Volume 1 – Between Daybreak and Evernight, Chapter 17: Graduation
The imperial army had an unwritten rule. Those who became a rank two Fighter before the age of eighteen could join the special forces, but only those who became a rank two Fighter before seventeen would be accepted by the absolute best of the special units, not to mention that this was just the minimum threshold. There were many more criteria to be met before they would be chosen by the most elite imperial forces.
Qianye was already sixteen.
Igniting his nodes, stabilizing his powers, and preparing for the graduation exam all needed time. If he became a rank two Fighter only when he was about to turn seventeen, then it would probably be incredibly difficult for Qianye to obtain eligibility for the special corps.
The graduates of the Yellow Springs Training Camp would almost always serve with the imperial army for several years before planning their own futures. From the moment he entered the training camp, Qianye had already made up his mind to not only walk out of this place alive, but also enter at least a first class special forces group if not the best.
Qianye felt that this was the only way he would not humiliate the surname that was soon to be his—Lin.
Qianye did not lack talent, but his chronic wound had nearly destroyed everything he had! In this world of war and turmoil, no one cared for the process and instead focused solely on the results.
Qianye was already sixteen, yet he still had not managed to break through to rank two. This was his result, and tonight, he would change it!
Under the moonlight, Qianye’s origin power began to flow and rippled into waves which struggled towards his scars, attacking the node barriers.
Tide after tide of origin power formed continuously, and waves after waves of inhuman pain rushed over him just the same. But Qianye had already cleared his mind as he waited quietly for the results.
The seventeenth tide of origin power surged by, and the eighteenth tide of origin power had finally arrived!
Qianye’s face was deathly pale, and rivulets of sweat ran down his body like raindrops. His body shuddered non-stop under the extreme pain and powerfully rebounding origin power. Each and every wave of origin power caused Qianye to feel as if he had died and reborn!
The first to ninth wave took only the blink of an eye, and when the ninth wave slammed into the node barrier—with a crisp, cracking sound, the originally indestructible barrier finally fractured under the incredibly powerful impacts of origin power. The barrier’s days were numbered!
The waves gradually subsided as his origin power returned to tranquility. When Qianye finally relaxed, his vision instantly turned black as he fainted.
When Qianye woke up again, two days had passed.
He opened his eyes and saw the familiar surroundings of the classroom. He was laying on an ice-cold metal platform. Apparently Shen Tu had saved his life once more.
“Insane! Absolutely insane!” This old man who had never given life credit actually scolded Qianye.
Shen Tu’s medical skills were truly impressive. Qianye had forcefully endured eighteen tides of origin power, causing damage all throughout his internal organs. But he still managed to treat his injuries without leaving behind any latent damage whatsoever. No matter how badly Shen Tu scolded him, the only thing Qianye felt for him right now was gratitude.
With eighteen tides of origin power as his foundation, Qianye finally managed to ignite his node a month later and became a rank two Fighter.
After becoming a rank two Fighter, most people would awaken an ability related to origin power. Some lucky fellows would even be able to choose between several abilities. Qianye, whose talents were amazing in the first place was given such a choice. He could choose Heavy Caliber, Origin Leap or Double Shot as his ability.
Qianye didn’t waste time thinking, and chose Heavy Caliber straight away.
Heavy Caliber was a very common ability, and was applied specifically on origin firearms. When activated, he would be able to dish out a much more powerful shot than usual. The increase in power was around fifty percent.
After Qianye ignited his second origin node, he discovered that the origin power it generated was unusually monstrous and incredibly difficult to control. In this situation, Heavy Caliber—an ability that emphasized only power—was most suited for him.
After yet another two months of meticulous preparation, Qianye applied for the training camp’s graduation exam. He walked towards the great valley, equipped with the most basic combat dagger and a strange rifle.
This was an origin rifle. It might be of the simplest and most basic model, but it was still an origin rifle!
The training camp would issue every student a single dagger for the graduation exam. They were not allowed to bring any other equipment with them. However, equipment handmade by the students themselves was an exception.
Qianye’s perfect scores during the knowledge classes had finally proved their worth. He had actually managed to hand-make an origin rifle from the most basic materials, even if it was the simplest and most basic origin rifle which could compress and hold only one origin bullet.
And so, Qianye became the first student to carry an origin rifle to the graduation exam in thirty years.
Crystal Lizards were tough enemies, but that was only for students wielding a simple dagger. Hundreds of meters away, Qianye filled the origin rifle with energy, aimed, activated Heavy Caliber and fired.
A blazing red light shot out of the muzzle and blew off a small portion of the Crystal Lizard’s head!
It really was this easy. There was no rule that said that they could not use an origin firearm as long as they were able to build it. Moreover, Qianye’s shot was incredibly powerful. With the enhancement from Heavy Caliber, it was already equivalent to a strike from a rank three Fighter.
On the third month after his sixteenth birthday, Qianye graduated from the Yellow Springs Training Camp.
The news of Qianye’s graduation spread quickly. A few days later, Shi Yan drove a heavy truck to the valley entrance.
In a flash, Qianye had spent a total of nine years in the Yellow Springs Training Camp.
Qianye was already 1.85 meters tall and not much shorter compared to people who were overly stalwart like Shi Yan. He was not as muscular and defined as Shi Yan, but he definitely did not give off an impression of weakness either. His figure was slender and his proportions were balanced. Every line on his body was filled with tension.
Shi Yan looked just like usual. It was just that his eyebrows and corners had added a few wrinkles, causing people to abruptly realize the mercilessness of time.
When he saw Qianye, Shi Yan’s wooden face abruptly added a few colors. He lifted his hand as if to pat his head out of habit, before switching to a heavy punch at Qianye’s chest. He praised, “Good boy! You finally came out alive! Come, let me have a good look at you!”
Qianye’s facial features were clean and pure. He was still incredibly handsome, but the fact that he took a blow from Shi Yan and did not shake even a little caused him to feel even happier. He forced the blunt lines on his stone-carved face into a smile.
Shi Yan greeted Qianye once and jumped straight into the truck’s driver seat. This soldier who rarely smiled more than a couple of times per year had a soft spot for this kind of rough heavy-styled truck.
Immediately after Qianye got in, Shi Yan started driving.
In the driver’s seat, Shi Yan said, “Marshal Lin was extremely happy to hear that you’ve graduated. He asked me to come receive you immediately. Unfortunately, he was assigned to the Western Frontier recently and cannot leave his post. I’m afraid you won’t be able to see him in a short while.”
“Did something happen at the Western Frontier?” Qianye asked.
“Two provinces rebelled, demanding independence. It’s nothing big, just slightly troublesome to deal with. Those rebels are incredibly cunning. They often hide inside the homes of civilians to conceal their identities.”
“Rebels?” This was the first time Qianye heard this term.
Shi Yan said disgustedly, “They’re just a bunch of ignorant idiots! The Empire has been using everything it has against the dark races, and not only do they refuse to contribute to the frontlines, they even cause non-stop trouble behind our backs. They want to overturn the Empire’s rule? Heh, since it was founded, the Empire has been standing for twelve hundred years. Now it spans over three hundred provinces and four continents. How could it possibly be overturned by these fools?”
Qianye listened to him quietly. If two provinces alone were enough to drag Lin Xitang down to the Western Frontier, then naturally the rebels weren’t as helpless as Shi Yan had described.
Shi Yan drove quietly for a while before speaking again in a slightly heavier tone. “The rebels are a handful. Like I said earlier, they often hide next to ordinary people. Since the people of those provinces are so ignorant, there are plenty of people who are willing to protect them at the cost of their friends and families. Marshal Lin cannot lay a hand on them at the moment, and so those fools think that their scheme has succeeded. Hmph! What a bunch of fools. In truth, they know nothing at all! The reason Marshal Lin has not used scorched earth tactics to sweep them out is because he isn’t willing to harm the civilians. That’s why the war has been delayed.”
At this point, Shi Yan came to a long pause before he let out a heavy sigh. “Such days will not last much longer. If there is still no progress in the future, then Marshal Lin will soon be switched out and replaced by a general from another faction. It doesn’t matter who that general may be, but when that happens those two provinces will definitely bleed rivers of blood!”
Qianye suddenly felt heavy. If even someone like Shi Yan would describe it so terribly, then exactly how many people were going to die?
Qianye had murdered before in the Yellow Spring Training Camp. He had walked past the line where he would treat life as something of value. But in comparison to these famous imperial generals, well, there was no comparison to be made at all. Even if he became a top class killer in the future, even if he totaled up all the people and beings of the dark races he killed in his entire life, it might not match up to these generals’ single, weightless command.
The heavy truck drove swiftly.
“Qianye!” Shi Yan suddenly said.
“Tomorrow is the day the imperial army begins its recruitment. I will take you there to participate in the assessment. Perform well. Two each of all five elite imperial corps will be present there as examiners. If you perform well, then there may be a chance for you to join them!”
“I’ll do my best!”
Suddenly, Shi Yan sighed and said, “I hope you can join the elite corps and become a famous imperial general in the future! Marshal Lin has too many enemies within the army.”
When he heard this, Qianye’s heart abruptly sank.
Shi Yan took out an item from his chest and passed it to Qianye. He said, “This is Marshal Lin’s gift to you.”
When Qianye accepted it and took a look, he discovered that it was a special letter folded in the shape of a square. There were dark patterns on the surface of the paper, and when the letter was unfolded the three words ‘Lin Qianye’ was written powerfully inside it. However, the corners of the paper was a little torn, the creases appeared to have some years behind them, and the ink was a little faint.
“Marshal Lin wrote this nine years ago.” Shi Yan seemed to know what Qianye was thinking about.
“Nine years ago?” Qianye said in disbelief. Wasn’t that when he first entered the Yellow Springs Training Camp?
“When Marshal Lin asked me to send you to the Yellow Springs, he had said that you would definitely return alive.” Shi Yan smiled and answered.
The heavy truck continued to zoom on the road before arriving at an airship base by midnight. Coincidentally, there was a transport airship that had just entered the port, so Shi Yan drove them and the car together into the airship.
After the airship had done a simple resupply, it began turning back during the latter half of the night.
Their destination, was Xiangyang.
This was the largest military industrial city on the Qin Continent, and ranked at number three out of every city within the borders of the Empire.