Han Lingyun knew that he just gained access to precious information, so he tried his best to get as many answers as possible.

For instance, the choice of his first martial art was scheduled for the afternoon and Han Lingyun only knew the basics which were common knowledge. Martial arts, at least at the body tempering stage fell into a small number of categories: attack type, defense type, and movement type. Before the qi condensation stage, cultivators cannot use qi freely outside of their body, so the magical arts focus on enhancing the body: muscles, reflexes, skin.

For example: attack type magical arts can drastically enhance your punch, or accelerate your sword. Defense type magical arts often focus on hardening some parts of the body like ones' forearms or the tibia. Others can also improve swordplay, this time with a defensive style. Movement type martial arts are generally divided into two main categories: short bursts of speed used for evasion, or a longer enhancement to run a lot faster.

"What type of martial art would you recommend I pick?" Han Lingyun asked.

Lan Ruoxi took a moment to organize her thoughts: "There are no right answers as some types of martial arts are best suited for some, and not for others. Try to pick something that you think would suit you best. However, before making a choice there are a couple of elements you should keep in mind. Your initial ranking as 16th was obtained through a multitude of factors, but from now on, the rankings will only be determined by combat.

At the beginning of each month, duels will be held to readjust rankings, with more resources given to those at the top. Most of the time, disciples with attack type magical arts do better in duels because those are held in a controlled environment. But, most of the disciple who die also use attack type magical arts."

"How do they die?" Han Lingyun worriedly asked.

"Magical beast and missions. Disciples with only attack type magical arts are more vulnerable: they often have to take risks to attack but struggle to defend or evade if they miss or lack damage." Lan Ruoxi looked a bit down as she recollected.

Han Lingyun acquiesced; he already had a preference but he still wanted to confirm it with numbers. A choice like this must be backed by rationality.

"Miss Lan, sorry if I appear callous, but do you know the numbers of deaths per choice?"

"Hum it's okay. As an estimate, out of the 140ish missing disciples, I think around 110 learned an attack type magical art, 15 a defense type, and 15 a movement type. But that doesn't mean you are 7 times more likely to go missing if you learn an attack type magical art, my year around 60% of the disciples chose attack, 25% chose movement, and 15% chose defense."

Han Lingyun briefly calculated. "Hum, so 1 out of 4 disciples choosing attack died, 1 out of 13 choosing movement died, and 1 out of 8 choosing defense died. Movement seems to provide the best survivability."

Lan Ruoxi nodded. "That's right Han Lingyun. However, don't get too caught up in this choice. Your 1st magical arts won't determine your future path of cultivation. In fact, in 2nd year, the first thing that you do is pick two new magical arts and most disciples don't remain one sided, which is the easiest to exploit in battle. Also, in practice, magical arts don't strictly fall into one category. Attack can be the best defense. It can also have an intimidating factor. Defense can be used to counterattack; speed gives more strength when attacking. Then again, each magical art has its own characteristics."

"I see." Han Lingyun remained pensive. "However, miss Lan, I don't understand why we are limited to learning only one magical art? It still seems like a handicap."

"That's because it is, on the short term. First, mastering a magical art is hard but a good mastery is necessary to execute it consistently. Second, it takes time to learn and at our level, the priority remains cultivation. As long as you remain in the body cultivation realm, a qi cultivator can crush you easily. The reason we learn a magical art at all is to get accustomed to battle. Finally, the objective is to teach you how to take advantage of your strengths, and of your opponent's weaknesses. At the same cultivation level, your proficiency and battle sense determine the winner or the survivor." Lan Ruoxi cautioned.

"Thank you miss Lan! I think I can see the bigger picture now. By the way, which martial art type did you first pick?" Han Lingyun was curious.

"Hehe because I was already proficient with the sword, I chose a sword-based attack type magical art. As long as I cut down the enemy first, I win. However, I can also use my sword to defend and deflect attacks. What about you, have you made your choice disciple Lingyun?"

"I lean towards a movement type martial art. Ideally; I would be able to kite enemies then counter attack. If someone is above my level, I will run faster than them. If someone is weaker than me, I will always catch up if they want to run. Also with my 4th grade talent, I know that I will be able to make quick progress in cultivation, so my objective on the short term is simply to survive and grow quickly. In general, I also feel that a movement magical art serves as good foundation."

Ruoxi Lan acquiesced. "It's good that you thought it through. However, I must warn you, magical arts that combine dodging and fast running tend to be harder to master and to be lackluster in both aspects."

"I will take that into consideration miss Lan, thank you for all the advice. B-by the way if I may ask, what is your current rank?"

"Hihi you don't have to be shy, I am ranked 11th now. It has remained quite stable. In general, it's rare for those with 3rd grade talent to overtake those with 4th grade talent, even if there are always exceptions. My year there are 41 disciples with grade 4 talent. If I cultivate diligently and avoid severe injuries, my rank will never fall below 50."

Han Lingyun praised "That's great! I'll be sure to not be complacent Major. I'll make the shu family proud you will see!"

"Is that all my little minor?" Lan Ruoxi teased.

"You are only one year older than me miss Lan, please don't treat me like a baby."

"Hehe that's my little revenge from getting looked down upon by my major Zhang Fang. You will see how I'll overtake him humph."

Han Lingyun was a bit surprised by her rapid turn. "A-anyway I still have a question. You see, I am quite scared of dying so young. So, I was wondering, do those who die belong to the lower rankings."

Lan Ruoxi turned serious again. "No, it doesn't work like that. Nobody is safe. People with higher rankings also tend to aim for bigger scores and can also overestimate their capabilities, be distracted at a critical moment, or simply be unlucky. The deaths are spread throughout the rankings, keep that in mind."

"I'll remember this." Han Lingyun responded gravely.

This last warning dampened his mood somewhat but he felt very grateful to Lan Ruoxi.

Han Lingyun was feeling pretty good overall. His major was very helpful and he now had a solid plan for his 1st year. Learn a movement art but focus as much as possible on cultivation.

"ALLRIGHT, THAT'S ENOUGH FOR THE CHIT CHAT! You will have plenty of occasions to discuss further on a later date. Now it's time for the newbies to make a trip to the library." Captain Lacroix ended the discussions between majors and minors acquainting each other. "Follow me to the north peak. 2nd years, you are dismissed, go back and cultivate diligently."

As the 1st years were jogging to keep up with the hovering Captain Lacroix, Wei Muchen the number 1 ranked 1st year decided to man up and ask: "Captain Lacroix, when will we receive our white tiger robes?"

She smirked: "It's a bit early for that young man. You will be given grey robes for now. You will first have to prove yourself worthy to wear the white tiger robe. That will be later on this year. We want tiger cubs, not crying babies."

Wei Muchen lowered his head. Indeed, they all wanted to be as cool as the 2nd years they just met.

A Four-story pavilion soon peeked behind another mountain. It was grand, it was imposing. When the 1st years arrived in front, they felt suffocated by the pavilion, the history it represented, the knowledge it condensed, the power it could provide.

"Disciples, you will only be able to choose from the books of the 1st floor, for body strengthening realm. The 2nd floor has martial arts suitable for the qi condensation realm, the 3rd floor is only for Foundation establishment martial arts, and the 4th floor for Core Formation. You will enter by groups of 200 every two hours from lowest to highest rank. If you have any doubts, one of the elders in the library can always give you some advice. You should trust their experience."

The ones with the better rank rejoiced and the ones with a rank superior to 600 suddenly felt dispirited at the prospect of waiting for 6 hours doing nothing.

A middle-aged looking man walked out of the pavilion with a genuine smile. "Good morning younglings, call me Elder Shun. I am responsible for the library. As Captain Lacroix said, let those with ranks 1 to 200 come in, you have two hours to make a choice between the martial arts. I warn you; two hours isn't that long of a time if you don't know what to look for. Also, you don't have to rush to pick any particular martial art, we have copies of each and every one of them. All 800 of you can pick the same martial art if you wish so. As for the 600 left, I am sure Captain Lacroix will take good care of you."

She smirked. The 1st years felt a chill running down their spine.

Elder Shun announced "And the two hours start now."


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