The group rose early, their daily routine calling for them to wake up at a time that others would be asleep at. It was midnight. What they would possibly be doing at that time was unknown to many but they could always be seen strolling towards the gravity building. Many assume they would be training which would be correct as they were always in the gravity building simply because training in there was beneficial.
When the group came outside of the gravity building, the sun had already risen. They went towards the Mess Hall to get food to eat after a gruelling training session with their mentor, San Guo. San Guo didn't mind training his students at such a late time because he could go without sleep for days and he only needed to meditate for a couple of hours before his whole body would be refreshed and filled with vigour.
They came out together to look for Jin Yuan as they had an agreement with him that he would cook the dishes for their training regime and ti had stuck for over two years. Jin Yuan's food was tasty and provided benefits which only improved the more dishes he learnt and perfected. Shi Die would take over Jin Yuan's job once he managed to get to the same Spirit Cook ranking as Jin Yuan was because he would be able to make food and beverages at the same level Jin Yuan did.
Walking into the Mess Hall was a surprise for them. Ye Xiu looked around the Mess Hall and realised that it was definitely more crowded than he had ever seen it before. Looking towards his mentor he asked, "Did so many freshmen join us this year? It's rather crowded in here."
San Guo smirked. "There's a reason why you attend the Entrance Ceremony you know. A lot of announcements are made during the ceremony so you should've gone to it. I guess I can't fault you for not going to the ceremony since you had only just returned from your mission. The Academies that are attending the tournament have already arrived for the year."
"The tournament starts at the latter half of the year but they are here because it is a tradition for all to come to the hosting Academy from the start of an Academic Year."
Xiao Tu snorted at San Guo's words. "We were tired after our mission, at least give us a break about making us go to a ceremony. It's not like we actually have to go anyway since you inform us of any events that will happen before or after the information is revealed, it doesn't matter to us much anyway."
Shi Die tilted his head slightly. "Do we have enough space to house all the extra students and adults that have come to the Academy? Last I've seen the Academy is already crowded enough as it is and that's even without some of the fourth and fifth years that are out on their missions."
"The Academy has plenty of room for the extra numbers. We have a huge amount of residences on the outer edges of the Academy that aren't used by us. It was mainly made just in case we ever had to host a big tournament such as this. It hasn't been used for a long time but we have cleaned it recently in preparation for their arrival."
"I really didn't expect the residences to be used so the refurbishing was rushed in preparation for the tournament so the residences aren't at the best quality compared to where you are currently living at. It should satisfy them enough though because I know the residences they offer to us in the past tournaments and it was of similar quality."
Shi Die asked more questions about how the Academy was coping with the crowding. "What about food and whatnot? Don't the Spirit Cooks have to work for a longer period of time because there are so many people this time? Are you sure we can cope with the demand? Are they paying for the food or is it all free for them?"
San Guo was amused at Shi Die firing questions at a rapid speed. "Calm down... I'll answer those questions one by one. I'm surprised you are even so interested in the affairs in the Academy. I didn't take you to be a person that would like to know so much about things like this."
Shi Die rubbed the back of his neck. "It's not that it's interesting, it's more the fact that it gives me something to take my mind off when I'm not thinking about things such as food or training."
"That's good at least, it gives you something else to take your mind off training. No people working in the Academy that deals with the food do have to work depending on how many people will actually go to the Mess Hall for their meals. Some of the residences have been equipped with a kitchen because I believe that some of the Academies always bring their own Spirit Cooks to feed their own staff and students."
"Those that do use the Mess Hall have been forewarned that they will have to pay for the food that they buy and all Academies that have hosted the tournament have done the same." San Guo opened the door to Jin Yuan's private kitchen. "Jin Yuan should be here soon so we'll just wait here patiently. He'll take longer to get here due to the influx of students but it shouldn't be too bad because he can hand his duties over to those ranked lower than him anyway."
They continued to speak to each other about what was happening in the school, waiting for Jin Yuan to finish his duties so that they could get receive their food. San Guo had started to use Jin Yuan as his personal cook simply because he was the best person that could cook the most beneficial food in the entire city. He only started to have him as his personal cook because he had started to learn different dishes that pleased his palate.
Jin Yuan walked in, looking flustered and out of breath and quickly took out the ingredients that he would need for his cooking and asked Shi Die to help him out with the ingredient preparation and whispered his instructions to him. Shi Die gestured to Ye Xiu to help out since it was a huge amount of preparation that they had to do as Jin Yuan was cooking.
Ye Xiu washed his hands and quickly started to help with the preparation. Shi Die told him what to do and their synchronisation was flawless as they completed each of their tasks and handed each other what they would need at the correct moment. With the two working together flawlessly, they finished the preparations that Jin Yuan needed in record time and washed their hands and sat back down.
Once all the preparations were finished, Jin Yuan managed to finish what he wanted to make before leaving the room. He didn't bother leaving any instructions on how to eat the dish and hurried out of the kitchen as he was probably busy helping with the demand that the influx of students had caused.
The group ate in silence as Ye Xiu and Shi Die pored over the original of the cooking book that they had borrowed Jin Yuan and looked for what the dish actually was. They managed to find the page on the dish that had looked similar to what Jin Yuan had made and told the others the correct method of eating the dish. Once Xiao Tu had heard of the correct way of eating the dish, he devoured it in an instant, not caring too much about looking barbaric.
They left the private kitchen, locking it behind them with the Principal's card before going their separate ways. San Guo went back to his office to complete all the paperwork that had piled up for him due to the arrangements of the Tournament that he had to complete. Ye Xiu and Xiao Tu went to Liu Fan's residence so they could continue their Smithing. Xiao Tu was about to make his own Qi weapon because Liu Fan had finally deemed his skills better than his own.
It was surprising, to say the least for Liu Fan to see the progress of Xiao Tu's skill in Smithing but once he remembered that Xiao Tu possessed the "Smith's Masterpiece" body physique, he wasn't as surprised as before. He had heard of the legends surrounding those that possess the physique and those that did possess it, came to be known as some of the greatest Smiths of all time.
They might not be the best but many of those that had led new and important discoveries or had made a revolution in the Smithing community were those who possessed the physique. It was known to appear once every few centuries. Xiao Tu was extremely happy with the knowledge that he was going to make his own Qi weapon because his own quarterstaff and spear were not up to par for what he had in mind.
Xiao Tu's techniques that he had been learning didn't need Qi to work but many of them that he had learnt used Qi to bolster the strength of his technique to higher levels. He was only able to move to a higher level when Liu Fan allowed him to borrow some spears that he had made to practice with. They were going to be returned to Liu Fan once he managed to make his own Qi weapon.
Ye Xiu's progress was much slower so he was still learning the ropes, being stuck at the 2nd rank. He didn't mind because he didn't put as much emphasis on training his Smithing skills because he could only practice in one place and that was where Liu Fan's residence was. Whereas with Alchemy he could practice anywhere. Even though he no longer had to learn from Lao Lan or Lao Xiu, he still asked them for advice on obscure things simply because they had such experience with the discipline, they knew a lot.
He was one of two Rank 4 Alchemists in the entire city and the other Rank 4 Alchemist rarely appeared unless there was a massive auction. Due to this, Ye Xiu could make a few Grade 4 pills and elixirs and sell them at an absurd price but nobody would be able to contest his pricing simply because he was the only person that would sell them.
He watched Xiao Tu forge his own weapon because Liu Fan said that it would be a valuable experience to watch another make their own weapon and it should give inspiration on what he would want to do in the future.
As they were doing that, Shang Yang and Shi Die had walked out of the Academy grounds and into the bustling city. Nobody stopped them going out since they were recognised as people that had explicit permission to leave the grounds at any time simply because they were strong and they had been given by San Guo that they could do anything they want.
They were roaming the streets to see if they could find another they would need for their next mission as San Guo had hinted to them that there was going to be an upcoming mission that he was going to hand over to them when they were reporting the results of their previous mission. Knowing this, Shang Yang and Shi Die liked to be prepared and they weren't hesitant about their purchases since they had so much money to spend.
The pair was being watched closely by multiple figures that had mastered the art of stalking. They weren't noticed by the two as they had blended in with the crowd smoothly and it looked like they were minding their own business. These figures didn't dare to step into the Academy simply because of the strength that they held within.