“Great, great, Yuan’er is truly the dragon of our Zhou clan!”
At the dining table, there was a healthy radiant glow on Zhou Qing’s face while his usually sterness was replaced by unconcealable happiness. He beamed as he looked towards Zhou Yuan and chuckled, “You might not know but Chu Tianyang specially made a trip to the palace and praised you a whole lot.”
Evidently, he was aware of Zhou Yuan’s performance in the newcomer exam today.
By the side, Qin Yu was practically glowing as she looked at Zhou Yuan, her eyes similarly filled with joy.
Zhou Yuan ate his food and merely smiled in response to Zhou Qing’s and Qin Yu’s praise as he said, “It’s only a newcomer exam. The important one is the class ranking exam at the end of the year.”
Zhou Qing nodded upon hearing this and gleefully said, “No arrogance after victory. Brat, your years of suffering have not been in vain.”
“The year-end class ranking exam is indeed very important.”
Zhou Qing slowly continued, “Qi Manor has been eyeing the Great Zhou Institute and have secretly schemed for a long time. If they are allowed to take the number one spot in the year-end class ranking exam again, I’m afraid that they will begin to make things difficult.”
Cold light flashed in Zhou Qing’s eyes. It was clear that he hated Qi Manor to the extreme.
Qin Yu tenderly looked at Zhou Yuan and said in a somewhat hesitant manner, “But that Qi Yue has already opened six meridian channels and will likely become even stronger by the end of the year. Yuan’er’s starting point is much later than his…”
To make up for the gap between them, Zhou Yuan had to put in a tremendous amount of hard work.
Contrary to expectation, Zhou Yuan’s expression remained undisturbed. He smiled at Qin Yu and said, “Don’t worry mother and father. I will not let them have their way.”
Due to being unable to locate his meridian channels, the past him could only hide beneath his father’s wings. Now that he was able to cultivate, Zhou Yuan would naturally give his best effort to share some of the pressure his father was facing.
He clearly understood how dangerous the current situation was for Great Zhou.
Zhou Qing and Qin Yu felt gratified when they saw Zhou Yuan’s sensibility. However, the feelings of self-blame and heartache were greater. If they had realised king Wu’s plot in advance back then, Great Zhou would not have fallen to such a state and Zhou Yuan would not have to shoulder these burdens at his tender age.
Zhou Yuan sensed Zhou Qing’s and Qin Yu’s gloomy moods and immediately changed the topic. “Truthfully speaking, my success in the exam is mostly thanks to big sis Yaoyao’s guidance.”
By the side, when the silently dining Yaoyao with Tuntun on her lap heard these words, her gaze lightly swept across Zhou Yuan as if unhappy that he had shifted the attention to her.
Zhou Qing nodded upon hearing this and smiled. “Miss Yaoyao is indeed our benefactor. Come, I’ll toast a cup to you.”
The moment he said this, Qin Yu’s displeased glare arrived. In her eyes, Yaoyao was still a young girl and Zhou Qing’s actions were practically leading her astray.
However, before she could speak, the eyes of the originally silent Yaoyao brightened slightly as she raised her wine cup and drained it in a single gulp.
Zhou Qing was stunned. He glanced at Qin Yu, seeing her displeased gaze and awkwardly laughed before quickly finishing the wine in his cup. After which, he no longer dared to speak of toasting.
An oil lamp burned within a study, spreading dusky yellow light.
A middle-aged man in yellow robes sat upright behind a desk, expressionless as he flipped through the books. A cold and stern aura rose from between his brows, while a faint pressure spread outwards, causing no one to dare to underestimate this individual.
Qi Yue stood in front of the desk, his hands hanging by his side while his face respectful.
“You say that crippled prince is now able to engage in channel opening cultivation?” After a long silence, the middle-aged man in yellow finally shifted his gaze away from his books and dully said.
“Yes father. He has defeated the four channel Lin Feng with the strength of two channels.” Qi Yue immediately responded.
This middle-aged man in yellow robes was king Qi of Great Zhou, Qi Yuan.
King Qi’s eyes narrowed slightly like a viper as he slowly said, “As expected of the one who once possessed the sacred dragon blessing. He can still crawl up even after being crippled to such an extent. Such tenacity.”
Killing intent flitted across Qi Yue’s eyes. “Father, do we send news of this to the Wu Empire?”
King Qi mumbled to himself for a while before shaking his head. “The Wu Empire is currently engaged in war with two neighbouring empires. How could they possibly spare any time for a Great Zhou on the verge of death. As for the crippled prince, his sacred dragon blessing was taken and he even received backlash in the form of the Dragon’s Resentment Poison. It is not so easy for him to recover. His current state is probably akin to the final radiance of a dying star.”
Qi Yue nodded upon hearing this. Zhou Yuan had been crippled far too greatly back then. Clawing his way back up would indeed be difficult.
“Moreover, even if he is really able to crawl back up, do you believe that I, Qi Yuan, will be afraid of a hairless brat?” Qi Yuan coldly chuckled before continuing, “I’ve prepared for so many years, and even Zhou Qing does not dare to do anything to me now. How can a mere two channel brat possibly alter the grand scheme of things?”
“If we have to inform Great Wu of a mere crippled prince, it will instead make them look down on us. If that happens, even if we take over Great Zhou in future, they will believe that we succeeded with little effort.”
Qi Yuan threw the book in his hand onto the table as he continued, “As long as the B class takes the number one position in the year-end class ranking exam, the Great Zhou Institute will be mine. That is most important.”
“Therefore, you must take first place in the year-end class ranking exam.”
In response to Qi Yuan’s gaze, Qi Yue nodded without the slightest shred of hesitation and confidently said, “Relax father. No one in the Great Zhou Institute will be able to compete with me in the year-end class ranking exam.”
“As for Zhou Yuan, if he does not tactfully back down, I will crippled him again and see if he is still able to crawl back up!”
As he spoke, a sinister smile emerged from the corners of his lips.
The next day.
In the early morning, Zhou Yuan continued his uninterrupted practice of the ninety eight frolicking dragon forms before proceeding to the daily channel unblocking.
After finishing, he washed his body and left the royal palace, heading straight for the Great Zhou Institute.
Now that he had entered the A class, he could not longer frequently miss classes like before.
Great Zhou Institute, A class courtyard.
A dozen figures were gathered in a spacious lecture yard, the atmosphere abuzz with noise and excitement.
When Zhou Yuan, Su Youwei and the other new student entered, the dozen gazes in the yard turned towards them, filled with curiosity and anticipation.
The Zhou Yuan trio were taken aback by such attention.
While they were stunned, two figures in the lecture yard walked over, one male, the other female. The young man’s body looked strong and sturdy, and his skin was a little tanned. A smile decorated his rather rough-looking face, making him appear like a straightforward individual.
The young lady was rather pretty. Although she could not compare to Su Youwei, her long and slender legs were quite eye-catching.
The tanned and straightforward-looking youth smiled at the Zhou Yuan trio and said, “Hehe, welcome you three. I am the class head of the A class, Yang Zai.”
“I am Song Qiushui.” The pretty girl winked at the trio, smiling happily as she continued, “We found out yesterday that your highness Zhou Yuan and the rest of you chose the A class, so here we are today waiting for you guys.”
She looked towards Su Youwei and pursed her smiling lips, “Of course, those fellows are more likely looking forward to meeting the number one beauty of our Great Zhou Institute.”
Upon hearing her teasing, Su Youwei’s fair face blushed a little. Her enchanting appearance drew the dumbstruck stares of quite a few boys in the yard.
Yang Zai chuckled as he looked at Zhou Yuan and said, “Your highness’ performance in the newcomer exam yesterday has already spread throughout the entire institute. With you three joining the A class, our power and fame will definitely rise.”
Zhou Yuan cupped his hands together and smiled. “There is no ‘your highness’ here, call me Zhou Yuan.”
Yang Zai was a little taken aback by Zhou Yuan’s placid mannerisms, but quickly showed a simple-looking smile as he nodded his head. “Since your highness says so, we will feel free to do so.”
The group introduced themselves to each other and the A class members were swiftly acquainted. These older students were also youths and were both kind and friendly. Thus, there was no case of ‘putting the new students in their place’ and the group quickly grew closer after getting to know each other.
It was in this time that Zhou Yuan came to know that Yang Zai was the number one individual in the A class, hence his election as class head. He had opened five meridian channels and while Song Qiushui was slightly weaker, she too had opened five meridian channels.
Such strength was indeed inferior to Qi Yue. No wonder Chu Tianyang constantly worried about the year-end class ranking exam.
While the group was getting to know each other better, Chu Tianyang walked into the yard and coughed softly, immediately causing the many noisy boys and girls to quieten down as they respectfully said, “Greetings class master.”
Chu Tianyang nodded in acknowledgement. “From today, there will be three more members in our A class. You guys should have already acquainted yourselves with them right?”
The many boys and girls responded with a yes.
“Good. From today, your training will be doubled.” Chu Tianyang indifferently declared with his hands behind his back.
The moment these words were heard, a series of complaints and grumbling erupted.
Chu Tianyang coldly snorted, suppressing the various noises as he raised his voice. “The year-end class ranking exam is not far off. If you guys still do not put in more effort in training and no one is able to reach six channels by the end of the year, you won’t even have the qualifications to vie with others. When that happens, the A class will become the B class. What face will you guys have left then?!”
Ashamed looked emerged on the students faces after being chided as they hastily lowered their heads, while the strongest Yang Zai and Song Qiushui let out a bitter laugh. Though they had done all they could to catch up, the momentum was currently with the B class and Qi Yue was just too formidable, firmly suppressing them from start to end.
Upon seeing that everyone no longer dared to speak, Chu Tianyang’s expression relaxed as he said, “Everyone make your preparations, the Jade Spirit Waterfall opens today. I hope that no one will delay us.”
The moment these words were said, the eyes of the many boys and girls in the yard abruptly brightened as their faces filled with excitement.
“Jade Spirit Waterfall…”
Zhou Yuan’s heart trembled slightly when he heard this as interest and curiosity was revealed in his eyes.
He had long heard father mention a cultivation treasure land in the Great Zhou Institute, which was the ‘Jade Spirit Waterfall’ that Chu Tianyang had spoken of.
This was also one of the main reasons why Zhou Yuan was unwilling to miss any classes after entering the A class.