Phoenix’s Requiem - Chapter 246
Chapter 246: The Elders’ Meeting
“Your Highness.” Yun Ruoyan raised her head. “You didn’t come to my cottage so early in the morning just to confess your affection for me, did you?”
Li Mo couldn’t help thwacking Yun Ruoyan’s forehead.
“Ouch, it hurts!” Yun Ruoyan cradled her forehead as she glared at Li Mo. “What do you want? I still have to get to class!”
“You don’t have to go. I’ve already helped you take the day off.” Li Mo released Yun Ruoyan and pulled her to her nearby table, wanting to have a serious conversation about the other dimension with her.
“Before me, the first elder actually took on two previous disciples, one male and one female. However, they both died in the other dimension,” Li Mo began. “Although I’ve never been to that dimension, I know just how dangerous it can be. Less than a tenth of my seniors survived; sometimes, no one at all would return.”
He sighed, then continued. “For some reason, the portal’s opening earlier than usual this time, and thirty students will be permitted to enter rather than twenty. I’m afraid it’ll be even more dangerous than usual.”
He looked seriously at Yun Ruoyan. “Tonight, the elders will convene to decide on a roster of students to enter the portal. If you’re not interested in going—”
“Are you going?” Yun Ruoyan interjected, her eyes bright.
“I wanted to go three years ago, but the first elder stopped me. This time, I’m going for sure, but as for you—”
“I’ll go too!” Yun Ruoyan interjected again, her voice resolute. “I want to go with you!”
That night, the six elders and their head disciples gathered at the roof of the southern tower to discuss their plans for the upcoming expedition.
“As you’re all aware, my students surely wouldn’t be able to survive the trip, so no one from my college will be going,” the sixth elder, who led the central college, proclaimed. He smiled winningly at the gathered elders, as if he hadn’t said anything embarrassing.
“Sixth Elder, you can’t be serious!” The third elder pointed at the sixth elder with a fat finger. “None of our students have ranks as high as your students.”
Everyone knew that the central college took in the most inferior students, but the sixth elder would grant them rank-ups each year in order for them not to look too inept upon their graduation.
“Who’s the one not being serious here? You all know my college’s situation! Sending them into the portal would just be sending them to their deaths!”
“My students would die too!” the third elder, who led the western college, also exclaimed.
“If neither of your colleges are willing to send anyone, do you expect all thirty students to come from our remaining three colleges?” the second elder asked pointedly.
As soon as the second elder spoke, the other elders all became quiet.
“As the saying goes, competent people do the most work,” the sixth elder mumbled indistinctly.
“Sixth Elder, I couldn’t hear you. If you have a comment, say it loud and clear!” the second elder replied.
“Exactly! Sixth Elder, don’t you think all the colleges should provide an equal number of students?”
“Based on the number of students who survive each expedition, they’re all going to die anyway…”
“Exactly! If they’re all going to die, then why not send students with a lower cultivation?” the fifth elder suggested.
“Fifth Elder, what exactly could you mean?” The sixth elder stared at him in shock. “You’re not thinking of cheating, are you?”
All students who were to enter the portal had to be eighth-rank blademasters or higher. However, sixth-rank blademasters were eligible for consideration; during the remaining year of training, their cultivation would naturally rise. As for those students who couldn’t reach eighth-rank even by the conclusion of the training, they would be force-fed a spiritual pill that would bring them up to eighth-rank.
Naturally, such pills came with a severe drawback. If they were used in moderation, then these drawbacks weren’t particularly debilitating, but if they were used to enhance a student’s cultivation by two or more ranks, those students’ future potential would be consumed in their entirety. No longer would they be able to improve in their cultivation, and they would be far weaker than other cultivators at their current rank.
Those students were essentially fake eighth-rank blademasters, only there to meet the required quota.
“Heh heh.” The fifth elder laughed a few times. “Sixth Elder, why do you sound so shocked? Aren’t you the one who cheats the most out of all of us?”
“Fifth Elder, my cheating is harmless to the rest of the academy. Trying to cheat here—”
“What’s wrong with the fifth elder’s suggestion? I think it’s quite good myself!”
“Good? If those guards figure out what we’ve done…!”
The elders continued their heated discussion.
Li Mo sat silently by the first elder’s side, very much used to this sort of situation. Whenever it came time for the portal to the other dimension to open, the elders would squabble for days on end to settle on a final roster.
And while they fervently tried to stop their own college’s students from participating, those students would eagerly hope against hope to be one of the lucky few selected. In past years, the central college’s students were often the most displeased, thinking that the other four colleges’ students had taken all their spots for the expedition.
“Alright, that’s enough,” the first elder finally spoke.
Everyone, even the second elder, instantly went silent. All eyes fell on the first elder.
“We won’t cheat.” The first elder first rejected the fifth elder’s suggestion. Eighth-rank blademasters had a chance, however slim, to survive within the portal; those weaker would surely die. As the first elder of Kongming Academy, he could never allow so many innocent students to head to their deaths.
The first elder was far more willing to send some students who had the opportunity to return: if they survived against all odds, then they would surely become superior existences on the Chenyuan continent, and this was as much an opportunity as it was a risk.
“The southern college will send ten students for the expedition,” the first elder began. “The northern college will send eight, and the western and eastern colleges will send five each.”
He then turned to the sixth elder. “And the central college will send two. Is that acceptable?”
The sixth elder hesitated, opened his mouth as if to argue further, then looked down and nodded instead.
“Then the matter’s settled.” The first elder stood up. “Give me the roster from each college within a day. We only have a year to prepare, so we have to work rapidly. Li Mo will be responsible for part of the extradimensional training, and he’ll be among the thirty students participating.
In the central college, the sixth elder found Zhuo Yifeng and told him the news about the otherworldly expedition.
“Yifeng! Although you’re a new student, you’re one of the most talented in the central college. There are two slots available for an expedition to another dimension, and I’d like to give one of those slots to you.”
Zhuo Yifeng’s bright eyes grew even brighter. “Thank you for this opportunity, Sixth Elder! I surely won’t disappoint you!”
The new students had mostly heard about the expedition from the older students. Zhuo Yifeng had even heard that those who were selected to head into the other dimension were the strongest, most talented students of the academy. It was allegedly filled with treasure, and anyone who could return unscathed from the expedition would surely become a strong power on the Chenyuan continent.
The head of the merchant coalition of Chenyuan continent, the owner of the Yuelu Villa and the current head of the governing body of cultivators, Dong Tiehe, and even the general of the Li kingdom’s army, General Huang, were all cultivators who had braved this expedition and survived.
The students of Kongming Academy were excited beyond belief whenever the topic was brought up, and they all secretly dreamt of being the next student chosen.
The sixth elder couldn’t bear to see Zhuo Yifeng’s naive, exuberant expression, as though what he had given Zhuo Yifeng was salvation rather than a curse. “The other dimension might be filled with treasure, but it’s extremely dangerous. You have to be careful at all times, and prioritize your safety above all. No treasure is worth your life.”
“I understand, Sixth Elder!”
The sixth elder sighed as he looked at Zhuo Yifeng’s back. He’d just taken in what seemed like a promising disciple, only to have to send him into that tigers’ den…
After Zhuo Yifeng left, instead of heading back to the male residences, he instead turned to the cliffside, where he managed to pull out a wild pheasant he had hunted earlier in the morning out from a nearby bush. Because it was cold, the pheasant was nearly frozen solid. Zhuo Yifeng imbued spiritual energy into his right fist and pounded on the pheasant a few times to soften its flesh.
Then, Zhuo Yifeng brought the pheasant to a nearby mountain stream, where he began to clean and dress it. After doing so, he slathered a special seasoning on it and began to roast it over a fire.
Not long later, the aroma of wild pheasant began to spread, and a black shadow silently appeared opposite Zhuo Yifeng. Because Zhuo Yifeng was so focused on roasting the meat, he didn’t notice the guest’s arrival until he sat down right opposite him.
Only then did Zhuo Yifeng raise his head in shock. “Senior, you’re here!”
Zhuo Yifeng smiled, his bright beastkin eyes reflecting the flames.
The black-clad man peered at Zhuo Yifeng before lowering his head. He picked up a stick from the ground and threw it into the fire. “Given your lack of alertness, I’ll have you practice your wild vine arts a hundred times today.”