Chapter 49: Junior make-up exam (10)
Princess Qiaoni finally decided to leave. She hadn’t made this trip for nothing. Although there was a possibility that her marriage with Di Lin would come to nothing, she had harvested many magic talents from the institution. This was sufficient to make up for the drawbacks – that is, if one only took it at face-value.
Di Lin arrived at the Illusion Lake to send Princess Qiaoni off.
Standing amidst the picturesque scenery, Princess Qiaoni’s beauty resembled those seen in dreams and fantasies. Her slender waist and alluring physique – all of these made Di Lin think of his mother who had met an early demise. The her in his memories seemed as dignified and gentle as Princess Qiaoni.
Princess Qiaoni saw him staring blankly at her and smiled slightly. “Are you regretting it now? Little Basco Duke.”
Di Lin was slightly embarrassed. “May princess have a pleasant journey.”
“I am waiting for your answer,” Princess Qiaoni didn’t have any intentions of letting him off.
Di Lin said heavily, “I persist in my decision.”
Princess Qiaoni smiled faintly. “Looks like I missed a chance to reject you.”
“Princess?” Di Lin was stunned.
Princess Qiaoni’s smile was tinged by a slight disappointment. “I too have a girl’s sense of self-respect, and even more so the pride of a princess.” Her words were equivalent to directly putting a full stop on the engagement that had yet to be realized.
Standing at the side, Justin’s gaze warmed, a tenderness that neither of them realized flickering in his eyes.
Di Lin took it all in and could only fall silent.
Given Princess Qiaoni’s pride and aspirations, no matter how outstanding Justin was as an individual, his weak family background could not be covered up.
Not long after he sent Princess Qiaoni off, the day to set off for Senriga arrived.
Rui Meng was so excited that he scratched at his cheeks, accidentally leaving quite a few scratches on his face that made him the target of teasing for a good length of time. But teasing was just teasing; the majority of people were still rather envious of him. Regardless of how outstanding they were among their peers, at this moment, they were nothing more than youths who had left their native land.
Di Lin noticed that Suo Suo’s head had been lowered ever since they got onto the boat. He slumped dispiritedly over the table, an entirely different person from when he had arrived at Saint Padeus.
“Missing home?” Di Lin stroked his hair.
Suo Suo shook his head.
To him, Julan’s imperial palace did not possess much attraction.
Rui Meng and Kevin were seated together in the row in front of them. Hearing their voices, they turned around and asked, “Could it be seasickness?”
Suo Suo shook his head once again.
Rui Meng commented, “He was okay the other time when we rode the boat to the institution.”
Di Lin had some understanding. “Is it the competition?”
Suo Suo’s mouth flattened. “I’ll definitely be expelled.”
Rui Meng and Kevin looked at each other in dismay and then unanimously looked towards Di Lin.
Suo Suo had been at the institution for so long and had always been doing odd jobs like arranging documents. He had never learnt magic even once. If the competition this time was a battle like what the rumors said, then it would truly be very dangerous for Suo Suo.
Rui Meng thought back to Saint Sauvy’s harsh entry exam. His joy at going home was instantly washed clean and he started worrying as well.
Di Lin placed his hand on Suo Suo’s head and gently rubbed it it. “Relax. Magic isn’t the only thing that’s needed in a battle. It’ll depend on tactics too.”
Kevin’s brows furrowed. “We’ve never learnt tactics before. Isn’t Saint Sauvy the one who needs that?”
Rui Meng laughed. “Did you forget which family Di Lin comes from?”
Only after his reminder did Kevin recall that his father was Shamanril’s top general. He said hurriedly, “That’s good then. With you commanding the fight, we’ll definitely win.”
Thinking that the knowledge he learnt from young could be put to good use, excitement naturally filled Di Lin’s heart. However, none of this emotion showed on his face. “That would depend on Tutor’s arrangements.”
Rui Meng gave him a pat on the shoulder and replied as if he had a well-thought out plan, “The person leading the team this time is Hydin… Tutor. There won’t be any problems.” The fact that Hydin had only wanted Di Lin among so many others was enough to see how favorably he looked upon Di Lin. So, he ought to give his favorite pupil an opportunity to grow during the competition. Anyway, given the Basco clan’s reputation, it was very reasonable to do so.
Di Lin subconsciously looked towards the back of the ship.
After getting on the boat, Hydin had gone into the room specially for boaters and hadn’t come out since then.
The youths very quickly and optimistically tossed this matter to the back of their minds and started to discuss Senriga’s gourmet foods and beautiful scenery.
The boat traveled along the Illusion Lake for a total of nine days.
The youths’ moods shifted from anxiety to excitement, from excitement to gloominess, from gloominess to fatigue, and eventually returned to anxiety and excitement when they glimpsed the riverside. Their moods rose and fell, traveling one whole round.
Since there were a limited number of seats on the boat, they slept on the observation deck on the second floor. With so many people squeezed on one deck, just turning around was a difficult affair. So, Di Lin and Suo Suo only stayed there for a night before escaping back down. They would rather sit in the hold of the boat than go up. At most, they would have to go up during the day to replenish their sleep.
When they alighted, Di Lin was still all right, but Suo Suo’s face was so pale that he nearly couldn’t stand steady.
Having lived with them in the same room for so long, Rui Meng had long regarded Suo Suo as his own younger brother. He complained upon seeing Suo Suo’s state, “It’s the institution’s fault for being so stingy. We wouldn’t need to endure so many grievances if we had used a magic array.”
Kevin shrugged. “Nothing can be done about that. Ever since casual entry into and out of the Nightmare Forest stopped, the number of magic nuclei has dropped drastically. It’s not like gems are recyclable either, so Saint Padeus doesn’t have a choice but to abolish most of the magic arrays that can be replaced by other things.”
Rui Meng grumbled, “The Nightmare Forest is just next door, how difficult is it to grab two magic nuclei?” He didn’t believe that Saint Padeus had genuinely guarded the Nightmare Forest as if it was a treasure without taking anything.
Kevin knew he couldn’t persuade him, so he simply shut his mouth.
However, leaving the boat was not akin to reaching Saint Sauvy’s Glorious Institution.
They hadn’t reached the end of the modes of transport they had to take.
Rui Meng looked at the two enormous ox-pulled carts before them in shock. Flabbergasted, he said, “Don’t tell me…”
There were already students who had sat down under the tutors’ guidance. Aridi and Jeffery had also joined the queue already.
Di Lin inclined his head and glanced at Hydin.
Hydin was dressed in a black mage gown. Both of his hands were placed behind his back, while the only expression he had on his face was indifference, as if he had no relation to these students.
Di Lin felt some discomfort in his heart.
“Quick, let’s go,” Rui Meng knocked his elbow against him. “Get a good spot.”
Di Lin supported Suo Suo as they walked towards the cart at the back.
Just as they were about to climb up, Hydin’s gaze suddenly swept over. Di Lin’s heart leapt, and the right foot that was about to step up couldn’t help but pause.
Does he have something to say to me? This thought suddenly appeared in Di Lin’s mind.
But Hydin’s gaze did not stop, shifting back swiftly instead.
Di Lin wilted, though he didn’t know what was the cause behind it.
After getting on the vehicle, he specially left the seat at the corner for Suo Suo, so that he could breathe in more fresh air.
Kevin was clearly very dissatisfied with his seat at the outermost section. He stared at Rui Meng with his large eyes and asked with discontentment, “Is this Senriga’s specialty?”
Rui Meng had gotten on the cart with him, so his spot wasn’t anything great either. But it wasn’t the time for him to get angry now. What choice did he have; who let the earth that he was treading on happen to belong to Senriga? Thus, he could only give Kevin a cooperative laugh, “A characteristic of the countryside, characteristic of the countryside.”
Kevin shot a wry face at him.
In fact, compared to nobility like Rui Meng and Di Lin who lived like princes, he was more familiar with ox-pulled carts.
Rui Meng abruptly pulled close to Di Lin, asking in a low voice. “Did you realize that Tutor Hydin doesn’t seem very happy?”
Only after Di Lin looked in the direction of his gaze did he realize that Hydin was sitting at the front-most section of the cart they were on, along with the person who was driving. Though it was only a view of his back, it exuded an icy aura full of alienation.
Kevin was seated close by, and he smiled coldly. “Nobody would be very happy seated on such a vehicle, right?” Even if there weren’t enough carriages, they could have at least dispatched a few more carts. What did they mean by having every person sit shoulder-to-shoulder and thigh-to-thigh?
“I don’t think he’s ever been happy after getting onto the boat,” Rui Meng concluded.
Although many of Rui Meng’s conclusions had been guesses fueled by his own wishful thinking, Di Lin was still quite curious about this guess of his. “Why?”
“He didn’t come out at all on the boat. Now that we’re on shore, his complexion isn’t very good either,” Rui Meng stated.
Suo Suo suddenly blurted out a statement, “I think Tutor Hydin may be seasick.”
The other three people looked at him strangely.
Suo Suo’s voice suddenly lowered. “That’s my guess.”
Rui Meng stroked his chin. “It’s a possibility. He’s a fire mage after all.” He suddenly stared at Di Lin solemnly.
Di Lin said unhappily, “Nothing good ever happens when you look at me that way.”
Rui Meng replied, “There is an exception to everything.”
Di Lin raised a brow.
Rui Meng immediately revealed a smile. “I just feel that if Tutor Hydin really isn’t feeling well, as his student, you have the grounds and obligation to call on him.”
Di Lin looked at him suspiciously. “And then?”
“Feel him out along the way and see if you’ll be the one commanding the battle.”
“If you are,” Rui Meng finally revealed his true colors. He grabbed Di Lin’s arm and uttered sincerely, “Then, you must assign me a task that’s both safe and attention-grabbing!”
Di Lin’s expression didn’t change. “Blow the horn?”
Rui Meng, “…”
Despite rejecting Rui Meng during the day, Di Lin still couldn’t stop himself from knocking on Hydin’s door at night.
The hotel they were staying at wasn’t considered bad. There were ten rooms on every floor. It was unknown if it was done intentionally or unintentionally, but Hydin’s room happened to be opposite his and Suo Suo’s.
The door opened very quickly. Hydin stood looking at him with a head of damp, golden hair and creased brows.
Di Lin suddenly felt a chill on the back of his hand. Lowering his head, he realized that it was the droplets of water that had dripped from the tips of Hydin’s hair.
“Something the matter?” Hydin raised a brow.
It had to be said, a Hydin with damp hair appeared markedly younger than his usual appearance. He even looked somewhat delicate.
Di Lin was given a shock by his own description.
Seeing that he didn’t reply, Hydin simply left the door open and went back in.
Di Lin hesitated for a moment before following him in. Then, he saw Hydin face the mirror and raise the flame in the palm of his hand to…
Burn his hair?