The School of the Martial Market in the South Cloud Commandery selected a total of 37 talented students. Six of them died after the calamity, leaving only 31.
To He Yunlou, this was already the best outcome despite the heavy loss.
What human wouldn't run into accidents?
And thus, the Silver Moon Ship sailed once again.
Xue Yingrou was an elegant girl with snow-white skin, long golden hair, and a slim figure. She stood right in front of Zhang Ruochen, less than two meters away.
He could clearly smell the light floral fragrance coming from her.
Her voice was soft and gentle, and somewhat shy as she said, "Thank you for saving my life. May I have your name?"
He looked at her and replied, "Zhang Ruochen."
She instantly memorized this name. With a soft, beautiful laugh, she said, "I'm Xue Yingrou. Your sword technique is incredible and you must've already reached the Peak of Sword Following the Heart. Will you show me some guidance?"
"Miss Xue, I think you should first heal your injuries. It's not too late to discuss Martial Arts after." He said.
Xue Yingrou was all smiles. She giggled and said, "I'll consider that as you agreeing! Once I'm completely recovered, you must give me some guidance. You can't go back on your word."
When a beauty like Xue Yingrou smiled, she looked truly beautiful. It was as if she was an immortal who had descended to earth to tug at men's heartstrings.
After she took her leave, Duanmu Xingling jumped off the railing of the mast and landed with a swoosh behind Zhang Ruochen. She smiled at him. "Zhang Ruochen, your charisma is powerful indeed. You've just arrived at the holy soil of the Eastern Region and there's already a girl who admires you so much. You can't be already mesmerized by her, right?"
"How is that possible?" Zhang Ruochen smiled.
Duanmu Xingling crossed her arms with a look of disbelief. Her eyes shined with mischief and she mimicked Xue Yingrou's voice as she said, "'Once I'm completely recovered, you must give me some guidance. You can't go back on your word.' I really want to slap her when I heard her voice."
Zhang Ruochen smiled helplessly. "Do you think I'm one of those people who can't resist temptation?"
"Who knows for sure? Men! Keeping an eye on the pot while eating what's in your bowl! You're never satisfied. Since Sister Chen isn't here, I naturally have to keep an eye on you in her place. A vixen like her should know her place. Otherwise, I'll have her die in a very nasty way."
Duanmu Xingling pushed out her chest proudly and raised her chin, disdain in her eyes. "Besides, I think she's pretentious and snobbish. If you told her that you're a warrior from an isolated inferior commandery in the Omen Ridge, it'd be a wonder if she still pays you any attention."
Zhang Ruochen stared at her proud expression and saw that she was worried Xue Yingrou would charm him and lead him into a trap.
In reality, it was normal. Warriors from the holy soil of the Eastern Region looked down on warriors from small places like the Omen Ridge. In their eyes, the Omen Ridge was an uncivilized land of savages, a remote and desolate place.
Zhang Ruochen could tell that Xue Yingrou had approached him partially because he had saved her in her most dangerous moment and partially because she had seen that he was God's favored son with a powerful background.
If she knew that Zhang Ruochen was a warrior hailing from a remote and desolate place like the Omen Ridge, she would probably turn her nose up at him and wouldn't even spare him a glance.
Of course, Zhang Ruochen didn't care at all what she thought.
He smiled. "Relax! Senior sister apprentice Duanmu. Do you think I'm someone so easily charmed by beauty? In my eyes, you're much prettier."
"At least you have some outsight."
Secretly, she was happy and bubbling with confidence. How could Xue Yingrou compare with her? If Xue Yingrou saw her true appearance, would that not shock her?
Of course, she didn't show any joy on her face and stared at Zhang Ruochen coldly instead. "You smooth-talking, flattering wastrel! You learned all the bad things from Chang Qiqi!"
She instantly jumped and escaped after speaking, terrified that Zhang Ruochen would see her blushing.
Zhang Ruochen was stunned. Had he not just praised her? How was he a flattering wastrel all of a sudden?
Eight genius students were gathered in a cabin with dim lighting.
"Eldest brother, I saw senior sister apprentice Xue find that guy earlier. They were talking and laughing."
A student stood in front of Zi Hansha, his voice shaking with anger. His fists were tightly curled and his face was dark.
Another student sneered. "How hateful! He dares to think about stealing eldest brother's woman. He doesn't want to live, does he?"
"Senior sister apprentice Xue is the most beautiful woman in our South Cloud Commandery. We can't allow him to steal her. Eldest brother, we all know that you and senior sister apprentice Xue make perfect couple, a match made in heaven."
Most of the students there were secretly in love with Xue Yingrou. Naturally, they couldn't stand seeing her interacting with Zhang Ruochen.
However, they knew that they weren't a match for Zhang Ruochen. Thus, they tried to goad Zi Hansha.
Only Zi Hansha had the power to teach Zhang Ruochen a lesson.
Zi Hansha had always been conceited and contemptuous. In the South Cloud commandery, he had defeated everyone in his generation. None of them was his match. Even if Zhang Ruochen had demonstrated great power before, he still had the confidence that the former would lose.
Furthermore, Zhang Ruochen had stolen his limelight earlier. He was already not too happy about that.
Now, Zhang Ruochen dared to make a move on Xue Yingrou. That completely rubbed him the wrong way. As per the genius students' words, he had long considered Xue Yingrou his future woman.
Whoever dared to try to get a share would have to die.
Zi Hansha exercised the joints of his five fingers and coldness flashed in his eyes. "Don't say such nonsense. Junior sister apprentice Xue and I are just apprentice-siblings. Even if I want to, I can't control who she interacts with."
The students became anxious, thinking that he wouldn't interfere in this matter.
Xi Hansha then continued, changing the topic, "But as her elder brother, I have to test whether Zhang Ruochen is worthy of her."
"So you'll take care of that guy? Hehe!"
"We'll just exchange views about Martial Arts," Zi Hansha said.
A chain of laughter immediately erupted in the ship's cabin.
Zhang Ruochen immediately took out the Time and Space Spinel after returning to his cabin. He entered the internal space of the spinel and continued to refine the Dragon Pearl.
Right now, there were already 696 drops of Vital Essence in his Qi Sea.
If he ran the Scripture of Emperor Ming's Empyrean and used his 36 Meridians to refine the Dragon Pearl with all his power, he could probably add 80 drops of Vital Essence every day.
Even at his cultivation rate, it would still waste a lot of time to get to 10,000 drops of Vital Essence.
He could only break into the Advanced Stage of the Heaven Realm after producing 10,000 drops of Vital Essence.
After seven days, the number of drops of Vital Essence in his Qi Sea reached 1,207 drops. He had finally completely consolidated the Mid Stage of the Heaven Realm.
Aboard the Silver Moon Ship, Zhang Ruochen couldn't always seclude himself for refining. Thus he came out of the space in the spinel after seven days and visited Concubine Lin.
From the Omen Ridge all the way to the ship, it had been Kong Xuan who had been looking after her.
Kong Xuan had done everything she could. As if she had become Concubine Lin's handmaid, she looked after her in every possible way.
Zhang Ruochen only left after meeting Concubine Lin and giving Kong Xuan some tips concerning her practice.
He barely took a few steps before he saw Xue Yingrou.
Their eyes met and a faint smile appeared on both their faces.
Xue Yingrou's mood was much better than a few days ago as her injuries had completely healed. Her eyes were incomparably bright, her skin was clear, and even her temperament seemed more elegant.
Standing on the deck against a backdrop of a cloud sea and blue sky, she looked just like the scroll of an immortal.
"Elder brother Zhang, my injuries have completely recovered. You can now teach me some sword techniques, right?" Xue Yingrou's lashes were long and her red lips were sparkling. Even her voice was like a sound of nature.
Zhang Ruochen smiled.
He was about to reply when the sound of footsteps came from behind him.
A group of genius students showed up, with Zi Hansha at the forefront. Holding a long purple sword, he smiled and said, "What a coincidence! I've also long admired Brother Zhang's sword technique. Can you first show me some guidance?"
Zhang Ruochen turned around and saw 12 silver-robed genius students walking over to them. The one leading the rest was the School of the Martial Market's eldest brother of the South Cloud Commandery, Zi Hansha.
He was indeed a prodigy. He was tall with sword-like eyebrows and eagle-like eyes. He commanded a scary aura as he walked up to Zhang Ruochen.
Given Zhang Ruochen's current Spiritual Power, he could easily tell Zi Hansha's power even if he hadn't opened his Skyeye.
Zi Hansha's cultivation had reached the Dawn State of the Heaven Realm, two entire realms above his own.
Furthermore, he must be highly gifted to give off that kind of aura. It was stronger than some of the warriors at the Completion of Heaven Realm.
"I'm Zi Hansha, the eldest brother of the School of the Martial Market of the South Cloud Commandery."
Zi Hansha introduced himself to Zhang Ruochen, stopping ten meters away.
So he was the eldest brother. No wonder his cultivation was so strong.
Whether it was the School of the Martial Market or Suzerains, rankings were typically based on power instead of age.
Only the most powerful had the right to be called eldest brother.
Of course, there were exceptions.
If the eldest brother was indeed much older and had an excellent moral character, everyone will still respectfully refer to him as such.
Si Xingkong was an example of this.
Zhang Ruochen glanced at Zi Hansha. "I'm Zhang Ruochen. Greetings to elder brother Zi. You must be joking earlier! With your Dawn State of the Heaven Realm cultivation, how can I show you any guidance?"
Zi Hansha shook his hand. "There's no need to be humble. I had already seen you demonstrate many marvelous sword techniques in your duel with Flaming Red Crow and realized I'm far inferior. I've long wanted to ask for some advice from you."
Of course, deep inside, he didn't really think that he was inferior to Zhang Ruochen.
The higher he lifted Zhang Ruochen up, the harder the latter would fall in their battle later. Wasn't that right?
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