The book shelves were staggered within the brightly lit room. There were all kinds of ancient books placed on the book shelves, giving it an exceptional scholarly atmosphere. At this moment, there were three people standing in the middle of this room. Behind the table, which was in front of them, was a white-haired old man, who was slowly flipping through the documents in his hands. The entire room was in a silent atmosphere.
The three people standing in the room were two males and one female. If one were to carefully observe them, they were actually Bai Shan, Wu Hao, and Hu Jia, who had been beaten by Xiao Yan until they were seriously injured. At this moment, Bai Shan and Wu Hao had their eyes lowered. Their faces may still be a little pale but their complexion was much better compared to the day of the competition. On the other hand, Hu Jia had her eyes wide open as she looked at the old man flipping through the book. A long while later, she stuck out her tongue, appearing aggrieved.
After the silent atmosphere continued for nearly ten minutes, the Deputy Headmaster, Hu Gan, finally shifted his eyes away from his book. He said faintly, “Don’t count on me to help you vent your anger. This is something you’ve inflicted on yourselves. If you have the ability, you can directly go and hit Xiao Yan to vent your anger. However, I am not going to bother as for who is able to defeat who. The Jia Nan Academy does not prohibit those kinds of fights. As long as you want to, you can do so any time.”
“Hmph, it is not as though I expect you to do anything. I was defeated in that manner that day because I was caught off guard. I had not used my trump card. Otherwise, we don’t know who exactly would have won or lost.” Hu Jia snorted as she continued, “I am just angry that this fellow actually doesn’t know how to be tender to a woman. At the very least, I am also a girl. Can’t he be a little gentler when he attacks? I do not have rough skin and thick flesh like the two of them.”
Hu Gan could not resist laughing when he heard Hu Jia’s muttering. He replied helplessly, “At that time, who cares about showing tenderness to a woman. The three of you joined hands to attack him alone. If Xiao Yan was to still hold back, then it really was unjustifiable. Of course, that last action of his also caused me to be extremely surprised. That kid is definitely a ruthless fellow.”
“The three of you should not become enemies with him because of this matter. Young people should be more open minded. It is not worth becoming enemies over such small matters. Xiao Yan’s future potential is extremely terrifying. Remember, one more friend is better than one more enemy. Moreover, this enemy has reached the stage of causing one to feel creeped out.” Hu Gan eyed the three people in front of him and spoke to them earnestly.
“Hmph, women are the ones who can really hold a grudge. I remember that kick. He better not give me an opportunity.” Hu Jia curled her lips and said.
Hu Gan laughed when he heard Hu Jia putting it like this. With his understanding of the former, he naturally understood that whenever it was a time like this, she would really no longer bear any grudge. However, it was clear that Xiao Yan’s kick did indeed cause some resentment to remain in Hu Jia’s heart. She might not become enemies with him in the future, but it was likely that she would not display any friendly expression to the other party.
“I will not view him as an enemy, but I will view him as an opponent that I must surpass.” Wu Hao responded calmly.
Hu Gan nodded slightly. This Wu Hao was indeed a person that was crazy about combat. However, it was also because he was such a person that he would be able to walk even further on the path of a strong person. No wonder the Headmaster was extremely optimistic about him.
“Ke ke, we were merely sparring to exchange pointers. It is extremely normal to be injured. Why would we bare a grudge?” Bai Shan gave his reply. One could not see the slightest anger on his face, which was full of a smile.
However, it was this smiling manner of Bai Shan that caused Hu Gan’s eyebrows to knit slightly without leaving a trace. As the Deputy Headmaster of the Jia Nan Academy and with his shrewdness from living for so many years, how would he not be able to hear whether these words of Bai Shan were hypocrisy or truth?
Hu Gan looked deep into the smiling Bai Shan but he did not continue to speak. He clearly understood the latter had greatly enjoyed being sought after by others during these years. Now that Xiao Yan had beaten him until what he had enjoyed was shattered, his heart would definitely be extremely unwilling to let bygones be bygones. However… he hoped that this person would not do anything stupid. Hu Gan did not think that the young man, who dared to use his own strength to challenge an entire sect within the Jia Ma Empire, would be someone ordinary.
The clear sound of the room’s door being opened suddenly sounded quietly. A voice was transmitted into the room, “Deputy Headmaster, Xiao Yan and Xun Er have arrived.”
“Let them in.” Hu Gan closed the book in his hand and smiled as he spoke. Immediately, he turned his gaze toward Bai Shan and the other two and said, “When you all enter the Inner Academy in the future, you might have to fight and struggle together. Therefore, don’t turn your relationship sour. If the new students who enter the Inner Academy each year do not form groups, their fates are not very nice. Additionally, strength is honored within the Inner Academy. Whoever has a harder fist will be able to obtain the best training conditions. Whatever background you have will be useless once you are there. That includes my power.”
Hu Gan’s gaze stared intently at Hu Jia when he said the final sentence. The meaning within it was understood without being spoken.
Hu Jia’s mouth twitched. Although she was noncommittal within her heart, she still nodded on the surface.
Not long after Hu Gan’s voice sounded, two human figures slowly walked in from where the door was. Their gaze swept once around the spacious room before finally stopping on Hu Gan, who was behind a table. The two of them took two steps forward and bowed.
“Ke ke, the two of you have finally arrived.” Hu Gan smiled as he watched the two of them. His gaze paused a little longer on Xiao Yan’s face. During the ten days since Xiao Yan had arrived at Jia Nan Academy, this was the first time that Hu Gan had exchanged gazes at such close proximity with this top student, whose reputation had already reached the peak of the academy.
Mild and gentle. Two words suddenly came leaping out from Hu Gan’s heart the first time they looked at each other. He muttered a little in his mouth, only to laugh bitterly. These two words, and the wildness that Xiao Yan had displayed during battle were two complete extremes.
After Hu Gan carefully stared at those dark, black, ink-like pupils for a while, his sharp, old eyes finally sensed an irritability and restlessness that was like a flame flowing under the calmness. The manner was like a tranquil mountain that was hiding a volcano. At anytime and anywhere, the frightening volcano could erupt into terrifying energy and angry flames that would leave one speechless.
“The Dou Qi in his body appears to be gently circulating but it faintly emits a restless feeling, like that of a volcano. Looks like this should be related to the ‘Heavenly Flame’, which he controls.” Hu Gan’s gaze swept over Xiao Yan’s body and was actually able to sense the nature of Dou Qi within the other person’s body. This skill was indeed worthy of being the Deputy Headmaster of Jia Nan Academy’s Outer Academy.
“Since you are all here, I shall not continue to be long-winded. You should all know the reason as to why I called all of you over.” Hu Gan stood up from his chair and said with a smile, “You are the top five students of this Qualifying Competition. According to the rules, you have the qualification to enter the ‘Book Collection Hall’ to try your luck.”
As he spoke, Hu Gan walked to a wall behind him. His hand randomly tapped a couple of times on it and a soft, deep rumbling noise resonated. A dark tunnel immediately appeared in front of the five of them.
“Follow me.” Hu Gan waved his hand at the five of them and took the lead in entering the dark tunnel. Behind him, Hu Jia, whose face was filled with curiosity, followed him without any hesitation. Following which, Wu Hao and Bai Shan entered. Only after they had entered did Xiao Yan pull Xun Er and carefully enter this dark, black tunnel. These years of training had forged that cautious character of his.
After entering the tunnel, Xiao Yan discovered that there were huge glowing pearls inserted in the walls. The faint glow shone onto the tunnel until it appeared a little hazy. However, this little bit of light was already sufficient for Xiao Yan and the rest.
The atmosphere was quiet within the tunnel. There was only soft rustling footsteps. Xiao Yan swept his gaze over Hu Gan, who was leading the way in front of them. The hand which he used to hold Xun Er grew a little tighter. As a new person who had just arrived, it could not be said that he was familiar with this Jia Nan Academy. He similarly had very superficial knowledge of the character of the extremely strong Deputy Headmaster.
Having seemingly sensed Xiao Yan’s anxiety, Xun Er gently patted his hand, smiled at him and shook her head.
Xiao Yan nodded slightly and inhaled a deep breath of air. His emotions gradually recovered to being calm, and his footsteps also became a little quicker.
After walking in the tunnel for nearly half an hour or so, a bright light finally appeared at the end of the tunnel. When they saw this light, the footsteps of the few people within the tunnel also became much faster. A moment later, they finally arrived at the end of the tunnel and took one step out of it.
Eye-piercing light scattered down from the horizon, causing Xiao Yan and the others to shut their eyes habitually. A long while later, they slowly opened them and looked at the scene that appeared in front of them. They were slightly shocked.
At this moment, the scene that was in front of Xiao Yan and the others was clearly a certain valley groove. That precipitous mountain wall extended all the way up vertically. Finally, it extended all the way to the edge of one’s sight. Within the three surfaces of the cliff, there was coincidentally an extremely spacious empty land. At this moment, a massive, ancient pavilion, which was so large that it left one speechless, was standing there.
Their gazes slowly swept across the large, ancient pavilion and finally stopped on an extremely ancient horizontal signboard that was on the pavilion. On it, three words, that had become blurry due to the destruction of time, appeared faintly visible.
Book Collection Hall!
The ancient words may have undergone the destruction of time but Xiao Yan and the rest still felt shock at the rustic artistic conception contained within those words. It was worthy of being the mysterious Book Collection Hall of the Jia Nan Academy’s Outer Academy. Just this horizontal signboard had already revealed its status.
Hu Gan led the five of them as they slowly walked toward the Book Collection Hall. They were about to enter a twenty meter distance from the Hall, when Hu Gan suddenly stopped. He cupped his hands in the direction of the Book Collection Hall and said, “The top five names for this year’s Qualifying Competition have already been born. According to the rules, I have brought them here. Elders, please open the door!”
Hu Gan’s words were carried by Dou Qi as they reverberated unceasingly within the small mountain valley. They did not disappear for a long time.
Not long after Hu Gan’s words sounded, Xiao Yan’s eyes, which were staring intently at the Book Collection Hall, suddenly shrunk. His gaze shifted abruptly. Finally, they stopped on the two grey-robed figures, who were seated cross-legged on the ground. When they had entered earlier, he clearly saw that there was not a single person here!
Yet, at this moment, these two grey-robed people appeared, as though they had been sitting here all this while. This bizarre scene caused some chillness and shock to appear in his heart. On top of being shocked, however, the interest he had for this Book Collection Hall grew increasingly dense. For it to be treated this solemnly by the Jia Nan Academy, it was likely that the things that were placed here should also not be some ordinary things.
“This place is indeed worthy of being part of Jia Nan Academy. Its heritage is indeed rich.”