17 Chapter Seventeen
(Correlated with the manhua's chapter 17)
"Uhh, I…" The moment he felt his teacher's touch, even though it was just a single finger, Mo Fan's mind began going blank before he remembered Old Man Ying, panicked, and managed to collect himself a bit.
*"That's right, get your shit together, me! Now that I know the pendant is so valuable the fact that Ms. Tang Yue knows about it…could be very bad. She could be acting like this because she wants to take it from me! I can't let Old Man Ying's memento end up in someone else's hands!"*
Not embarrassed anymore, but still not thinking straight, Mo Fan looked down at the finger holding up his chin before looking up to stare directly into Ms. Tang Yue's eyes. Then, he readied himself for combat, summoning both star clusters within his soul realm and preparing his mind to cast spells as quickly as possible. There being less than a meter between them combined with the speed of his lightning, he could likely wound a much stronger, unprepared mage like Ms. Tang Yue, though at the cost of taking some of the damage due to the close proximity.
To Mo Fan's surprise, Ms. Tang Yue immediately noticed his strangely quick conversion from embarrassed to serious and slowly dropped her hand, returning to a stance of crossed arms.
"I can see how you misinterpreted that. Sorry." She said, seemingly genuinely apologetic.
Suddenly, Mo Fan understood what he'd prepared to do, a realization which scared him. He'd readied himself to kill his teacher on the basis that she wanted an item he had, an item which contained immense sentimental value, but wasn't absolutely necessary. Normally, Mo Fan would think of protecting it at all costs, but…what had he approached Ms. Tang Yue for?
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*"That's right—the stardust accelerator broke and I asked her for help, yet here I am, willing to attempt to kill her if it means protecting my treasure. Maybe the pendant is the price I pay for receiving her assistance and not getting expelled…"*
A tremendous amount of guilt befell Mo Fan, contorting his expression to look as though he were in pain, causing Ms. Tang Yue to worry in turn. His feelings were experiencing one hell of a rollercoaster in response to his mental conflictions.
"Mo Fan, don't worry, I'm not trying to take your necklace from you. In fact, even if I were to take it, I don't think I'd be able to use it." Ms. Tang Yue smiled wryly, seemingly apologizing for outing his thoughts. "I could sense that your treasure is connected to you by a very powerful bond. As for the details…I have no clue."
She allowed Mo Fan a little while to relax, watching as he switched back from deadly serious to embarrassed, however, for a different reason that time. Once he steadied his mind and calmed his nerves, Ms. Tang Yue continued.
"Also, as far as I can tell, your treasure will be as worthless as a lump of copper without soul essence to feed on." She paused to watch Mo Fan's cute reaction when he learned that his treasure wasn't yet helping him. "You should have learned this in class, but I'll recap. Immediately after a monster dies, its soul will hover near its body for a short while and emit a special light. That, then, is soul essence." Ms. Tang Yue pointed at the plastic baggie of scraps Mo Fan still held on to. "Stardust accelerators are very complicated and require many things to build and soul essence is a major part of the manufacturing process. Your growth-type treasure stole what it could from the school's stardust accelerator and became more efficient at its job. As for how well it works at the moment or how much soul essence is required to bring it to spirit-grade, I can't say for sure."
Processing the spectacular news, Mo Fan felt the urge to bounce around in joy and hug the teacher in thanks but managed to control himself. Yet, the excitement in his eyes was crystal clear Ms. Tang Yue.
"Don't get your hopes up too much." Her voice held a little bit of the sternness from before. "Killing monsters is, by no means, easy. Doing so may strengthen your treasure, but don't throw your life away in greed."
Mo Fan's mood was immediately dampened, but because he managed to predict her next words, bits of the exhilaration stayed.
"You mean, not until I get stronger." No trace of his earlier confusion could be found in his voice. Knowing that, as long as he had the pendant, killing monsters would just make him stronger, things like his upcoming fight with a member of the Mu family didn't concern him nearly as much. After all, upgrading the Heaven-sent pendant was a long-term goal. Even he knew that spirit-grade was not the limit to magic equipment.
"Yes. Not until you get stronger." Ms. Tang Yue turned and walked to the edge of the rooftop to lean on the guard rail. "And there will be two months of practical training in the wild nearing the school year's end. That will be a majorly important opportunity for you to train."
"I also trust that you're aware of the attempt to sabotage your exam a little while back. Be careful, don't let anyone know of the treasure." To Mo Fan's confusion and fright, Ms. Tang Yue hopped over the roof's guard rail, standing on the thin slice of concrete between the rail and the edge. "Lastly, I'll take care of the stardust accelerator issue." She reached forward and grabbed the plastic bag from Mo Fan's hand before jumping backwards, falling off the roof.
Eyes wide in surprise, Mo Fan resisted the urge to scream, reminding himself that Ms. Tang Yue was a powerful magician, then silently thanked her for her aid.
*"It turns out that going to her for help was the right choice. Thank you very much, Ms. Tang Yue."*
Half a year later, Mo Fan comfortably sat beside Xiao Hou, his eyes lazily watching the scenery flash by from the bus window to his right. The setting was one which should have excited him more, but he'd already spent enough time jumping around in anticipation for that day and accomplished the feat of relaxing.
"Once again, students, the location for your two months of practical training will be the Xuefeng Mountains Military Post. Mr. Xue and I would like to wish you all the best, and hope that you will pass this practical training with flying colors!"
"And I'll reiterate that there are monsters in the wilderness beyond this post! Those who are unable to hold their own against the monsters are prohibited from leaving the safe zone."
"""Yes ma'am and sir!"""
Since the bus was nearing its destination, Ms. Tang Yue and Mr. Xue repeated the information they gave before the ride began.
At that same moment…
Mo Fan was shaken out of his relaxed state when he felt a kind of tugging feeling from his soul realm, entering it to investigate.
*"The stars under my control are agitated! Is this… I hope this is the sign of advancing to the second level that we briefly talked about in class!"*
Although Mo Fan's class touched on the subject of advancing to the second level of the beginner stage, they did not learn much of it. The students of his class were all in the first level, but even by a normal genius' standard, they were not yet nearing level two and still had quite a bit of time before they needed to worry about advancing…except for Mo Fan.
"Damn! This view is spectacular!"
"This forest is so beautiful and brimming with life. I wouldn't be able to tell that it was rife with monsters if I hadn't been told…"
Xiao Hou and Mo Fan expressed their awe upon exiting their bus and looking out over the sea of trees below them. The sight easily took their breath away with how it contrasted so much with the cityscape they were so used to. In their hearts, they promised themselves that they'd someday live near such a scene of beauty as the forested mountains.
"Heh, what, are you scared?" From behind Mo Fan and Xiao Hou approached Mu Bai and Zhou Kun San, seemingly interpreting Mo Fan's state of admiration of nature for weakness and fear of the monsters which lurked in the forest's shadow.
Amused, Mo Fan turned around to look Mu Bai in the eye. "Oh? You dare to insult the Heavens above you? It seems you still haven't learned to hold your tongue when in the presence of a superior mage."
The fact that Mo Fan didn't give a rat's ass about Mu Bai couldn't be stated enough. He felt nothing from Mu Bai's insults and only saw in him an opportunity for target practice.
Before Mu Bai could finish, he, Xiao Hou, Mo Fan, and Zhou Kun San suddenly felt the casting of a spell and heat approaching their position. The four of them immediately scattered, jumping in different directions but not managing to escape all the fireball's power as they felt a weak shockwave strike them, dizzying them.