For this year, the location of the enrollment examination to recruit new blood for their academies was finally decided – it was the same as last year, an expedition into the Dark Forest.
Perhaps it was because paths of blood and danger were something that cultivators had to experience before they would grow, but all the martial academies jointly gave their approval. After all, the applicants were all youthful cultivators who needed to be blooded before they could be considered to have met the bare minimum requirement of what it meant to be a cultivator.
In this dog-eat-dog world where only the strong survived, since one had already embarked on the path of cultivation, one had to press forward relentlessly, survive through countless dangerous experiences and never look back unless they were willing to be just an ordinary human.
In the small town that was situated outside the Dark Forest, many adventurers and risk takers let out a burst of laughter as they saw the group of youthful cultivators coming their way. Days of living on a sabre’s edge was horrifying, since no one knew which day would be their last. Seeing the appearance of these youths would always be able to bring light into their lives, albeit only for an instant.
In the boundaries of the Dark Forest, the group of prospective students of the Emperor Star Academy were led by Qin Wentian, Mo Qingcheng, Luo Huan, Mountain and Luo Chen. In addition, Rain was also accompanying Qin Wentian. Currently, Qin Wentian was already someone that the Emperor Star Academy had to protect at all costs. Because his radiance was too dazzling, there were many who wanted to kill him.
Although Gongyang Hong’s deterrence made it so that not many would dare to strike out at Qin Wentian in broad daylight, he still had to defend against arrows fired at him in the dark. The assassination attempt by Janus was a very good example.
“Everyone, prepare yourself to enter the Dark Forest. Remember to be cautious in everything you do. If you are dead, you can’t enroll in the Emperor Star Academy, can you?” Mountain turned his head back as he smiled to the prospective students of the Emperor Star Academy.
“Don’t worry about us, Senior Mountain.” The youth standing in front of the group grinned. This youth was none other than Zi Jun. Excitement could be seen flickering in his eyes as he jumped about animatedly.
“Okay, everyone let’s enter.” Mountain waved his hands while momentarily feeling an ambivalence of nervousness and excitement. The group from the Emperor Star Academy stepped into the Dark Forest.
A radiant smile could be seen in his eyes as Qin Wentian gazed at the madly galloping backs of the prospective students.
“Are you thinking of your own experience from last year?” Rain sat atop of a white horse as she gazed at Qin Wentian. Her gentle-looking countenance gave off a feel of warmth when looking at her.
“Yeah, and I was also wronged by someone.” Qin Wentian laughed.
“Hmph, who are you talking about?” At the side, Mo Qingcheng’s beautiful eyes glared at Qin Wentian, appearing extremely adorable.
“The person already knows who I’m talking about. Back then, that person was truly extremely cold in her attitude.” Qin Wentian continued.
“Didn’t I already apologize?” Mo Qingcheng felt wronged and glared at Qin Wentian.
“The two of you, stop bantering so flirtatiously.” Luo Huan giggled. She was someone who wanted the world to be in chaos.
“Sister Luo Huan, what are you saying?” Mo Qingcheng’s face burned.
“What am I saying? Junior brother Qin is so talented in all aspects, even I’m in love with him. If you don’t like him, give him over to this senior sister here then.” After speaking, Luo Huan crossed her arms, propping up her twin peaks. Luo Huan’s bewitching appearance was capable of ensnaring males, causing them to be dumbfounded. Qin Wentian had a bitter smile on his face as he regarded Luo Huan. This senior sister really wanted his life sometimes.
Upon seeing the expressions on Qin Wentian and Luo Huan’s countenance, Mo Qingcheng sniffed as she turned about and made her way rapidly towards the front, causing Rain as well as the others to burst out in laughter.
Rain silently thought, the relations between humans were extremely fascinating. The words of external parties could easily cause feelings of goodwill to build over between two people. It seemed like Luo Huan was really intelligent and obviously wanted to bring the two of them together.
Seeing Qin Wentian urging his mount forward, catching up to Mo Qingcheng, Rain couldn’t help but to smile. Such a couple really made people like them.
The rest of them mounted on their horses and proceeded forwards. After seeing the group of prospective students heading into the depths of the Dark Forest, Mountain involuntarily called out,” I’ll go and protect Zi Jun.”
After which, he galloped ahead, into the depths of the Dark Forest.
If this were a year ago, Mountain would never have done this. But after the learning about the experiences Qin Wentian faced that year, as well as the current chaotic movements in the Royal Capital, Mountain didn’t want to take any chances.
“Seems like Senior Mountain truly likes that kid Zi Jun.” Qin Wentian turned as Rain, Luo Huan and the rest caught up.
“He’s already thinking of being an Elder, acting like a teacher guiding his students.” Luo Huan laughed lightly.
“Yes, you are right, Senior Mountain said earlier he was already prepared to remain in the Emperor Star Academy. Somehow, from his silhouette, I could see traces of Teacher Mustang.” Qin Wentian murmured in a low voice. Every time Mountain was by his side, he would sense a protective aura akin to a big brother. Although Mountain looked slow, he was calm and unflustered.
“I think it has something to do with his past experiences. Mountain was an orphan entrusted to the care of Teacher Mustang when he was 10. After discovering that he has an aptitude for cultivation, Teacher began to instruct him in the path of cultivation, viewing him as his own son and guiding him with all his efforts. It’s only natural that you could see traces of Teacher Mustang in Mountain. Other than talent, his decision to stay on behind as a guest Elder of the Academy after he broke through to Yuanfu was undoubtedly also because Mustang had a great influence on him.”
Luo Huan seriously continued, and warmth could be seen in her eyes. She herself, as well as Mountain and many others, had grown up together under Mustang’s care.
“So that’s the case.” Qin Wentian mumbled. He watched warmly as Mountain’s silhouette gradually disappeared in the depths of the Dark Forest.
“Luo Chen, Fatty, come with me. Sister Rain, junior brother Qin and Miss Mo will form a separate group. Let’s split up.” Luo Huan spoke. Her group went on the left path as Qin Wentian’s group went towards the right. Although this was an examination, there was still a need for countermeasures in the case of unforeseen danger.
“You two can continue chatting, I’ll take a look ahead.” Rain spoke to Qin Wentian and Mo Qingcheng as she went ahead, leaving Qin Wentian and Mo Qingcheng alone.
This caused Qin Wentian to be speechless. How could he not understand Rain’s intentions?
In the quiet Dark Forest, Qin Wentian rode side by side with Mo Qingcheng, but for some reason, the atmosphere felt a little awkward.
Mo Qingcheng turned her gaze to Qin Wentian as she asked, “Dumbo, do you mind telling me about matters of your past?”
“What do you wish to hear about?” Qin Wentian replied, “Before I came to the Royal Capital, i virtually spent my entire life in the Qin Residence located in Sky Harmony City, with nothing noteworthy to mention.”
“Were you not together with Autumn Snow?” Mo Qingcheng mumbled in a low voice. It was as if she knew that she shouldn’t be asking this question, after which her countenance quickly turned red. She continued, “You don’t mind me asking this, right…?”
“Why would I mind? It’s all in the past.” Qin Wentian shrugged as he smiled.
“Okay then.” Mo Qingcheng smiled sweetly, “Anyway, you will be able to find a better girl, so there’s no need to be bothered about matters of the past.”
“Find a better girl?” Qin Wentian blinked. He gazed at Mo Qingcheng.
Speaking of a better one, the number one beauty of Chu right in front of his eyes surpassed Autumn Snow in virtually all aspects.
Seeing how Qin Wentian kept gazing at her, Mo Qingcheng’s face grew red once again. She exasperatedly glanced at Qin Wentian as she remarked, “Rascal.”
After which, she urged her horse forwards. Over the horizons, there was a white crane hovering in the sky above.
“Wasn’t I ‘Dumbo’? When did I become a rascal?” Qin Wentian rubbed his head as he smiled, gazing at the beautiful silhouette in front of him.
In the blink of an eye, more than ten days had passed since they entered the Dark Forest. The prospective students of the various martial academies tried their best to survive, hunting the demonic beasts. Only now did many of them understand the difficulties of pursuing the martial path.
At this moment, Zi Jun arrived at a thicket of trees. The long spear in his hands penetrated right through the head of a demonic bear, finally killing it after immense efforts. Digging out the demonic core in its head, Zi Jun placed the core into a pouch that was hanging by his side.
His shirt was all torn and tattered, and traces of blood could be seen on his face. But despite of this, he was brimming with smiles. He had already killed plenty of low-level demonic beast and had sufficient demonic cores to exchange for some Yuan Meteor Stones to cultivate when he returned to the Royal Academy. With Yuan Meteor Stones, his cultivation speed would increase.
And just thinking of this, Zi Jun would be extremely happy. His dream was to be like Qin Wentian. He wanted the glory of becoming the champion of the Jun Lin Banquet a year from now.
With such a dream, he naturally understood how much hard work he needed to put in. Even if there was danger, he would not hesitate.
A steel-like resolution could be seen written on his face.
Behind him, underneath an ancient looking tree, Mountain was watching over him with admiration etched on his face. In the future, if Zi Jun weren’t as outstanding as junior brother Qin, his capabilities wouldn’t be too far from the mark.
Zi Jun continued walking ahead. However, at this moment, a sharp glint of light flickered in his eyes.
Tossing aside the pouch filled with demonic cores, he brandished the long spear in his hands as whistling sounds echoed out in the air. Three terrifying arrows akin to golden lightning fired straight towards him.
Zi Jun continued retreating. The long spear in his hands danced about, transforming into a rain of spears as booming sounds rang out. At the moment of contact with the arrows, Zi Jun was forced backwards several steps by the impact, but he continued his defense.
However, at this moment, a long lance was shot through the air with terrifying speed, growing increasingly larger in his field of vision.
The long lance was flung out by someone possessing tremendous strength. Zi Jun’s body was lifted up as the momentum caused his body to soar backwards, resulting in him being nailed to an ancient looking tree behind..
The previous smile had disappeared from his face. At this moment, only despair could be seen as he lowered his head, looking at the long lance that penetrated through his heart.
Why would there be someone so powerful here who wanted to ambush him?!
An instant later, his eyes lost their glow. But even in death, his eyes remained wide open giving testament to the fact that he died with a grievance. He had just taken his first step, hoping to accomplish his dreams, but even before he achieved it, everything had ended.
“NOOOOOOOO!” A voice filled with intense fear and anger shook the Dark Forest. Mountain released his Astral Souls as he frenziedly sprinted forwards. During the moment the arrows appeared, he was already filled with a terrible sense of foreboding and had already started rushing towards Zi Jun’s direction. However, everything was too late.
Rustling sounds could be heard from a distance away. Pairs after pairs of eyes filled with terrifying coldness and killing intent appeared, staring at Mountain as though they were staring at their prey.
Mountain’s roar was exceptionally ear-splitting. Nearby cultivators all sprinted over in his direction when they heard it.
By this time, Qin Wentian and Mo Qingcheng had already caught up with Rain. When he heard the deafening roar, he couldn’t help but be filled with a sense of unease. That roar sounded exceedingly familiar to his ears.
Pssst! Qin Wentian dismounted from his horse as a pair of Garuda Wings appeared on his back, speeding forth with a speed as fast as lightning.
Mo Qingcheng gave a whistle, causing the hovering white crane to descend. Mo Qingcheng mounted the white crane, flying towards the direction of the roar.
Rain soared into the skies as she follow closely behind Qin Wentian.
The feeling of unease was getting stronger and stronger.