Volume 3 Chapter 7: Shenfeng Institute
The stars sparkled in the flowing night sky.
Under the faint glow of the starlight, a figure exited the inn like a wisp of smoke and, with a few horizontal flashes, disappeared down the end of the street.
This person was Chen Nan. During the day, he had gleaned from others the approximate whereabouts of Shenfeng Institute. Under the nighttime’s cloak of darkness, he sped owards the college.
The City of Crime’s nightlife was not at all mundane. Many places were brightly lit up all night long: casinos rambled on endlessly, the cries and whistles of fireworks…
After traversing across many streets and paths, Shenfeng Institute appeared within Chen Nan’s sights. The college was bigger than he had imagined. It was roughly the size of one fifth of the entire eastern district of the city. The simple gate and blue-green steps exhibited the wear and tear of years of service. There was also an air of dignity and holiness that pervaded the college—the ancient college’s aura.
Countless experts had emerged from here and displayed their brilliance all across the continent. When they recalled their former days of glory, not one of them could forget their origin: Shenfeng Institute.
Chen Nan calmly stood outside of the college’s gate. He really could feel a peculiar aura. An indescribable, complex feeling arose in his heart: admiration, veneration…
“Accumulate the world’s spiritual power; gather the auras of generation upon generation of supreme experts. This is truly the paradise of practitioners. Shenfeng Institute’s reputation is well-deserved. Even standing here for just a moment has greatly moved me.”
Chen Nan sprang up and scaled the tall wall. After a careful inspection and not finding anything suspicious, he lightly fluttered inside. At this time, Shenfeng Institute was silent. Only a few rooms were still lit up. Like a midnight ghost, he went to wander around the college.
As he passed through an enormous practice arena, he found several people still cultivating inside. Magic elements intensely pulsated through the air. One could imagine how extraordinary this magus’ cultivation was. He didn’t dare tread too closely and only observed from a distance. There seemed to be two magi battling.
“En! If I were able to experience real combat with someone every day, how much faster would my cultivation improve?”
Chen Nan suddenly felt compelled to enter Shenfeng Institute, but he calmly shook his head with a chuckle.
“If I want a real battle, coming here and causing a ruckus is enough; why would I need to become a student, hehheh…” He was certain of one thing: he would be doomed to a troublesome life if he were to stay here for any prolonged period of time.
Chen Nan wandered all over the place and found that there were seven, eight more practice arenas as large as the one before. Not only that, but there were people cultivating everywhere.
“The students here are truly diligent!”
Roaming about, he arrived deep inside the college. A scenic lake appeared before him. The water seemed like a mirror, reflecting the heavenly stars. The leisurely sound of a flute lightly drifted from the surface of the lake. A gentle woe was hidden away within the flute’s melody.
Chen Nan carefully scoured the place for quite a while, but was unable to locate the flutist. He was somewhat apprehensive. “Could this person’s cultivation be that much greater than my own?”
He clandestinely detoured around the small lake and continued onward.
A boy and a girl sat on a pair of chairs at the side of a flowerbed. They were quietly chatting. The mood was intimate.
“It’s a pair of ‘mandarin ducks’.” He wanted to detour around them, but their conversation struck his fancy.
He heard the girl say, “This flute music is so sad—somber and gloomy.”
The boy said, “This flute music has been playing here since the college was first established. According to the legend, it’s the ghost of a girl who hasn’t been put to rest yet. Whenever the starlight is especially bright, she would play this echoing music. Another legend says there’s an ancient immortal below the surface residing in an ancient formation, and that flute sound is nothing more but the worldly sound of the formation in use.”
The girl said, “I believe in the first legend more.”
The boy said, “If only it were true. I’m afraid even our dean isn’t sure of it.”
Upon hearing this, Chen Nan felt a burst of unease. He inwardly said, “I didn’t expect this college would actually have such a peculiar place hidden away. If I get the chance, I’ll go carefully explore it.” He didn’t continue eavesdropping on them and went around the two sweethearts.
Continuing forward, a mountainous area appeared before him. Two short mountains stood side by side with a distance of three li in between them. Chen Nan inwardly sighed in praise and astonishment. Shenfeng Institute deserved its reputation as a millennium-old college that even had within it a lake and a mountain range. It was truly tremendous.
When he neared the mountains, he discovered many large caves perforating the sides. It seemed like there were a few monsters hidden within the caves. Upon careful inspection into the caves, he discovered that there were actually dragons stowed within the mountain! There were Land Dragons, Flying Dragons, and Auxiliary Dragons! He imagined that even Monolithic Dragons were in the caves that were several tens of zhang wide that were higher up the mountain. This place was actually the residence of dragons.
Chen Nan was truly amazed. He sighed. “There’s surprisingly this many dragons. It seems like there are at least several tens of dragon riders attending Shenfeng Institute. It’s true—experts are as common as clouds here!”
After peering at the dragons for another moment, he continued his exploration. He carefully passed through the mountains and arrived at the deepest depth of the college. A dense forest appeared behind the short mountains. Inside was nothing but shadows as far as the eye could see. It left a heavy, stifling impression on anyone viewing it from the outside.
Chen Nan hesitated but ultimately decided to enter. The forest was dark and the shrubbery and trees were impenetrable. Additionally, the land was vast. After a long time, he finally made his way through the trees. When he finally left the canopy of the trees, his heart shook. In front of him, surprisingly, was a cemetery. It faintly glowed, and the ghostly qi was dense and horrifying.
He readied himself and circled the cemetery once. He determined that this was actually the resting place of Shenfeng Institute’s generational experts. This was already at the end of Shenfeng Institute, yet a high wall surrounded the graveyard, and a river could be heard in the surroundings.
“How inauspicious to have come to such a ghostly place.” He followed his way back.
Chen Nan had more or less made a trip around the college. As he was leaving, when he was passing through a courtyard, a door suddenly opened. A long-haired girl, as if just woken up, came outside. She abruptly saw Chen Nan and immediately shrieked, “A pervert! Help! There’s a lewd thief here! A rapist!” Screaming like this in the dead of night was particularly noticeable. All the buildings nearby immediately lit up with candlelight.
Chen Nan greatly sighed at his misfortune. He actually trespassed on the female dormitory. He urgently jumped up onto the roof.
“Lecher, stand still! Don’t run! Sisters, quickly come out and catch that pervert~!” In a flash, all the girls’ rooms were brightly lit. The girls—many of whom were not yet fully dressed—rushed out of their rooms. Fragrant perfume blew forth. The female dormitory was quite lively.
“Damn this girl, she couldn’t come our earlier or later, she had to come out just now! I’ll flee flee flee… No matter what, I can’t let the college’s elders catch me. If they do, even if I dive into the Yellow River, I still won’t be clean.”
“Catch the pervert! Don’t let him get away!”
“Where’s the pervert?”
“On top of that roof! Hurry and get him!”
Fortunately, because it was the middle of the night, almost everyone was asleep. Even the practice arena had become void of activity long ago. Chen Nan fled from Shenfeng Institute panicking the whole way. Behind him, the students’ living quarters were chaotic. Even more girls flew out, and many boys who heard the chaos also rushed out. The situation devolved into an army chasing a single intruder.
It could be said that Chen Nan’s untapped potential sprang forth at that moment. His speed could be said to be the fastest ever reached by mankind since the beginning of history. In a state of panic, he arrived at the college’s great wall at long last. With a leap and a drop, he disappeared over the wall and down the street.
Not long after he escaped, ten or so figures arrived outside the college’s gate. They looked in the direction that Chen Nan had fled but did not give chase.
An elderly voice said, “Hmm, this youngster is pretty interesting. I’ll take note when he’s admitted to Shenfeng Institute. His potential is not bad.”
Another aged voice said, “For you to take an interest in someone, that person must be pretty good. But that youth has an even greater potential to be a rapist. Look at the wind generated from his feet as he left without a trace.”
The ten or so elderly voices quietly said a few more words to one another before uniformly returning back inside Shenfeng Institute. When they vanished, a few students from within the college finally arrived.
“Where’s that pervert?”
“We have to catch that pervert!”
“He’s seriously disgusting. How dare this guy have plans on the girls of our college? His lust encompasses the heavens!”
“Let’s split up and search.”
Countless male students volunteered to join an expedition searching the city, while only a few girls joined.
At that time, Chen Nan had already ran back to the inn. When the search conducted by the male population of Shenfeng Institute finally concluded, he was already asleep. If he had known that those elders had detected his trespassing into Shenfeng Institute the moment he had stepped foot inside the gate, then he definitely would not have been able to have a peaceful rest.
The next day, there wasn’t much gossip of Chen Nan’s nighttime exploration of Shenfeng Institute. Instead, there was another shocking piece of news that made its way around the city: a flying tiger was plundering and thieving near the City of Crime. A flying tiger mounted by a great bandit was committing the serious crime of plundering and stealing the belongings of countless people in the City of Freedom.
When Chen Nan heard of this, he was stupefied. In the short span of a single day, the Little Princess had already become a ‘celebrity’ in the City of Freedom.
“This damn girl. She doesn’t resemble a princess at all! Dammit, I have to quickly catch her, or else she’ll cause a lot of problems soon.”
There were many people at the inn talking about the Great Flying Tiger Thief.
“The City of Crime hasn’t had anyone dare be so arrogant like this in ages. The practitioners of Shenfeng Institute will be forced to act.”
“Have you guys heard? Before that guy robs you, he surprisingly announces his name first.”
Hearing this, Chen Nan’s heart trembled.
“That’s right, I hear he’s called Chen Bei.”
When Chen Nan heard this, even the roots of his teeth throbbed in anger. The princess was obviously goading him. He visited many inns and taverns but failed to find any trace of the princess, but he did find many practitioners who had come from all over Tianyuan Continent. He knew almost all of them had come for the ancient god’s severed hand.
“When the little demon first realized the situation was getting tense, she must’ve gone into hiding. That little girl’s vigilance is commendable. It really is hard to find her.”
After a few days, there still wasn’t any news of the Little Princess.
“The little demon didn’t get caught by anyone, right? If this little girl were to suffer an unexpected accident, her father the Emperor of Chu will definitely send everyone to kill me at all costs.” But when he recalled the princess’s sly disposition, he realized there was no reason for his concern.
“Maybe she already robbed enough people and went to enrol in Shenfeng Institute.”
The more Chen Nan thought, the more realistic this notion seemed. He decided to go take a look.
This time, he arrived at Shenfeng Institute candidly. The millennium-old college glowed under the holy brilliance of the morning sun. There were quite a few people walking through the gate, many of whom were young students. Experts were as common as clouds inside the college. He wasn’t afraid of anyone jumping out to challenge him for trespassing—there was simply no one guarding the gate. Chen Nan directly walked inside.
Although he had already gone on a rough tour around campus previously, he only remembered the approximate layout. As for where every courtyard was located, he had absolutely no idea.
After passing through three layers of courtyards, he pulled a young man to the side and asked, “Brother, hello. May I ask where I should go if I wish to enrol in Shenfeng Institute?”
The youth said, “It’s inside the courtyards over there, but registration isn’t open right now. You can come register here at the start of every month, so you’ll have to wait about a week.”
“Oh, many thanks.” Chen Nan was now certain that the princess hadn’t enrolled in Shenfeng Institute yet.
“No need to thank me,” the youth said before turning to leave, but he suddenly stopped in his tracks. A bewildered expression covered his face as he said, “Too beautiful. Could this be the rumoured beauty of the Faculty of Magic?”
Chen Nan followed the youth’s dazed eyes and his heart was immediately stunned. A slender girl with curves, around twenty years old, was leisurely approaching. The girl’s long wavy black hair hung down to her chest. Her jade-like cheeks contained a poignant lustre. She had gorgeous eyes and a straight, refined nose. Her rosy lips, when pressed together, perfected her splendid complexion.
The beautiful girl fluttered over as if her beauty was sprouting to life. Her entire being embraced an ethereal, dignified temperament. When she saw Chen Nan, a puzzled look appeared on her face. Then, her expression took a drastic turn. She pointed at Chen Nan with the magic wand in her right hand and exclaimed in surprise, “It’s you!”
Chen Nan was startled. He felt that this girl’s voice was extremely familiar. All of the sudden, he was able to associate this girl’s voice with the voice of the girl that he had bumped into at the female dormitory. He sighed in his heart, “Is it actually her? No way. How can I be so unlucky?!”
He wanted to cry, but no tears came out. He quickly said, “I think you have the wrong person, I don’t know you.”
“Hmph! I’ve never gotten the wrong person before. The moment I set my eyes on you, I could already recognize you. I didn’t think you’d have the guts to actually come back here.”
When the youth at the side heard this, he promptly unsheathed his longsword from his waist. “Young lady, I’ll gladly serve you.”
“Stay back, I still have something I want to ask him.”
Chen Nan was secretly anxious. If he were caught as a pervert, he could imagine the tragic ending that would befall of him.
“Beautiful girl, please, I really don’t know you.” With that said, he began to make his escape.
But the beautiful girl immediately used a flying spell and landed in front of him, barring his way. “Want to run? It won’t be that easy! Everyone from this college has been searching all over to capture you two.”
“Huh?” Chen Nan stared blankly at her. He sensed that there was some sort of misunderstanding.
He let loose a smile on his face. “Hehe, so it’s just a misunderstanding. We can just talk about it. You’ll definitely realize I’m not the person you want to catch.”
The beauty reprimanded, “Even now you still want to object? It’s not like I’ve never seen you before. That time when I fought with that dumb girl in the sky, you were spectating. Don’t think I didn’t notice you.”
Chen Nan suddenly realized that she was actually the masked girl that rode on that giant golden bird that day.
“Y-you’re that old lady?” The instant those words left Chen Nan’s mouth, regret was all he felt, but it was already too late to take it back.
When the beauty heard his words, her face twisted in anger. “You’re even more abhorrent than that dumb girl!” She angrily gripped her magic wand and a fine electric arc sprang out from her fingers, crackle.
The youth standing at the side raised his longsword and pointed it at Chen Nan. “On behalf of this lady whose beauty is without rival, I will punish you.”
“No need. Stay back, I want to teach this great thief a lesson by myself.”
Chen Nan stared blankly at her, but came back to his senses in a flash. This girl thought he was the princess’s accomplice and the thief who had been robbing people atop a flying tiger.
“It’s a misunderstanding! Beautiful young lady, please listen to my explanation.”
“What can you possibly explain? You and that dumb girl have been robbing people all over the City of Crime making everyone nervous. If you mention the Great Flying Tiger Thief, there’s no one who won’t know of it. Besides, you’re much more heinous than that dumb girl—you never appear, you only control that dumb girl’s exploits from the shadows, but in fact, the mastermind behind it all is you! I suspect that that dumb girl is actually a sincere, kind girl who was corrupted by you. Not only are you a thief who has committed countless crimes, but you’re also a shameless, disgusting person who corrupts others.”
Chen Nan really felt like he had crashed into the southern wall. Not only had he become a great thief and an instigator as well, but that deceitful Little Princess had become some sincere, kind girl. All of the little demon’s crimes were now attributed to him.
“Beautiful young lady, you have to distinguish right from wrong! We have only seen each other once in a hurry and there isn’t any evidence of anything you just said, so how can you just arbitrarily decide that all those things were my doing?”
The beauty said, “You and her are accomplices. If you aren’t the mastermind, then who is?”
“I-I split up with her the instant we entered the city. I have no relation to anything she has done.” It was obvious that Chen Nan had no confidence. Although it was true that he had nothing to do with her crimes, from an outsider’s point of view, he seemed quite suspicious.
“So you have absolutely nothing to do with her. In simple terms, you want all your guilt to be absolved?” The beauty pondered for a moment and continued, “If you want to prove your innocence, then please capture that dumb girl. Only if you can catch her will we know of the facts of the matter.”
Chen Nan said, “I’ve already spent a few days looking for her, but I haven’t found any clues.”
The beauty replied, “I have some matters to attend to right now. Come back here tomorrow. The two of us will discuss her likes and dislikes and her habits. Then, the two of us will go look for her together.”
Chen Nan thought, “Do you think you’re some divine investigator? How can you catch that little demon with just a few pieces of information…?”
The beauty said, “Tomorrow, if you dare not come, I’ll put up your picture all over the City of Freedom. Every expert from Shenfeng Institute will regard you as the Great Flying Tiger Thief and pursue you. Hmph. If that dumb girl’s face hadn’t been covered in so much filth, I would’ve put up pictures of her a long time ago and not have to go through so much trouble to catch her.”
Chen Nan secretly grumbled. Watching the beauty gradually disappear, he couldn’t contain his curses: “God damn…”
The youth at the side gazing dumbly at the beauty’s disappearing silhouette heard his cursing and grew furious: “Y-you dare curse Dongfang-xiaojie behind her back? I challenge you to a duel!” With that said, he thrust his longsword towards Chen Nan.
Chen Nan sighed emotionally. The influence of beauty can never be rivalled. He smiled. “When did I ever curse her? I was just a little angry for a moment and couldn’t help but voice my feelings. May I ask what kind of person that Dongfang-xiaojie is?”
“She’s a student in the Faculty of Magic, but you don’t have any hope at all. You still have yet to prove your innocence.” With that said, the youth turned and left.
“What the hell? I never said anything about being interested in her…”
Chen Nan quickly left Shenfeng Institute. He had just narrowly escaped becoming known as the ‘Great Flying Tiger Thief’. If he stayed a bit longer, perhaps he’d become known as the ‘Great Pervert’.