Chapter 187: Escaped
Cutting off one of their hands? Crippling their cultivation?
...that'd be considered 'just enough'?
But even as he was thinking to himself, Bai Yunfei could already feel the corners of his lips twitch. It didn't matter if he was looking at the second elder flying in the sky or the middle-aged woman affectionately combing the hair of her daughter, Bai Yunfei could only feel a sweat drop crawling down his face.
Fidgeting around, Bai Yunfei cautiously said to the middle-aged woman, "Uhm... senior, if this junior may, may I leave? I've yet to take my examinations to enter the Crafting School..."
"Oh?" The woman looked surprised, "You wish to join the Crafting School?"
"A late-stage Soul Sprite..." The woman measured Bai Yunfei with an eye and a nod of the head, "Not bad. Judging from your age, you must be in your twenties?"
She couldn't be blamed for thinking that Bai Yunfei was in his twenties. After all that had happened to Bai Yunfei-especially in the last half year of traveling. Bai Yunfei had matured greatly since his departure from Talus City. Combined with the recent travel fatigue from hurrying on the road, Bai Yunfei had been 'weathered' by wind and rain so that he looked completely different than before.
"I turned nineteen just last month." Bai Yunfei scratched his head in embarrassment.
"What? You're only nineteen? That's only four years younger than me, how could that be!" Fei Nian suddenly cried out in disbelief. Song Lin had only just reset and healed his arm, but now, both he, Song Lin, and Lian Lingmin were all stunned to hear his age.
"I really am nineteen..." Bai Yunfei shrugged his shoulders as if to tell them, "There's no point in lying to you. It's up to you if you believe me or not."
"Nineteen..." Even the middle-aged woman hadn't thought that to be Bai Yunfei's age. She started to re-evaluate him once more. Just faintly, Bai Yunfei could feel a wave of soulforce wash over his body. It persisted for a few seconds as the woman looked at Bai Yunfei before finally smiling. "Ah, yes. I see now. With a talent like this, you're of the same standing of Song Lin..."
"With your case, becoming an inheritor to one of the elders of the Fire School wouldn't be a challenge for you, or perhaps even becoming a student of the schoolmaster there. Why come to our Crafting School?" The woman asked him.
Surprised by such a question, Bai Yunfei could only answer honestly, "To learn the art of craftsmanship and grow strong!"
"The art of crafting isn't something that can be learned even if one has talent for cultivation. Even if you pass the examinations, it doesn't mean you'll have success in the crafting aspect. In the worst case scenario, it'd impede your desire to grow stronger..."
"Without giving it a try, how would I know the answer?" By now, Bai Yunfei had figured out what the middle-aged woman was getting at, "Besides... I've confidence in myself!"
"Is that right? Ohoho..." She didn't know where this confidence was coming from, but the woman nodded in satisfaction. "Where did you come from?" She asked, "Are you perhaps here at the request of your family?"
"This junior is from Talus City of the Azure Cloud Province..." A flash of bereavement entered Bai Yunfei's eyes at mention of his homelands, but he continued speaking anyways. "I'm no child of any families or clans. I am but a commoner with no family left in the world..."
His response raised the eyebrows of the woman. She had noticed the fluctuations of his mood from his response. With a sparkle in her eyes, she nodded her head again, "Very well, there's no need for you to take the examinations. With your strength as a late-stage Soul Sprite with an affinity for the elemental fire, taking the examinations down here is worthless. Go up the mountain and take the examination for crafting."
Her words filled Bai Yunfei's heart with elation, but his face was still as calm as stone. Giving a respectful bow to the woman, he replied in gratitude, "Thank you so much, third elder!"
"Yes, yes." The woman nodded before turning toward the direction of the examination. From there, a set of footsteps could be heard before a group of ten students arrived shortly afterward.
"Song Lin, Lingmin, continue with the examinations. Make the preparations for Bai Yunfei to go up with the others to take the next examination." The woman nodded at each of the students here and gave them all commands. With a wave of her right hand, a green sword appeared in front of her, and with another wave, elemental fire began to float into the sword. She along with the young girl began to rise into the air with the sword beneath her feet, and within seconds, they flew through the sky.
"Brother straw-hat! Let's meet again on top of the mountains! Heehee..." From far away, the voice of the young girl came calling out, eliciting a grimace on Bai Yunfei's face as soon as he heard it.
He stumbled back and stowed away the straw-hat as fast as he could. If he were to gain a nickname like this in the future, it would be utterly embarrassing!
"Ah!" From far away, a cry of distress could be heard from the little girl.
"Where's Xiao Rourou, I lost him..."
As if to respond to her, the distressed call of the 'pig' could be heard on the ground below. Saddened about being forgotten, the late-stage fifth-tier soulbeast's head was lifted toward the sky, watching the little girl. In no time at all, the soulbeast disappeared in a trail of dust as it chased after the two flying figures...
A sweat drop fell from Bai Yunfei's head.
"Well then... now that everything's done and dealt with, let's continue with the examinations." Song Lin clapped his hands and called out to one of the students, "Sanxian, come here."
"Senior, what is it that you need?" The one named 'Sanxian' asked. He was a young man with thick eyebrows.
Song Lin pointed at Bai Yunfei, "He is Bai Yunfei, take him up to where the others are waiting to take the next examination. He'll be taking the crafting examination rather than the first one."
Not expecting this request, Sanxian looked stunned for a moment before nodding his head. "Understood." He replied.
From there, Song Lin took the other students with him back to the examination grounds, including the newly-recovered Fei Nian who glared at Bai Yunfei briefly before following Song Lin away.
Smiling, San Xian looked to Bai Yunfei, "Bai Yunfei, is it? I'm Zhang Sanxian, a student of Nan Feng. You can call me Sanxian! Let's head on over then, it won't take even an hour to finish off the rest of the applicants for the first examination."
"Yes, then, if you'd please lead the way, senior Sanxian." Bai Yunfei spoke.
"Haha, well said! Once you enter the Crafting School, we will be fellow students, so there's no point to being so polite." Zhang Sanxian laughed out loud as he lead the way.
As they walked, Zhang Sanxian asked, "Ah, junior Bai, what happened just now? I swear I saw the second and third elder..."
Contrary to his previous words, Zhang Sanxian took advantage of Bai Yunfei being a prospective student and called him his 'junior.' Bai Yunfei didn't know whether or not he should be retelling what happened, so he decided to answer vaguely. "It wasn't much. One of the failed applicants from before tried doing something here, and I caught him..."
"Oh, I see..." Zhang Sanxian could tell that Bai Yunfei was holding back the entire story, so he decided not to press on with his questions. Changing the subject, he asked, "Well, junior Bai, you won't be needing the first examination right? If you're entering the next round of the examinations, that must mean one of the seniors tested you already?"
"Not at all, but the third elder has said that I was already a late-stage Soul Sprite with an affinity for the elemental fire and that I'd not need to take the first examination."
"What!? You're a Soul Sprite!?" Zhang Sanxian's eyes popped wide open at that.
Bai Yunfei nodded.
"Woah! Just comparing the two of us makes me want to cry. I've worked hard since I joined the school when I was eighteen, but I'm only a late-stage Soul Warrior. You look to be my age, yet you're already a Soul Sprite. How amazing are you!?"
"Haha, brother Sanxian, you praise me too much. I was only lucky, really..."
Either Zhang Sanxian was very enthusiastic around Bai Yunfei, or he was originally a chatterbox to begin with. Throughout the walk, Zhang Sanxian would tell him so-and-so about the Crafting School and would often answer Bai Yunfei's questions without hesitation. Obviously, most of his answers were already common knowledge to the outer world, but Bai Yunfei wasn't aware of most of these things, hence why he asked. Other than that, Bai Yunfei knew better than to ask about the Crafting School's more secretive things and never once asked about them.
Before long, the two of them arrived at the examination grounds. Looking around, Bai Yunfei could see that the amount of people here was reduced to more than half the original amount, but among these people, a good amount of them were just bystanders that wanted to stick around to watch the examinations.
Bai Yunfei was led to the the rightmost part of the mountain base. All of the people that had passed the first round of examinations were gathered in the same area as well.
In this one area, only a hundred people had actually passed-with the first examinations ending, only a meager hundred had passed!
Now that the two of them had arrived, Zhang Sanxian said to Bai Yunfei, "Junior Bai, please wait here for now. I'll be helping the others finish off the rest of the examinations. From there, we'll take you to the crafting examinations.
Bai Yunfei nodded his head, "Please do what you must, brother Sanxian. Don't worry about me."
Looking around the area, Bai Yunfei found himself a nice and isolated place to rest. Sitting on top of a giant boulder, Bai Yunfei was about to close his eyes and rest when a loud voice suddenly called out to him from behind.
"Hey, kid! I saw you come out of the forest. What makes you think you can come here without taking the examinations?"