The atmosphere in the inner palace was somewhat stifling. Zhou Qing’s expression was dark while murder surged in his eyes. It was clear that he was now full of killing intent due to king Qi’s actions.
However, Zhou Qing ultimately gritted his teeth and restraint his killing intent. This was because the current king Qi was also very powerful. Moreover, the Great Wu Empire secretly supported him. If Zhou Qing was to openly declare war, even if he won, their Great Zhou’s many years of recovery would be wasted. When that happened, the internal troubles and outside hostility facing Great Zhou would cause it to be wiped out.
King Qi needed to be eliminated, but this had to be done step by step. The current Great Zhou could not afford too much turmoil.
Zhou Qing deeply breathed in and slowly said, “There is still half a year to the class ranking exam. Who has the best chance of obtaining the top rank this time?”
Chu Tianyang was silent for a while before he replied, “There are indeed some pretty good saplings amongst this batch of students, but I’m afraid that the most outstanding one is B class’ Qi Yue. He has already opened his sixth meridian channel.”
“Qi Yue…” It was impossible to tell whether Zhou Qing was angry or happy as he said in a low voice, “King Qi’s two sons are truly talented.”
Qi Yue was the second of king Qi’s two sons.
“So it looks like first place will land in Qi Yue’s hands?”
Chu Tianyang mumbled to himself a little after hearing this before he replied, “That might not be the case. Our Great Zhou Institute still has a genius that is even more outstanding than Qi Yue. If she enters the A class, there might be a possibility of contesting against Qi Yue half a year later.”
“Oh?” Zhou Qing was slightly taken aback. A student that was even more talented than Qi
Yue in the Great Zhou Institute?
Chu Tianyang chuckled before looking to Zhou Yuan as he grinned and said, “Could your majesty have forgotten his highness little girlfriend, Su Youwei?”
Zhou Yuan was somewhat embarrassed by Chu Tianyang’s teasing laughter. The former’s face was slightly red as he replied, “Youwei is a friend, not a girlfriend!”
Zhou Qing also understood at this moment and suddenly said, “You mean the little lass that Yuan’er recommended into the institute right?”
Chu Tianyang nodded and said, “Yes, she is called Su Youwei. However, she has already opened her third meridian channel. Although she entered the institute a little later than usual, she will surely be able to take one of the top spots in this year's newcomer exam.”
Zhou Qing exclaimed in surprise. “Already opened her third meridian channel?” This speed was indeed rather quick. At this rate, she might open all eight meridian channels in a year and reach the Qi Nourishing stage.
The little lass called Su Youwei was indeed rather talented and her prospects practically limitless.
“Looks like Yuan’er has unearthed a genius for Great Zhou.” Zhou Qing smiled at Zhou Yuan.
Chu Tianyang also smiled. Soon after however, he said in a somewhat worried manner, “But according to the information I have gathered, Qi Yue has come into contact with Su Youwei in hopes of drawing her over to their side. If he succeeds, I’m afraid that Su Youwei will join the B class after the newcomer exam.”
He then looked towards Zhou Yuan as he smiled and said, “Hence, another reason why I came here was to ask for your highness help. At the minimum, I hope that you can help our A class get a stable hold on Su Youwei.”
Zhou Yuan’s eyes suddenly became a little more imposing upon hearing this. To think that Qi Yue would actually dare to target Youwei. Zhou Yuan fairly trusted Su Youwei, and felt that Qi Yue could not possibly entice her to their side, but he was worried that Qi Yue would try to hinder her.
“Don’t worry your highness, I have long since sent people to secretly protect Su Youwei. She will not be hurt.” Said Chu Tianyang with a smile as if he knew what Zhou Yuan was thinking.
Only then did Zhou Yuan breath a small sigh of relief before he lightly nodded. “Headmaster also does not need to worry. After the newcomer exam, Su Youwei and I will join the A class.”
Only then did Chu Tianyang nod as he smiled and said, “As long as your highness can bring Su Youwei into the A class, I will bend the rules and also allow your highness in.”
According to the rules, only the top ten individuals had the qualifications to enter the A class. Despite Zhou Yuan’s bit of skill in Genesis Runes, it was likely that he would still be unable to rank amongst the top ten given that he had yet to open even a single meridian channel. Thus, from Chu Tianyang’s point of view, Zhou Yuan needed certain special procedures in order to enter the A class.
Zhou Qing could not help but laugh as he remarked, “To make a stickler to the rules like you make such a concession, looks like you think very highly of Su Youwei.”
Zhou Yuan also smiled as he looked at Chu Tianyang. “It is Youwei’s fortune to be so highly appraised by headmaster. As for me, there is no need to make things difficult for headmaster with regards to opening a backdoor for me. I will do my best to take one of the top ten spots in the newcomer exam.”
If it was before, where he was unable to open his meridian channels, Zhou Yuan would perhaps have no better option than to rely on Genesis Runes. But now that his eight meridian channels had appeared, he could formally begin his channel opening training and was naturally no longer worried that he would not be able to catch up to those people.
Chu Tianyang was under the impression that the young Zhou Yuan wanted to maintain his dignity when he heard this reply. Hence, Chu Tianyang planned to persuade the latter again.
“Hehe, let him try.” Zhou Qing waved his hand at Chu Tianyang while chuckling. “Yuan’er’s eight meridian channels have emerged and can formally begin his cultivation training.”
Chu Tianyang was initially stunned by these words. Happiness involuntarily surged on his face as he cupped his fists together and said, “So that’s why. Then I’ll have to congratulate your majesty and your highness.”
It was only now that he understood why Zhou Qing was so cheerful today. The cultivation problem that had plagued Zhou Yuan for many years had finally been resolved.
“My A class awaits your highness’ grand arrival. Hehe, your highness will perhaps even be able to achieve some glory for my A class in the class ranking exam in half a year.”
Of course, these words of his were mostly flattery. After all, from his point of view, although Zhou Yuan was able to begin channel opening cultivation, his starting point was still rather late compared to others. At the very least, it was likely that he would not be able to contest against the Great Zhou Institute’s top students in the a short period of half a year.”
Chu Tianyang was clearly much more at ease after confirming the matter of Su Youwei. After discussing some matters with Zhou Qing, the former bid his goodbyes and left.
Seeing that Chu Tianyang had left, Zhou Qing turned to Zhou Yuan and said, “Now that your eight meridian channels have appeared, prepare to begin your training tomorrow.”
Zhou Yuan nodded. Though his thin and immature face was calm, his eyes burned with impatience. He could not wait to get started.
The next day.
Zhou Yuan and Yaoyao carrying Tuntun sat on the left side of a table, while Zhou Qing and Qin Yu sat on the right.
On the table was a porcelain bowl the size of a washbasin. It was filled with a brown soup-like liquid which faintly glimmered with small specks of light. A strong fragrance rose from the bowl and a single breath of it made one’s face flush red.
Zhou Qing smiled at Zhou Yuan and explained, “This is the Nine Beast Soup and is made from nine types of tier 1 Genesis Beasts. The ingredients neutralize each other and it is a great supplement to a beginner practitioner like yourself. The past you was unable to open your meridian channels and thus could not drink this as your body might not be able to take it. But now, you can.”
Zhou Yuan nodded. He knew that this Nine Beast Soup was their royal clan’s secret recipe and a single bowl was worth a fortune. Ordinary clans would likely not be able to afford it even with half a year of earnings.
This was the so-called cultivation resource.
“Besides this, you shall no longer eat normal rice.” With a wave of Zhou Qing’s hand, a servant girl brought in a silver bowl. It was a bowl of rice.
However, this rice was sparkled like crystal. Every grain was equally plump, while mystical patterns were barely discernible on the each one. The rice emitted extremely gentle Genesis Qi undulations.
“This is the Mysterious Crystal Rice, a grade 2 Genesis Food. It contains extremely pure and gentle Genesis Qi that is easy to absorb. If eaten in the long run, it will help speed up the rate of opening one’s meridian channels.”
“So this is Mysterious Crystal Rice…” Zhou Yuan curiously observed the bowl of crystal-like rice. He had long heard of this dish because it was practically considered Great Zhou’s strategic resource.
The medicinal effect of this Mysterious Crystal Rice was was perhaps incomparable to the earlier Nine Beast Soup. However, the Mysterious Crystal Rice had the advantage of being gentle in nature and consuming it in the long run would better the quality of one’s body, hence speeding up the rate of channel opening.
Thus, the cultivation method for the Mysterious Crystal Rice was controlled by the royal clan and was used to both reward those who did good service and win over the hearts of the people.
Hence, though it was only a grade 2 Genesis Food, due to certain special reasons, its true value was difficult to put in words.
Zhou Qing could not help but chuckle as he watched the excited Zhou Yuan. Zhou Qing knew that the Zhou Yuan of the past coveted this Mysterious Crystal Rice, but because his eight meridian channels had never appeared, he was unable to consume and utilise it.
“Our Great Zhou royal storage room originally had an extremely potent grade 4 Genesis Food, ‘Blood Rain-Dragon Barley’. Long term consumption would strengthen one’s physical body and cause Blood Rain-Dragon scales to grow. These scales possess great defensive power.” Said Zhou Qing with a sigh.
“Grade 4 Genesis Food, Blood Rain-Dragon Barley?” Zhou Yuan licked his lips. With the knowledge of how awesome the grade 2 Mysterious Crystal Rice was already, just how crazy would that grade 4 Blood Rain-Dragon Barley be?
Zhou Qing nodded in acknowledgement. Soon after however, his expression dimmed as he said, “It’s a pity that these strategic treasures of our Great Zhou royal storage were taken by king Wu during the chaos caused by Great Wu back then.”
Zhou Yuan was initially stunned before he involuntarily gritted his teeth. This wretched king Wu had really cleaned out the treasures that originally belonged to Great Zhou.
Zhou Qing regained control of his feelings and said to Zhou Yuan, “Eat these first then prepare to start training.”
Zhou Yuan forcefully nodded. Although king Wu was loathsome, what Zhou Yuan needed to do now was to eat and work hard in his cultivation. Only when he became strong would he be able to take back what Great Zhou had lost.
A bowl of Nine Beast Soup and Mysterious Crystal Rice were similarly placed in front of Yaoyao.
“Yaoyao, you can try if these are to your liking. If you like them, they will be also be prepared for you in future.” Qin Yu smiled warmly as she looked at Yaoyao.
Yaoyao could feel Qin Yu’s kindness and lightly nodded in response before she drank a mouthful of Nine Beast Soup. However, it seemed that she was not too interested in the highly nutritious beast soup but instead lifted the bowl of Mysterious Crystal Rice and ate one small mouthful at a time.
Tuntun anxiously gazed at her from her lap, wagging its tail as it emitted pitiful-sounding ‘woo woo’ noises.
Yaoyao glanced at it and brought the Nine Beast Soup over to it after some thought.
Upon seeing this, Zhou Qing smiled and said, “Eh Yaoyao. The medicinal properties of the Nine Beast Soup is too strong. Ordinary pets cannot drink it…”
However, before he could finish his sentence, Tuntun had already widened its mouth and swallowed the soup together with the bowl in a single gulp.
After wolfing down the Nine Beast Soup, Tuntun let out a belch. Its patted its stomach with its paw while its eyes narrowed as if it was not sufficient.
Zhou Qing was astonished as he looked at the perfectly fine Tuntun.
“Father, Tuntun is a special creature.” Zhou Yuan could not help but grin after seeing this scene.
Tuntun could easily finish off a boulder in two to three bites, let alone a bowl of Nine Beast Soup.
Zhou Qing could only show a forced smile as he nodded before he picked up a jade bottle at his side and pour himself a cup of jadeite-color alcohol, causing the strong fragrance of alcohol to spread.
The smell of alcohol spread, causing the eyebrows of the silently eating Yaoyao to suddenly raise slightly as her clear and bright eyes looked towards Zhou Qing.
“May I have some of that?” Zhou Yuan and Qin Yu stared at Yaoyao in shock. It was the first time that a strong look of desire had appeared on her usually emotionless face.
Zhou Qing was also taken aback. In particular, he felt even more awkward when he saw the gaze of reproach Qin Yu threw at him for absentmindedly drinking in front of the children as he said, “This is Jadeite Brew. It is a strong alcoholic drink and not suitable for a young lady.”
However, Yaoyao continued to stare at him with bright and clear eyes, causing Zhou Qing to let out a bitter laugh before he signalled for a servant girl to place a bottle of Jadeite Brew in front of Yaoyao.
Yaoyao raised the wine bottle and tilted her head slightly, revealing slender swan-white neck, before she directly took a huge mouthful of the alcohol. A crimson flush immediately arose on her pretty jade-like face.
“Good.” Yaoyao released a soft laughter, a laughter akin to the chime of a silver bell.
Qin Yu glared at Zhou Qing, causing him to rub his nose and drink his alcohol in a slightly depressed manner. He would never have imagined that this mysterious girl, who always wore an uninterested look, would be fond of drinking.
By the side, Zhou Yuan seemed to be full of interest. When Yaoyao drank, she undoubtedly appeared even more breathtaking and full of life.
After downing an entire bottle of Jadeite Brew, Yaoyao’s clear eyes had become a little more watery. With a soft chuckle, she reached into her sleeve as a flash of light shot out and landed before Qin Yu.
Yaoyao smiled and said, “Auntie Qin, I can tell that your weak aura is most probably due to poor health. This little gift shall be my payment for the alcohol.”
The light gradually receded and transformed into a green palm-sized lotus. Eight lotus seeds flickered with green light within the flower like a jade masterpiece.
“This is?” Qin Yu blankly gazed at the green lotus.
Zhou Qing’s expression subconsciously changed as he said in astonishment, “Those are Green Jade Lotus Seeds, a rare Genesis resource. It has lifeforce nursing properties and also moisturizes the body.”
With a complicated expression, Zhou Qing continued, “This item is enormously beneficial to you. Your body is too weak and these Green Jade Lotus Seeds will be able to help you stop the loss of life energy.”
These Green Jade Lotus Seeds were very rare and an uncommon sight even in their Great Zhou royal treasury.
Qin Yu hurriedly shook her head upon hearing this. “Yaoyao, a bottle of Jadeite Brew is not worth so much.”
Yaoyao merely pursed her lips and smiled before carrying Tuntun and leisurely walking away, leaving three wide-eyed people at the table.
Zhou Yuan scratched his head and said, “Accept it mother, we will find an opportunity to repay big sister Yaoyao in future.”
He was rather grateful towards this act of Yaoyao’s. After all, he knew that the reason why Qin Yu’s body was so weak was completely because of him.
Qin Yu exchanged a look with Zhou Qing, only to see a nod from the latter. She became a little more fond of the girl.
Zhou Yuan smiled before lifting the bowl of Nine Beast Soup and sending it straight towards his mouth. ‘Gulp gulp’. His throat continuously swallowed as he drained the entire bowl.
Having finished the Nine Beast Soup, he lifted the bowl of Mysterious Crystal Rice and swallowed each mouthful after two to three rounds of chewing.
“Delicious!” Praised Zhou Yuan. This Mysterious Crystal Rice was full, soft and moist enough. Every grain was very savory.
After several minutes, Zhou Yuan put down the bowl and let out a drawn out breath. The breath of air floated in front of him like white fog as he face flushed red. His body felt like a stove, a burning sensation circulating all over within it.
As he felt the burning sensation in his body, Zhou Yuan licked his lips while his eyes flooded with excitement. He was finally going to formally begin his training!