Chapter 17.1 – The Mage Association’s Probe
He recovered all of his things from the firewood room where he was staying, and exited from the back door. On the street, a faint wind brushed by, blowing a fresh yet ice-cold wind. Nian Bing’s mind was comfortable. As he looked at the bustling crowds on the street filled with illuminating lanterns, he was suddenly overcome with a feeling of loss. Upon entering the Mage Association, he had encountered many things. Although he had not slipped-up for now, he still wondered, should he continue to stay in Ice Snow City? ‘Yes, I must definitely remain. Even if the cooking techniques of the Pure Wind House couldn’t hold my interest, the Mage Association library and the True Sun Knife that Feng Nu was making were both necessary to me. One month. I will leave in one month at the latest. Xue Jing, you may be in for a surprise. I only wanted to make you realize that you shouldn’t look down on everyone. I cannot retaliate, but at least I can give that unruly temperament of yours a lesson.’
When Nian Bing returned to the Mage Association, the night had already grown deep. Before entering the Association, he once again changed into his magic gown, which bore the emblem of a Great Mage on his chest. Once he had shown the badge on his chest, the night watch did not block him at all. Nian Bing did not immediately seek out the Ice Magic Scholar. Rather, he first returned to his own room and took a look at the Morning Dew Knife that was underneath the mattress. He hid the other stuff he had brought in a hidden location. Opening the door once again, he first surveyed the area. The passageway was absolutely free of any people. At this time, he left his room and walked out, closing the door with his back hand and headed in the westernmost direction.
As he walked, Nian Bing quelled his spirit force, and rotated his internal fire and ice magic source whirlpool to have the ice on the outside, fire on the inside. By doing so, he concealed his fire magic nature, one of his greatest secrets.
From the vantage point of the entrance, the westernmost room did not appear to have anything particular about it. It was actually similar to his own residence. After raising his hand to knock several times, he said, “Hello, I am Nian Bing.”
The door opened soundlessly. An old and muffled voice came from inside, saying, “Enter.”
Upon just crossing the threshold, Nian Bing abruptly felt something icy hit him in the face. Subconsciously, he lifted up the Icicle Rod in his hand and, in a flash, casted a rank 2 Ice Curtain spell to block his front.
The room suddenly lit up. This was also an entrance hall, only a lot bigger than his own. Atop the sofa sat the Ice Magic Scholar who calmly watched him. With a praising nod, he said, “Not bad; your reaction was very fast. No wonder Li De thought so highly of you. As a Magic Scholar, however, that alone is not enough to protect yourself. If the enemy had been a martial arts expert, and had mounted a sudden attack, you would have been entirely defenseless. Such low grade magic really is useless.”
Nian Bing stared blankly for a moment, then nodded his head and said, “Many thanks for giving me pointers, senior.”
The Ice Magic Scholar pointed to the couch by his side, and said, “Sit, I called you here. I have a few things I want to tell you. As for listening or not it depends on you.”
Nian Bing sat down on the sofa, and assumed an appearance of trust. In front of a Magic Scholar, even if he were to have his defenses up, it would be of no use. Besides, he firmly believed that this Ice Magic Scholar, at least for now, did not have any harmful intentions towards him.
A light flashed; suddenly many transparent gems were in the Ice Magic Scholar’s hand. The stones sparkled with a rainbow-colored ray of light. Before Nian Bing could respond, he clearly felt an extremely strong magic power enshrouding his body. The strange thing was, this magic power did not have an aggressive nature.
The light vanished, and the transparent stones twinkling with rainbow light reverted to its undisturbed state. The Ice Magic Scholar seemed to let out a breath of relief and said indifferently, “My name is Bing Jing, but from now on you can call me Teacher Bing Jing. Nian Bing, since you cultivate Ice magic, why did you enter the Association rather than the Ice God Pagoda? As a mage, I think you should know that the Ice God Pagoda is the most desired place for Ice Magic Scholars. Only there can you learn the most profound Ice magic. Having said this, there is no point in me saying more.”
Nian Bing’s heart tremored violently. Doing his utmost to maintain an indifferent tone, he said, “Frankly speaking, Teacher Bing Jing, I don’t like places like the Ice God Pagoda. I feel that their restrictions are too strong. I don’t know why, but the Ice Snow Pagoda always gave me an overbearing feeling. I would rather just cultivate undisturbed; I definitely do not want to get caught up in any struggles, and I also do not want to become a tool of the Ice God Pagoda. So…”
Bing Jing abruptly got to his feet, his eyes flashing a cold light. “Nian Bing, do you know who you are talking to? I’m telling you honestly that I am a Worshipper of the Ice God Pagoda. Right now, I am giving you a chance to decide. Leave here, head north, and join the Ice God Pagoda. With my introduction, I think that you will definitely get placed in an important position.”
Nian Bing secretly smiled coldly in his heart. He similarly stood up, and said with such devotion to righteousness that it inspired reverence with a wrinkle in his brows, “Sorry, Teacher Bing Jing. Since I have already entered the Association, I am already a part of the Association. Though the Ice God’s Pagoda may be fine and dandy, it isn’t somewhere that I want to go. Please excuse me. If there isn’t anything else, I will go.” Having said this, he turned his body to walk out the door.
Bing Jing’s whole body let out a cold light and the room’s temperature decreased drastically. In the midst of a frost mist, he said indifferently, “Are you not scared that I will kill you?”
Nian Bing turned his body, looking at Bing Jing by the barest sliver. “Teacher Bing Jing, I think you wouldn’t dare. This is the Mage Association, not your Ice God’s Pagoda. I really don’t understand. The Ice God’s Pagoda and the Mage Association are both pillars of the Ice Moon Empire. Why would they hate each other? No matter what it is, I will not join the Ice God’s Pagoda.” Having said these words, his eyes could not help but emit a resolute chilliness. This was not feigned. The hatred he had for the Ice God’s Pagoda was buried deep in the recesses of his heart, but from time to time it unintentionally arose.
The chilling atmosphere coming from Bing JIng’s person vanished. He smiled, and at the same time, the doors of the interior room opened. Out came two people: Association President Long Zhi and Ice Magic Scholar Li De.
Bing Jing smiled slightly and said, “President, you can relax this time. This child is neither someone wanted by the Ice God’s Pagoda or someone who would betray the association when it suits him.”
Long Zhi, satisfied, nodded his head. Looking at Nian Bing’s doubtful face, he said, “Child, it was our bad this time. You are a new addition to the Association, and we needed to probe you. Right now, you have already been verified. I hope you can understand. Don’t worry, you have been loyal to the Association. The Association will not mistreat you. Okay, you can go now.”
After blankly saluting the three people, Nian Bing left the room. Long Zhi turned his head to Li De, who was right next to him. “What do you think?”
A small smile crossed Li De’s face as he said, “I still think as I told you earlier. This child seems to have no deeper machinations and wholeheartedly wants to study. In the future, he will inevitably become a powerful mage.”
Long Zhi softly sighed and said, “From what we’ve seen now, he seems to be truly as such. He is either really inexperienced or his scheming runs so deep that even I cannot see what he is truly thinking in his heart.”
Bing Jing took out the transparent stones that twinkled with the rainbow-colored light and passed them to Long Zhi. “President, I see that you’re thinking too much. Even if he was profoundly scheming, this is not necessarily disadvantageous for us. As long as he is not someone being sought after by the Ice God’s Pagoda, and is not that so-called Magic Reaper, we can just investigate him more later. Oh, that’s right, it seems that that child Shi Jiu had just previously stayed in his room for a moment. Afterwards, Nian Bing also left. I don’t know what he was doing. I originally wanted to assign people to follow him, but I was also afraid of him finding out. He went out for about an hour.”
Long Zhi helplessly said, “Whatever he was doing does not matter. I reckon it was to return to his hotel to retrieve his baggage. However, in this time, there is no point in obviously waiting right? We were not able to fully vet him, but at least we verified a part of him. Actually, he was at the library this afternoon studying all kinds of basic level materials. I have already stopped doubting him. I saw him through the window when I was returning from the Pure Wind House. He looked resolutely devoted. That definitely could not be faked. Shi Jiu’s natural instincts are not bad, and his innate talent is also pretty good, his only misgiving is that he thinks himself as infallible. If I were to guess correctly, he sought out Nian Bing because of Ling’er. Having said that, from now on, I would rather hand over my daughter to Nian Bing; I have no desire for Ling’er to wed him. No matter how many schemes Nian Bing has, he is much stronger than Xiao Jiu.”