright.” When facing Teacher Mu Qing who was clearly on Vice Principal Xia’s side, Lin Xi didn’t really feel much misgivings with his words. After staring blankly for a moment, he directly spoke these somewhat disgraceful words.
“You can speak these words before me, but outside, the emperor is still the emperor in the end. Our Green Luan Academy cannot interfere with the imperial court’s laws and politics, and we also hope that regardless of whether it is nobility or ordinary civilians, they can conduct themselves according to the laws. That is why outside, you cannot say these words.” Mu Qing gave Lin Xi this warning, and then because she was already familiar with Lin Xi’s nature, she wasn’t scared of her words making Lin Xi too overbearing, so she didn’t really hide anything either. “The analysis of those in the rear Ailao Mountain has deduced that because the late emperor had always been busy fighting wars, dealing with external enemies, after becoming accustomed to seeing the people suffer because of war, his heart naturally developed pity and compassion, only wishing to protect his home. He didn’t have much time to think about other things either, so his temperament was naturally radiant. However, the current emperor, ever since he could think for himself, what he grasped was already the world’s most powerful empire filled with great mountains and rivers, an empire that was stable and flourishing. He spends more of his time thinking about how he can exceed the late emperor in glory, which is why what he is constantly preoccupied with, if it is not the south, then it would be the west, expanding Yunqin’s territory even greater. The late emperor had Principal Zhang’s assistance, and he himself had already been the emperor for a long time. Preserving the accomplishments of the previous generations is already not easy, but he still wishes to exceed the late emperor in contributions. These types of great ambition and lofty goals make it so that all he can do is carry out all types of schemes on his dragon throne… Regardless of whether it is conspiring openly or some hidden schemes, when one plots too much, their temperament will naturally no longer be so radiant.”
In Lin Xi’s previous modern family, he had also read many popular books on chinese history, and from elementary school all the way to college, he had also attended many history classes, so his understanding of the schemes and intentions of monarchs might not be below those who researched statesmanship. He keenly sensed some things from Lecturer Mu Qing’s words, and as such, his brows furrowed slightly. He looked at Mu Qing, quietly asking, “Judging from teacher’s intentions, it seems like if it was the late emperor who was ruling instead, peace might have been negotiated with the southern Great Mang or western Tangcang?”
“Great Mang’s old emperor Zhan Taimang was originally only an ordinary border army soldier, but he ultimately unified the southern region, establishing Great Mang. Tangcang’s empress dowager personally commanded troops to quell chaos, fighting for seven years, loved and respected by all of the people, her son then taking the imperial throne. These two are both talented people, what kind of insight do they have? It is unlikely that they would be willing to pointlessly exhaust their resources against an empire far more powerful than their own.” Mu Qing said slowly, “However, if they are able to clearly see Yunqin Emperor’s nature, able to see through Yunqin Emperor’s great ambitions, they naturally won’t just sit and wait for death. However, this can’t be completely blamed on Yunqin Emperor, after all, his efforts to build a strong empire are something anyone could see. He is determined to become an enlightened emperor in the annals of history, to the point where he is torturing himself. If it was another ruler who didn’t think about how to improve, excessively licentious, then Yunqin might not have its current sight to behold.”
Li Xi followed Mu Qing in the darkness, thinking about her words. Soon afterwards, a smile of self-mockery appeared on the corners of his lips.
These issues between countries, the designs of the top seats would always be far too complex, he could only listen to it like gossip. What he needed to consider in the end, were still the issues regarding himself and his friends.
“Right now, even though I do not know exactly what kind of rules the competition will have, before he left, Vice Principal Xia has instructed me to tell you all that this competition will definitely allow you two to display your strength, or else he wouldn’t agree to the rules. Also, it is best if the two of you work together, not only because the two of you can display the greatest power when working together, but also because among the ones participating, your cultivation levels should also be the weakest.”
“I never had the chance to ask you… just what level is your cultivation at now?”
After sliding down a silverthread zipline to Green Luan Academy’s northernmost peak, Lin Xi saw Gao Yanan, Wen Xuanyu, Yuhua Tianji, and two other Green Luan Academy lecturers. Since he wasn’t too familiar with Wen Xuanyu and Yuhua Tianji, and it seemed like the two of them weren’t the talkative type, Lin Xi naturally walked up to Gao Yanan, unable to help but ask about her cultivation.
“Do you really want to know?”
“But of course! Otherwise, why would I ask you… Either way, cultivation is still something that will advance, telling me this shouldn’t be a problem, right?”
“Mid stage Soul Expert.”
Even though he knew that Gao Yanan’s cultivation would definitely be much greater than his own, when he heard Gao Yanan honestly reply, Lin Xi still rubbed his nose, unable to help but feel a bit defeated.
During these two days, he had remained completely focused on training precisely to see if there was a chance of defeating a mid level Soul Expert cultivator. However, Gao Yanan’s cultivation already reached this mid stage Soul Expert level.
The Ten Fingers Ridge Mu Qing spoke of wasn’t that close to Green Luan Academy. Lin Xi and the others set out in the middle of the night, continuing all the way until noon the next day. Only after exhausting an entire day of time did they arrive at the designated location.
A banner with a golden dragon embroidered into it could be seen on a barren ridge, fluttering in the wind.
More than ten soldiers dressed in silver armor and two Thunder Academy instructors in golden gowns greeted Mu Qing and the others in an almost expressionless manner.
Then, the silver-armored general in the lead handed out five small sheepskin scrolls sealed in wax to Mu Qing, and she distributed them into Lin Xi and the others’ hands.
These five wax sealed small sheepskin scrolls’ contents were all extremely simple, just a map of this Ten Fingers Ridge, a location marked out inside.
The handwriting was extremely graceful, coming from the same person’s hands, and it was completely identical. All it said was that before dusk, they were to hurry to that point, and then in that place, they will receive the official rules of the competition.
“The emperor really knows how to make things more difficult.”
In front of Central Continent Imperial City’s elites and Thunder Academy’s lecturers, Lin Xi who heard Mu Qing’s warning before naturally wouldn’t speak any nonsense, but when the five of them began to hurry along according to the small sheepskin scroll’s instructions, putting quite a bit of distance between the two academy lecturers and those Central Continent Guard elites, Lin Xi couldn’t help but mutter this to Gao Yanan and Bian Linghan.
This might not be a completely fair contest to begin with. Even if both sides, for the sake of convincing the other side, did their best to ensure fairness, at this point, the rules could already be completely revealed, there was no need to wait until this point. This extra step, for others, might make them feel that this might instead be a good thing, but to Lin Xi, it instead even more so made him feel that the emperor’s mind wasn’t open enough.
“Apart from some differences in opinion, the current emperor can indeed be described with the word brilliant, his conduct and deeds much better than many of history’s sovereign kings.” When she heard what Lin Xi muttered, Gao Yanan calmly and quietly said, “No one is perfect in the end, there is no need for you to harbor any enmity against him.”
“This is just a merely momentary pure feeling of like and dislike. If we are talking about enmity, I definitely don’t have this right yet.” When he heard Gao Yanan’s tone carry a bit of defensiveness for Yunqin Emperor, Lin Xi wasn’t too bothered. After all, what he understood extremely clearly was that perhaps he and Principal Zhang were the only two people without any notion of worshipping the nobility. Just as he was about to speak about lighter topics, his brows suddenly jumped, while Bian Linghan and the others discovered that the sky before them was a bit unusually bright.
The night scene descended upon Heaven Ascension Mountain Range once more, arriving on this desolate ridge called Ten Fingers Ridge.
Lin Xi, Gao Yanan, Bian Linghan, Wen Xuanyu, Yuhua Tianji, the five of them sat in a wooden room, looking at a sheet of tough cowhide nailed to a wooden block inside.
“What do you all think?”
Lin Xi’s eyes left the tough cowhide that was similarly covered in elegant writing. He looked at the four around him, the first one to speak up.
From the moment he approached this Ten Fingers Ridge that was marked on the map, saw the ice crystals scattering down the skies like stardust, apart from greatly admiring the beauty of nature, he still didn’t fully understand the reason why the emperor chose this location. However, when they truly entered Ten Fingers Ridge, hurried here and saw the rules, he realized that both Vice Principal Xia and the emperor exhausted quite a bit of brainpower over this affair.
This desolate ridge’s terrain was about the same as the Half Snow Gray Plains they were training in previously. Using the above sea level used by his past world, most of the regions were about four thousand meters above sea level.
Normally, Green Luan Academy’s students lived roughly three thousand five hundred meters above sea level, so for them, there wouldn’t be any altitude sickness. However, the same could not be said for Thunder Academy students who came from the plains, especially under intense activity. That was why Thunder Academy’s students arrived in Half Snow Gray Plains so early, to cultivate and adapt.
On the map the five of them only obtained earlier, Ten Fingers Ridge was originally a hilly region in the wasteland, just that there were ten peaks that were a bit higher. However, this map was extremely simple, not having any distance or height markings. Only when they truly entered, did Lin Xi and others discover that this wasteland, compared to Half Snow Gray Plains, was more vast, the wooden room they stayed in was only by the closest peak of the ‘ten fingers’. Traveling here from the edge of Ten Fingers Ridge on the map, they only arrived here before dusk even after rushing at full speed for half a day.
According to their visual assessment along the way, the distance from their current position to the nearest two mountain peaks might be a day long journey at full speed.
Meanwhile, the rules written on this tough cowhide were the commonly used rules of the border army elites competition, capture the flag. It was written extremely clearly, stating that the ‘flags’ this time would be five prisoners, now already scattered across the nine peaks aside from the one at the very center. Their mission was precisely to find these five prisoners, and then escort them to the centermost peak, deliver them to the camps the emperor set up at the foot of the mountain. Meanwhile, Thunder Academy’s students had to find and kill these five prisoners, so in the end, it will depend on whether Green Luan Academy’s students could rescue more prisoners, or if Thunder Academy could kill more prisoners.
Living people were treated as prey. For Lin Xi, this was naturally a bit cruel.
Meanwhile, the rules of this competition were that apart from not being allowed to carry anything from the academy, even the clothing had to be changed into ordinary border army uniforms in the other cabin in the back, as well as only being able to choose two border army standard weapons, there were no restrictions regarding time.
It was quite clear that this wasn’t a competition that would end in just a day or two.
According to Lin Xi’s judgment, Heaven Ascension Mountain Range’s snow line was around four thousand eight hundred meters or so. However, this Ten Fingers Ridge was completely covered in a thin layer of ice and snow.
Just like Four Seasons Plains, this wasteland was also a natural miracle. Perhaps because these northern Heaven Ascension Mountain Range snowy peaks were a bit shorter than the main vein’s snowy peaks, or perhaps because the glaciers, for some reason became a bit more loose, the irregular light Lin Xi and the others previously saw were fine granules of ice that scattered about the skies.
Now wasn’t the time for Heaven Ascension Mountain Range to be snowing, but this unique landform made it so that right now, it seemed like it really was snowing. Only, these ice granules were a bit more sparse, just like a sunshine, not really obstructing their line of sight.
Spruce trees grew in Ten Fingers Ridge, but they were extremely sparse. This place didn’t have much other plant life covering it.
As such, not only was searching for food in this region difficult, if one used the monoculars Principal Zhang taught Yunqin how to manufacture, or what Yunqin’s armies called ‘Hawkeye’, if one stood on Ten Fingers Ridge’s highest peak, they might be able to observe the activity of some regions.
That was why Yunqin Emperor, who attached quite a bit of importance to this ‘competition’, might very well be on that highest peak.
The mountain winds blowing from north to south, from high elevation downwards, were extremely strong. The bits of hail were just like the strong mountain winds, providing excellent support for falling arrows.
That was why in this place, when Falling Moon was used to fire an arrow, the power would be even more powerful than when used in other places.
Moreover, the most crucial thing was that this place didn’t lack the raw materials for modifying ordinary standard arrows at all.
Even though he hadn’t met Vice Principal Xia since the entrance examination, he could feel that this was what Vice Principal Xia was doing to mitigate the difference in cultivation between them as much as possible, moreover to let him display as much of his strength as he could.
This was also to say that Vice Principal Xia invested quite heavily in him.
However, what Lin Xi also understood extremely clearly was that the hail and great humidity similarly had a great effect on arrows released, increasing the difficulty of an arrow landing as well.
“Vice Principal Xia, where does your huge confidence in me come from?”
When he thought about what he was about to face, asked Gao Yanan and the others how they should prepare, this type of thought also suddenly appeared in Lin Xi’s mind.
“These prisoners have already been scattered throughout these mountains. Finding them first is a key factor of success.”
Yuhua Tianji didn’t say a word on the way here, only at this time did he speak up. This thin and weak looking youngster whose hair was golden like the sun gave Lin Xi and the others a look, and then said, “This type of capture the flag competition is naturally to have both sides disperse, because only by spreading out and searching will we be able to find more prisoners as quickly as possible. As such, we naturally need to immediately set out.”
Lin Xi’s brows furrowed slightly, muttering to himself, “This reasoning is naturally not bad, but for this competition to appear fair, these prisoners naturally can’t just randomly starve or freeze to death, so they definitely have some movement ability. The chances of finding these prisoners at night is extremely small. Perhaps preserving some stamina, waiting until dawn before we set out is a better choice.”
“Only the weak fear darkness. Priests with radiant hearts will never lose their way or faith in darkness.”
Yuhua Tianji arrogantly and indifferently recited a scripture verse, and then pushed open the door, heading towards the wooden cabin in the back. Through the cold winds with icy granules mixed in, his voice continued, “What you say is also reasonable, but if we wish to hurry to the furthest peak, it will take more than a night of trekking. I will head for the southernmost peak number three.”
When he heard this pale-faced, golden-haired youngster recite the scripture verse, Lin Xi couldn’t help but shake his head, feeling like this really was a rigid and inflexible freak. However, when he heard his following words, his brows instead jumped, his mind producing some different impressions towards this youngster.
On the simple and crude map in their hands, they were currently at the northernmost peak number seven. Meanwhile, the peak number three marked out on the map was the furthest from them. Perhaps even if one headed there in a straight line, it would still take at least three days of time.
Naturally, the further the route, the more difficult it was.