Volume 1 –
Chapter 54: Entering the Institute
Some time passed, and then the freshman student returned, letter in hand.
“You’re Yang Qi, right? Come with me. For the most part, you already have your place as a student here. However, you still need to do a test to check your energy arts and cultivation base.”
“Okay.” All of a sudden, it felt like a great weight had been lifted from his shoulders. This entire time, he had worried that there might be some holdup because of internal matters in the institute. But now, everything seemed to be going smoothly. And considering the level of his cultivation base, he shouldn’t have any problem fitting in.
Thus, he followed the freshman student into the entrance.
This was merely a building set aside to accept new students into the Demi-Immortal Institute; it had dozens of floors, and was constructed with bricks of white jade. Everything was carved with exquisite texts and images depicting various martial disciplines, sword stances, aphorisms and proverbs. It simply pulsed with a sensation of knowledge and power.
Yang Qi went through various hallways that twisted and turned through the building, and climbed higher and higher, until they were on the eighteenth floor. Eventually, they reached a room filled with wooden bookcases, all of which were apparently crafted from expensive sandalwood.
In the middle of the hall was a middle-aged man, standing there reading a book. From this high vantage point, the scenery was beautiful, with a clear view of the plains and the rivers beyond the institute.
A tremor passed through Yang Qi as he sensed that this man was a Master of Energy. His true energy was mighty to the extreme; he was clearly many times more powerful than Yang Zhan with the airmastery plant.
Up to now, Yang Qi had always assumed that the most powerful experts in the Master of Energy level would only be a bit stronger than his father.
But now he could see that he had truly been a frog in a well, his eyes obscured by a single leaf.
If one split the Master of Energy phase up into three overall levels, then Yang Zhan and people like him would be at the lowest level.
It didn’t take Yang Qi long to reconcile himself to this fact, though. After all, the world was a large place, and if a freakish hellion like himself could rise up, why couldn’t other freakish hellions exist in other places?
This was the Demi-Immortal Institute, the number one most domineering organization in all the lands; it only made sense for it to abound with remarkable things.
The freshman student immediately bowed to the middle-aged man and then said, “Sect Uncle Chu, I’ve brought a new student here with an introduction letter.”
“Very well. You wait outside.”
The man waved his hand, sending the book in his hand flying off to a nearby shelf.
“So, young man, your name is Yang Qi. Is that right?”
Yang Qi was doing his best to keep his cultivation base completely under cover, leaving only the true energy of the Invincible King’s Fist flowing through him. Everything else was hidden away in his sea of energy, and would appear as little more than a speck of nothing to anyone who looked at it.
That was a function of the Strength of the Hell-Crushing Godmammoth. It could take true energy and turn it into a speck of nothing, then turn that speck into a megamammoth, all in the blink of an eye.
“You’re in the eighth phase. Not bad. And you just turned eighteen? If you can become a Master of Energy before twenty, your aptitude will be considered toward the top. Of course, Yanhaven is a small place. Presumably something miraculous happened to you?”
The man looked at Yang Qi with shining eyes, and was instantly able to tell ‘everything about him’.
“Wow, Professor Chu, you have sharp eyes. Yes, I was struck by lightning a while back, which made my meridians stronger, and advanced my cultivation significantly.”
“Oh? Struck by lightning, but didn’t die?” With another wave of his hand, he sent a stream of true energy into Yang Qi’s meridians.
Yang Qi plastered a look of surprise onto his face. However, he had already disguised his meridians to reveal only about ten percent of their full level.
The man’s true energy was as nimble as a fish, and almost seemed intelligent as it went through him. After coursing through his meridians a few times, it came to rest at his sea of energy for a bit before leaving.
“Strong meridians,” the man said. “And a good fleshly body. What energy arts and martial disciplines did you study? Why don’t you do a little demonstration?”
“Yes sir,” Yang Qi said. He quickly went through the forms of the Invincible King’s Fist, summoning the six arms of true energy to accompany him. Each move he did was better than the last; overall, it was a very impressive performance.
The man instantly recognized what he was looking at. “The Invincible King’s Fist. It’s too bad you haven’t been cultivating the full discipline. That’s a royal-class energy art with nine forms, but you only have six of them. I would guess that our Demi-Immortal Institute’s Scripture Pavilion probably has the full set. You just need to perform some meritorious service for the institute and you’ll be able to get your hands on it. Very well, that’s enough. You can go get your uniform now. You’re a freshman student, so from here on out, you will only go up in the world. Understand?”
“Freshman student?” Yang Qi replied, a bit stunned. He had originally assumed that he would come in with a higher rank.
“What. Not happy?” Apparently, the man could tell what Yang Qi was thinking. “Everyone here starts out as a freshman student. The only way to rise in the ranks is to perform meritorious service, get stronger, and learn more. Now go. The Elder Brother outside will take you to the place where you can clean up and change into your uniform. You’ll also be assigned a residence. Leave a record of your name at the admissions desk, and remember that you could be called in for assessment at any time.”
“Yes sir,” Yang Qi replied. Originally, he had assumed that he would be able to see his aunt right away, and possibly even Yun Hailan or Song Haishan. But now, he was coming to realize that in the Demi-Immortal Institute, rank and status were extremely important.
He needed to spend some time getting used to all the new rules and situations. Right now, he was too much in the dark.
At the moment, he didn’t even dare to cast his true energy out to get a sense of his surroundings. There were just too many powerful auras, and if they caught on to him, they would definitely try to figure out who he was.
Back outside, the freshman student he had met earlier was waiting there, looking a bit bored. Upon seeing him emerge, he said, “Well, Junior Brother, congratulations on becoming a member of the Demi-Immortal Institute. From here on out, you’re one of the top dogs in the Rich-Lush Continent!”
“Thanks so much!” Yang Qi replied. “I hope you’ll look out for me, Elder Brother. Might I ask your honored surname and distinguished given name? And please accept a little gift to establish our friendship.”
Smiling, he handed him a banknote worth one hundred thousand energy convergence pills.
That was no small number.
The freshman student nodded knowingly. “Of course, I’m happy to help out, Junior Brother. My name’s Li He. Pleasure to meet you. Alright, come with me, we need to get your uniform and identity plaque. Then you’ll officially be a student of our institute.”
With that, Li He led him down into the institute itself. Majestic pavilions and kiosks could be seen everywhere. Compared to this, the city magistrate’s mansion in Yanhaven was like an ant colony.
As he walked along, Yang Qi almost felt like he was in paradise. At one point, he said, “Since I only just arrived, Elder Brother Li, I don’t really understand how the sect works. Could you give me a quick rundown so that I don’t make any mistakes right off the bat?”
“Ah, that’s easy. We’re the lowest ranked students in the Demi-Immortal Institute: the freshmen. Above us are the outer campus students, and then the inner campus students. After that are the elite students, and then the conclave students. Anyone who goes past the conclave student level is called a holy neophyte.” The envy in Li He’s voice was clear. “
Those people are legends. I’ve been in the Demi-Immortal Institute for eight years, and I’ve never even seen one of them.”
“What?” Yang Qi said, shocked. “You’ve been here for eight years and still haven’t been promoted? Is it really that hard to get into the Outer Campus?”
“It’s indeed hard,” Li He said bitterly. “Very hard…. Unless you’re a genius who constantly advances by leaps and bounds, you have to do it the slow way. According to the rules of the institution, you have to have performed plenty of meritorious services, and cultivated your energy arts all the way to the ninth phase. Then, if you pass the test, you can become an outer campus student.”
“What?” Yang Qi said, stunned. “Only Masters of Energy can join the Outer Campus? What about the inner campus students? How strong are they?”
“Most of the inner campus students are Masters of Energy, too. However, they’re all the best of the best. For example, that professor who just gave you the test is one. As for the elite students, they’re all past the Master of Energy level, and are Lifeseizers.”
Considering the gift Yang Qi had given him, Li He was giving a very detailed explanation of everything.
“Junior Brother, if you want to rise through the ranks, you either need to hand in a lot of merit points, or advance your cultivation dramatically. If you can pass the Master of Energy level, and seize life from heaven, the institute will promote you to elite student level. It’s sort of a shortcut, and in fact, the easiest way to get promoted.” Li He chuckled bitterly. “I’m still in the eighth phase, and unable to become a Master of Energy. Most of the freshman students are like me, stuck in the seventh or eighth phases.”
“I guess that’s to be expected from the Demi-Immortal Institute….” Yang Qi shook his head. Back in Yanhaven, people in the seventh or eighth phase were clan lords. Here, they were freshmen. ‘At least I’ll finally be able to get a look at a Lifeseizer. I wonder how strong they are?’
Before long, Li He and Yang Qi arrived at a room, inside of which was a bed, a desk, and various other necessities of life. It was actually very spacious.
“This is your room. Over there is your uniform. Put that on, and you’re an official student of the Demi-Immortal Institute. As for your daily tasks, you’ll be informed of that later. Whatever you do, don’t ever offend any of the important people among the freshman students. If you do, you’ll have a very hard time getting along.” With that, Li He waited outside for Yang Qi to get changed.
The uniform consisted of an exquisite white robe made of snow silk, which would keep one warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Back in Yanhaven, a robe like this would have been considered a treasure.
There was also a jade pendant which was carved with the words:
Upon stepping out of his room, Yang Qi smoothed his robes, looked at Li He, and said, “By the way, Elder Brother Li, do you know a girl around here named Yun Hailan?”
1. Li He: Li is an extremely common surname that also means “plum”. He means “crane”. Incidentally, the He rhymes with “duh”