When Li Yundong was still puzzling over the kinds of schemes that Feng Na might have up her sleeves, something caught his eye: a familiar figure entering the media room.
He whipped his head to the side and glanced at the entrance.
Sure enough, Ruan Hongling was marching into the room confidently. Trailing behind her like a lovesick puppy was none other than Yan Hua.
Li Yundong knew Ruan Hongling had noticed him too when her movements suddenly stilled. She turned around and looked right at him. Before Li Yundong could turn away though, Ruan Hongling was stalking over towards them.
"Hey, wait up! Hongling!" Yan Hua said, hurrying to keep up with Ruan Hongling's quick strides.
Even from afar, Li Yundong could detect the look of hostility in Ruan Hongling's eyes whenever her eyes darted towards Cheng Cheng and Feng Na.
The first thing Ruan Hongling did when she was reached them was grab Li Yundong's arm and then pull him aside.
"What are you doing here?" Ruan Hongling whispered harshly.
"I could ask you the same thing," Li Yundong fired back. "What are you doing here?" His eyes darted sideways towards Yan Hua, who, unsurprisingly, was glaring daggers at him. Li Yundong smirked. "Oh, I see… Your boyfriend over there is in the running for the student council president, and you're here to cheer him on."
"Shut up," Ruan Hongling hissed. "He is not my... Ugh!" Ruan Hongling took a deep breath. "Your divine punishment is near, you idiot. You should be focusing your energy on strengthening your Vital Orb, not wasting your time participating in this..." A look of contempt spread across Ruan Hongling's features. "This pointless nonsense." She glared at him. "Do you know how much Elder Sister Zi Yuan has done for you? All her efforts will go to waste if you die!"
"Are you kidding me? This is her idea! She's the one who encouraged me to come back to school in the first place!" Li Yundong fired back. Indeed, he'd rather stay away from this stupid place if he had a choice. "If you have any problems with that, then take it up with her."
"You..." Ruan Hongling growled.
They were interrupted by Yan Hua's snide voice.
"You're not gonna tell me you're one of the candidates, are you?"
Li Yundong looked to his left and saw Yan Hua sauntering up them. The guy had probably sensed the hostility between him and Ruan Hongling and had decided to come over to defend Ruan Hongling's honor.
Looking past Yan Hua, Li Yundong noticed Feng Na and Cheng Cheng walking over as well. Seconds later, the three of them joined him and Ruan Hongling at the corner of the room. He ignored Yan Hua's glare and smiled at Feng Na instead.
"Meet your competition," he said, jerking his thumb towards Yan Hua.
Feng Na gave Yan Hua a ladylike smile. She looked like an elegant diplomat instead of some cheeky girl with a penchant for pulling pranks.
"Hello," she said politely.
"Hello." Yan Hua gave Feng Na a polite nod. "You're Feng Na, right? It's a pleasure. I'm looking forward to your guidance."
Feng Na's brows drew together slightly. The frown was subtle and brief, but Li Yundong still noticed it. Clearly, Feng Na didn't like the guy very much. Join the club, then.
Feng Na was still smiling at the guy though.
"You flatter me," Feng Na said before she shared a quick glance with Cheng Cheng. "I'm sure y'all have heard of that analogy about waves. The new currents always drive the old currents onto the shore because they have the strength to do so. What's often left unsaid, however, is that the old currents usually end up dead when they crash onto the shore." Feng Na shrugged. That little shoulder movement gave an impression of nonchalance. "The fact is that the younger generation usually wins." Feng Na smirked at Yan Hua. "Just make sure you show some mercy, okay? Don't let an old current like me die too horribly."
Yan Hua chuckled in delight. Shrouded in his laughter, though, was a hint of smugness and glee.
Yan Hua stopped laughing. Li Yundong noticed that Yan Hua's eyes were now on him, those eyes that were filled with contempt and condescension.
"Wise words indeed, Senior Feng Na. Perhaps that is why a certain someone has decided not to nominate himself for the position," Yan Hua jeered, then let out a dramatic sigh. "There goes my chance to show him who's boss."
Ruan Hongling let out a laugh, which quickly turned into a cough.
Li Yundong shot Ruan Hongling an amused glance. The look on her face clearly implied that she found Yan Hua's pointed remark utterly laughable. When their eyes met, Li Yundong could see a glint of amusement in them.
Li Yundong couldn't resist a smirk.
Yan Hua, on the other hand, seemed encouraged by Ruan Hongling's reaction. The idiot had probably misconstrued Ruan Hongling's laughter as her way of agreeing with his statement.
"Senior Feng Na," Yan Hua said, exuding an air of haughtiness now. "How did your speech preparation go?"
Feng Na smiled graciously.
"I didn't prepare much, to be honest." Feng Na paused to look at Yan Hua. "I'm sure yours has gone well."
"Just normal, I guess," Yan Hua said.
Li Yundong turned away to hide his eye roll.
"Ooh!" Feng Na suddenly turned towards the entrance. "Looks like the teachers and the members of the university council have arrived." She glanced at Yan Hua. "Come on, junior. We have to go get ready."
"Where are they sitting?" Li Yundong asked Cheng Cheng after Feng Na and Yan Hua had walked away from the group.
"The first row, together with the teachers," Cheng Cheng answered. "That's where all the candidates will sit."
Li Yundong nodded. It made sense. The candidates had to walk onto the stage to deliver their speeches anyway, so it made sense to seat them in the first row since it was closest to the stage.
"And what about us? We can sit anywhere we like, right?"
"Yeah." Cheng Cheng smiled at him. "Come on. This way."
Cheng Cheng led Li Yundong and Ruan Hongling to the last row.
"How's this thing gonna work, by the way?" Li Yundong asked Cheng Cheng once they had taken their seats.
"The students will vote. But the university council can veto the results of the poll if they don't like it. But the students' votes still count, of course."
After a while, the MC walked onto the stage to start the event.
Some time during the speech of first candidate, Li Yundong leaned towards Ruan Hongling.
"Hey, be straight with me," he whispered. "Why are you really here? Did Zi Yuan send you here to babysit me?"
Ruan Hongling laughed. "Oh, get over yourself."
Li Yundong leaned away in surprise. "Wait, so you're not here to observe my progress?"
"This is part of my training," Ruan Hongling whispered back, then gave him a pointed look. "I have to gain some experience in handling worldly affairs. It's a requirement for all Cultivators in the Linggong Sect. We have to learn how to engage and interact with mortals."
The second candidate was a short, plump-looking guy. The guy's speech was okay, but it was a little bit too... slobbery for Li Yundong's tastes. Li Yundong thought he saw a few teachers in the first row raising their notepads to shield their faces from the guy's saliva.
As the event dragged on, Li Yundong did a quick headcount of the number of candidates seated in the first row.
There were eight of them in total.
So far, the first few candidates had received mixed responses from the students. Some were well-received, while others were booed the moment they got onto the stage.
When it was Yan Hua's turn, the boos and hisses stopped, and Li Yundong could understand why—the guy really knew how to hold the stage.
Yan Hua's confidence could be seen in his eyes, which began sweeping through the audience the moment he took his place at the podium.
The media room plunged into a deafening silence.
From the last row, Li Yundong could see that all eyes were now trained on the podium. Anticipation filled the silent void left behind by the audience's chatter. Everyone was eager to hear what Yan Hua had to say. And admittedly, Li Yundong was the same.
After his unpleasant encounter with Yan Hua at the canteen, Li Yundong had looked Yan Hua up from the university's Special Admissions portal. While going through Yan Hua's dossier, Li Yundong learned that Yan Hua came from a well-off family of scholars. Both his parents were highly educated, and he himself was knowledgeable beyond his age.
Yan Hua adjusted the microphone.
Seconds later, Yan Hua's speech began.
Li Yundong leaned back in his chair and listened to Yan Hua's every word. The guy was an exceptional speaker, Li Yundong had to give him that. His overwhelming confidence aside, there was a certain eloquence in his manner of speech, not to mention the charisma that comes with being knowledgeable. The guy could very well be a professional public speaker. His statements flowed smoothly and naturally without any awkward pauses in between. That alone was an impressive feat because Li Yundong was pretty sure that Yan Hua wasn't reading out his lines from a script—Yan Hua's eyes had never left the audience since he took the stage.
But of course, it wasn't just Yan Hua's public speaking skills that Li Yundong found impressive. The content of his speech was stellar as well: every claim he made was backed up by statistics; he had even thrown a few English jargons and terms around like they were nothing.
Yan Hua's speech lasted ten whole minutes, during which the entire hall was silent except for Yan Hua's magnetic voice. The moment he was done, the entire media room exploded in a huge round of applause.
Several teachers even gave the guy a standing ovation.
As expected from the top student of the city, Li Yundong thought as he begun to clap as well.
Someone elbowed his ribs.
He turned and saw Cheng Cheng glaring at him.
"Seriously? You're supporting the enemy?" Cheng Cheng said in a tone of annoyance. "Have you forgotten how he mocked you just now?"
"I'm just giving credit where credit is due," Li Yundong said with a shrug. "Look. Don't get me wrong, okay? I still hate his guts. I find him arrogant and disrespectful. But I'm also open to the truth." Li Yundong tilted his head towards the stage. "Can't deny the fact that he's a great speaker."
Cheng Cheng rolled her eyes. "That douche is most likely to win if Nana loses." Cheng Cheng glared at him. "You sure you can handle that? Him being the student council president?"
"Personally, I'm rooting for Feng Na." Li Yundong smiled. "Then again, I don't really care much. If he wins, then he wins. It doesn't really bother me that much."
Granted, Yan Hua would be a pain in the ass if he won, but Li Yundong could handle him.
"Are you an idiot?" Cheng Cheng snapped. "He's gonna pick on you and make your life difficult if he becomes the student council president!"
Li Yundong laughed out loud. And I can dodge bullets and demolish the whole campus if I wanted to.
"Well, he can try," he said casually, "but it really doesn't bother me."
The applause died down.
"It's Nana's turn," Cheng Cheng mumbled.
When Li Yundong turned his eyes to the stage, Feng Na was striding elegantly towards the podium. She had changed into a pale yellow dress with a green belt wound around her slender waist. She had decided to let her hair down, and with her long hair flowing past her shoulders, she exuded confidence in a simple and easygoing sort of way.
The audience's chatter dwindled. Anticipation coursed through Li Yundong, and he found himself leaning forward in his seat, wondering what sort of speech Feng Na had come up with to top Yan Hua's oratory earlier.