It was 9:30AM by the time Li Yundong arrived at Tiannan University the next morning, which was totally unacceptable, since he had left New Hongsheng District as early as six frigging thirty. The reason for his tardiness was none other than traffic congestion.
Tiannan City's traffic at its finest, truly.
"I wonder when I can start flying to campus," Li Yundong mumbled as he strode past the gates. "That will spare me from having to endure the long hours spent sitting inside a slow-moving cab."
Li Yundong stopped short and turned around. Feng Na was approaching him from the curb just outside the gates.
His name rang out once again. Feng Na's crisp and clear voice drew the attention of pretty much all the students in his vicinity. A few dudes were openly staring at him, but he was pretty much used to this kind of thing by now.
"Good morning, Miss Future Prez," Li Yundong greeted Feng Na when she finally caught up to him. "So. What are your orders for me this morning?" He smiled. "I assume that's what this is about? You're easing into your role as the new student council president?"
Feng Na chuckled. "Stop joking around, geez. Nothing is set in stone yet. I might not even win." Suddenly, she stopped laughing and fidgeted a little. "Actually, I'm giving a speech tomorrow…"
"What, you mean like a campaign speech?"
Feng Na nodded. "Will you be there to show your support?"
Li Yundong chuckled. "Sure. When and where?"
Feng Na beamed at him. "Tomorrow night at seven thirty. And the venue is the…" Feng Na cringed and cleared her throat. "The media room."
Li Yundong did a double take. "You mean… The one where that disastrous movie night took place?"
Feng Na sighed and nodded weakly.
"Damn… Of all the places…"
Feng Na snorted. "It's not like I had a choice. The members of the student council picked that place."
They walked side by side towards the academic building.
"Where's Cheng Cheng, by the way?" Li Yundong asked once they left the campus' front yard. "Isn't she your plucky sidekick? You guys are usually joined at the hips."
Feng Na released a heavy sigh. "Ugh… Don't even start."
"What? Why? Did you guys have a fight?"
"Nah. I'm just feeling a little sad that's all. She and I are in our fourth year now. We have to start worrying about job prospects soon. You know, Cheng Cheng spent her entire summer holidays doing an internship at a company. Well, she's still with the company now…" There was a slight pause. "The workload is a bit heavy, so she's decided to skip a few classes this semester to deal with it."
"There's a good chance they might hire her," Feng Na remarked. "I guess that's why she's putting so much time and effort on her internship job."
"That's great news," Li Yundong said. "I hope she gets in."
"I hope so too," Feng Na said, then sighed. "Cheng Cheng's family isn't well off, so this is a great opportunity for her."
They walked in silence for a while.
"What about you?" Li Yundong asked. "What are your plans after you graduate?"
"Plans?" Feng Na chuckled sadly. "If only things were that easy."
"No plans, then?"
"Nothing solid at the moment," she said, then sighed. "Ugh. It's so hard to land a good job these days… Especially one that you enjoy doing. Well, what I really want is to work at a TV station, but it's hard to get in without proper connections…"
Li Yundong chewed over Feng Na's words for a while. If he hadn't chosen the path of Cultivation, he would be in the exact same position as Feng Na and Cheng Cheng next year, driving himself nuts over career prospects.
Then again, even Cultivators need a way to earn a living as well…
"And you?" Feng Na's voice ended his musings. "What are the grand future plans for the Legendary Hero of Tiannan University?"
To become a great Cultivator. Those were the first words that sprang into his mind. Not that he could tell Feng Na that.
"I've got no plans at the moment," he said with a shrug. "What can I say? I'm just an average guy with no real goals and aspirations."
"Tsk!" Feng Na poked his arm with her finger. "What's with that nonsense?"
Li Yundong answered with another noncommittal shrug.
Feng Na laughed. "You're just being modest."
"That wasn't modesty, senior." Li Yundong smiled wryly. "Just good old honesty."
Feng Na stopped walking and eyed him skeptically.
Li Yundong chuckled. "No. Really. I've got nothing figured out yet, I swear. I have no idea what I wanna do after graduation."
Cultivation and Su Chan were the only things on his mind right now. Not to mention the looming threat of his divine punishment.
The small garden beside the academic building came into view. A sense of nostalgia washed over him, and he sighed. "Time really flies, huh?"
"Yeah…" Feng Na said wistfully.
"An entire semester went past in just a blink of an eye," Li Yundong said. "Even I am approaching my fourth year now."
"Yeah. That's why I'm trying hard to be more active in my final year," Feng Na said, then shrugged. "More bullet points for my resume."
"I don't think it will be a problem for you, Feng Na." Li Yundong grinned at her. "With your talents and qualifications, I'm sure you'll become Tiannan City's media queen in no time."
Feng Na's smile right then was full of hope. "You really mean that?"
Li Yundong nodded. "Every word."
"Thanks, pal," she said. "That really means a lot."
They entered the academic building in silence.
"Hey, where are you going? Aren't the lecture halls this way?" Feng Na pointed her finger to her left. "Don't you have classes?"
Li Yundong patted his backpack a few times, his hand brushing against the Fan of Seven Treasures as he did.
"I'm heading to the library to return a few books," he said.
Feng Na was too busy staring the Fan of Seven Treasures to reply.
Li Yundong couldn't resist sneaking a glance just to make sure that the dark cloth he'd used to wrap the fan was still in place. At the same time, he was hoping to dear God that the fan wouldn't suddenly float into the air and start wreaking havoc inside the academic building. The last thing he wanted was for Director Qian to get on his case again.
"I've been wondering…" Feng Na glanced at him. "What on earth is this thing that you've been carrying around for the past few days?"
A magical object that could probably bring the whole building down in seconds.
"Well? What is it?" Feng Na ran her finger along the dark cloth. "It feels really solid. And isn't it kind of bulky to carry around on campus?"
Li Yundong gave her a tight smile. "It's something very important to me. So I'd like to keep it close with me at all times."
Feng Na gave him a funny look. Great. Now she might start thinking that he had some kind of weird fetish.
Okay! Time to go…
"See you around, Senior Feng Na."
He gave Feng Na a parting wave, then made his way towards the back entrance of the academic building. The library was on another block opposite the academic building, just across the campus stadium.
"Li Yundong!" Feng Na's voice made him stop.
He turned his head around. "Yeah?"
Feng Na's intense stare unnerved him a little, but he didn't let his discomfort show.
"You're gonna be a great person one day!"
Li Yundong stared at her for a moment, then laughed. "Why'd you say that? It's so out of the blue."
Feng Na waved him off and then shrugged. "No reason. The thought just came to me."
"So you decided to, what, yell it across the corridor?"
Feng Na placed her hands behind her back. "I think a guy like you has a bright future. Maybe… Maybe you'll become the CEO of some large company or something."
Li Yundong laughed out loud. "Now I know you're just messing with me. Come on. I'm practically half-broke!"
Feng Na chuckled. "No. I'm not just messing with you. I meant every word. And who knows…" A teasing glint formed in her eyes. "Cheng Cheng and I might ask you for job positions in the future. Please don't turn us away when that happens."
"Sure thing." Li Yundong smirked. "Who am I to say no to free labor?"
Feng Na giggled. "Well. I have to go to class now. See ya!" She waved at him. "Oh! And don't forget to come support me when I give my speech!"
Li Yundong waved back at her. "I'll be there."
He left the academic after that.
Apparently, some kind of military drill was taking place at the stadium. Well, that certainly brought back memories. The drill was compulsory for every freshmen. He remembered going through the whole grueling thing during his first year.
Young students in green military uniforms swarmed the field. A large group of them were goose-stepping across the field while a commander yelled orders at them. Several students stood around a bunch of mats, watching a hand-to-hand combat demonstration given to them by two instructors.
Li Yundong was halfway across the field when the commander yelled a command to stop the foot drill. The cadets clicked their feet together and turned out to face the commander.
The cadets stood at attention, their uniforms drenched in sweat.
Li Yundong hurried past them, hoping that none of the cadets recognized him.
"Pst, pst! Isn't that the guy they were talking about on the forum?"
"Yo… I think you're right bro. It's that legend, Li Yundong! The Hero of Tiannan University!"
"Dude… What do you reckon he's carrying behind his back, eh?"
"That black thing sticking out of his bag, you mean?"
"Beats me, bro. But it sure looks heavy. Maybe it's—"
Li Yundong slowed to a stop and turned around. Two of the cadets were now down on the ground doing push-ups while the commander glared down at them. The rest of the cadets were struggling not to laugh.
And that was when he saw it.
One of the cadets, a tall and burly guy, was looking right at him. Li Yundong had never seen the guy before in his life, but the guy was staring at him as though he knew him.
Wariness crept into Li Yundong's chest. He ignored the guy and averted his gaze. After that, he crossed the rest of the stadium quickly and headed straight into the library, where he returned his books and borrowed a several new books.
He paused at the library's entrance on his way out. Today's class wasn't compulsory, so it was okay for him to skip. He turned around and walked back into the library.
Then, he found an unoccupied reading chair and sat down, making sure to keep the Fan of Seven Treasures out of sight just in case it suddenly started acting weird. After that, he pulled out a book and placed it on his lap.
Admittedly, he could've picked a quieter spot. Most of the students in the area were quietly minding their own business except for two students—a man and a woman—who were whispering harshly at each other.
A lovers' quarrel, probably…
Li Yundong ignored them and went back to his book.
About ten minutes into his reading, Li Yundong was interrupted by some kind of ruckus. He kept his eyes on the book and tried his best to ignore the noise. In hindsight, he should've just gone home.
There was no mistaking the cause of that loud and crisp sound: someone had just been slapped.
Li Yundong looked up from his book. A woman, the same one who'd been quarreling with her boyfriend earlier, was pounding her fist into a man's chest.
"You bastard!" Clearly, the woman had forgone any pretense of obeying library regulations, since she was practically screaming her head off. "You're breaking up with me? How could you!"
The man was holding onto his left cheek. That woman must have a mean swing because when the man turned—
Wait a minute… Isn't that…
It was that Shenkui guy, the one who got diagnosed with Renal Yin Deficiency the other day.
Li Yundong hadn't seen the guy again ever since Su Chan gave him that diagnosis.
"Y- You slapped me… Y- You actually slapped me…" Shenkui guy sputtered. "Y- You're crazy!"
"Yes!" the woman screamed. "Yes, I'm crazy! I must be crazy to fall for a bastard like you!" The woman raised her fist again. "Screw you, you bastard! I'm going to end your life toda—"
Shenkui guy's body went limp, then crumpled to the floor a second later.