Included in the instruction manual was a 3-dimensional map, which introduced the site of the competition, the "Yellow Wind Ridge".
The Yellow Wind Ridge was a world fragment which was no different than the Heaven Origin Sector. It was not suitable for cultivation, but it was the best place for combat drills.
From south to north, it measured roughly twenty kilometers long and was successively divided into flatland, jungle and canyon regions.
Among which, the jungle region, which was the centermost region of the whole world fragment, was filled with swamps, hills, shrubs, and caves. It was the largest region among all three.
It was also perennially filled with a light yellow mist. Although it was harmless to human body, it caused some interference with the line of sight, hence the name, Yellow Wind Ridge.
It was quite foreseeable that the jungle region would be the main battlefield of this match.
Such complex terrain along with the interference of the mist would add a large number of variables to the entire match. The freshmen could quite possibly encounter their foes waiting in ambush at any time, which would subsequently develop into brutal encounters.
Such a terrain was a paradise for guerilla warfare.
Nevertheless, Li Yao was anything but pleased.
His winning conditions weren't something like surviving in the Yellow Wind Ridge for few hours or a couple of days. Instead, starting from the southernmost part of the Yellow Mist Ridge, he would have to go through the flatland, the jungle, and the canyon. His goal was the northernmost region of the map which was the "contact point of the Starfire Union".
However, the Chaos Edge Hall's base was located in the two-kilometer-long canyon.
The canyon region had steep mountains on either side. There was only a narrow winding pathway in the middle.
It was quite conceivable that Chaos Edge Hall's base would certainly be heavily guarded.
Even if Li Yao could somehow break through the encirclement in the jungle, he would still have to forcibly rush through the two-kilometer-long canyon.
There was no other way!
More importantly, according to the enactment, although the Chaos Edge Hall and Iron Fist Club were rivals who were absolutely irreconcilable, as Li Yao was a notorious evil expert and was also carrying a jade chip for which each side would stop at nothing...
Li Yao would become the priority target of 2,000 members from both the Chaos Edge Hall and the Iron Fist Club. Therefore, without acquiring the jade chip first, both sides would not open fire for sure. Maybe they would even collaborate to search for his whereabouts.
"It is indeed a thousand times more difficult!"
Li Yao was having a hell of a headache.
Slowly rubbing his temples, Li Yao researched the map over and over again.
The layout of Yellow Wind Ridge was shaped like an ellipse. The base of both Iron Fist Club and Chaos Edge Hall were located on the two tapered ends of the ellipse respectively.
And according to the victory conditions for them, after having taken the jade chip from Li Yao, they would have to return to their own base while also facing the pursuit of their rivals. They would then have to insert the jade chip into a static-type crystal processor for one hour.
During this period, if their base camp was attacked by other side and the jade chip was pulled out, then the countdown would start over again.
The only advantage for Li Yao was that he was allowed to use magical equipment.
However, all magical equipment must be included in the magical equipment list specified by the Institute. He absolutely couldn't use some extremely brutal magical equipment like "Hellfire-Lightning".
Of course, he still had five days to modify the magical equipment specified in the list.
However, apart from the blade, the carried magical equipment eventually had to be able to fit inside a standard military jungle backpack.
The explanation given by the institute was also quite reasonableit was an escape, not some goddamn war.
It was impossible for someone to carry a Six Barrel Rotary Cannon along with a huge case of ammunitions on his back along with ten Hellfire-Lightnings. After all, he would be running for his life, right?
More importantly, in complex terrain like jungles and swamps, where the line of sight was also impeded by a faint mist, "masterwork weapons" like the Six Barrel Rotary Cannon would simply be nothing more than iron scraps, which only served to slow him down and make him a bigger target.
Even if the rules allowed it, Li Yao would never even want to carry heavy machine guns while he was running for his life in a jungle. This was simply courting death.
"All I can carry is magical equipment that can fit inside a standard military jungle backpack, and all of the magical equipment must be chosen from the specified list. Even though I can modify, I only have five days?!"
"It seems that earning 10,000 credits at once is as hard as climbing the sky!"
Just when he was ruminating and wracking his brain, Ding Lingdang sent him a spiritual crane message.
"Ha, I just applied and became the Institute's liaison with the Starfire Union for this tournament. My dear Starfire Union president, the extremely dangerous 'evil expert', Student Li Yao, do you have any questions regarding the rules of this tournament?"
"If you have any doubts, I'llanswer. If you have any request, I will forward it to the Institute. However, the victory conditions are already set. There will be no further changes!"
Ding Lingdang said with a mischievous laugh.
She seemed to be enjoying Li Yao's crushed appearance.
Li Yao turned a deaf ear. His eyes seemed to be transfixed as he supported his cheeks. Apparently, he was deep in thought. He pondered for a long time, and only after Ding Lingdang had yawned a couple of times did he suddenly say:
"Sister Ling, since the match is a simulation of an actual combat scenario and I'm playing the role of a meticulous evil expert who has infiltrated the enemy camp for ten years, then should I not be like a spy? If so, then in accordance with my identity, can I mention some requirements that tally with common sense?"
Ding Lingdang was surprised for a moment. She pouted her pink lips:
"Tell me the specifics, but I will not let you take advantages of any loopholes!"
Li Yao slightly smiled as the depths of his eyes twinkled. Stretching a finger, he said:
"First of all, since I've used a jade chip to steal the core secrets of Iron Fist Club, then should this jade chip not be provided by me?"
Ding Lingdang pursed her lips as she spoke in proud and self-satisfied manner:
"Ha, I figured that you would want to mess with the jade chip. Alright, you can provide the jade chip, but it must be one of five most common jade chips specified on the magical equipment list. Moreover, you have to hand over the jade chip a day before the match so that the Institute can inspect it. Only after that will the special telepathic thoughts that will represent the core secrets of the Iron Fist Club be inputted."
"More importantly, you can neither tamper with the telepathic thoughts stored inside the jade chip nor carry out any disruptive modifications on the jade chip. You must ensure that the jade chip is the most common jade chip found in the cultivation world. Let me put it in simple termsthe jade chip should be such that any person could recognize it at first glance!"
"You are dumbfounded, right?"
"Do you think that the Institute would not foresee your little trick?"
"Do you think that you can grab 10,000 credits under the eyes of 2,000 members of the Iron Fist Club and Chaos Edge Hall so easily?! Don't forget that this sister was the former president of Iron Fist Club. How could I watch your treacherous plan succeed!"
"Just wait a few days, then this sister will be free and will accompany you to hunt in the northern regions, okay!?"
Li Yao remained unmoved. He stretched out his second finger:
"Second, according to the rules, I can only use the magical equipment from the list. I think that's not fair. I think that as a meticulous spy, I should have already predicted that I will have to flee; therefore, it is quite reasonable to say that I would have crafted one or two life-saving pieces of magical equipment in advance. So I request that I be allowed to use a special magical equipment, the magical equipment crafted by me."
Li Yao tapped his left ear: "I want to use the Demon Beast Detector. This is just a field survival-type auxiliary-class magical equipment. It doesn't have any attack capabilities, and it is also not going to explode. The Institute can confirm it with my teacher."
Ding Lingdang tilted her head as she thought a bit before she nodded and said:
"Alright, this requirement is not too excessive. It is indeed in line with a spy's behavior. The Institute should agree."
"However, is this thing really so good? Is this thing the reason why you could gather so many credits recently? When are you going to craft one for your sister to play with?"
Li Yao chuckled:
"It is still in combat trials as there are some minor problems waiting to be solved. The detection speed of the demon beasts can also be improved a bit. Once I have resolved all the flaws, I'll definitely craft a special version just for Sister Ling. Rest assured!"
Having said that, Li Yao raised his third finger:
"Third, I need the concrete details of all 2,000 participants from the Iron Fist Club and Chaos Edge Hall, including their strength, the martial arts they are specialized in, and their combat videos. I need all of their information."
A frown crept upon Ding Lingdang's face:
"What do are you planning? This is cheating, right?"
Li Yao shook his head:
"I beg to differ, I think that it is perfectly reasonable."
"Because I am an evil expert who has infiltrated the Iron Fist Club for almost a decade and is also a meticulous spy, over these years, I must have gathered information on a lot of the Iron Fist Club's experts, and as Chaos Edge Hall is the biggest enemy of Iron Fist Club, the information on their clansmen should also be within my scope of investigation."
"Even if I don't have the information of all the experts, at the very least, I should be well aware of some hundred top experts of each side, otherwise it will not be in accordance with the character setting."
"Furthermore, this info is not some top secret information. All the students cultivate openly in their day to day life. What martial technique courses they have chosen can also be found out, and many people like posting their combat videos to show off. As long as I have some time to gather information, even I could figure everything out."
"However, at present, time is very pressing, so I need the Institute to gather this information for me, that's all."
"However, if I was truly an evil expert who had infiltrated for a decade, I could have calmly collected every piece information over these years, maybe even be perfectly clear of which expert got a hernia too!"
Ding Lingdang stared at him suspiciously:
"Listening to you, your request does sound reasonable, but why do I always feel that there is some kind of conspiracy!?"
Li Yao curled his lips:
"Of course there is a conspiracy. If there was no scheme, would I really tussle with 2,000 robust fellows!"
Having contemplated for a moment, Ding Lingdang nodded:
"Alright, at least you've persuaded me. I will do everything I can do get them for you from the Institute. Are there any more requirements?"
"There is one last thing."
Li Yao slowly raised his thumb:
"Since the Thunderbolt Cup is a tournament which determines the allocation of next years resources, does that mean that if I am somehow lucky enough to win the match, the Refining Department will get more resources than the Combat Department?"
Ding Lingdang sucked in a cold lump of air:
"Do you really think you can win?"
"But of course."
Li Yao said, "I'll fight it out and will win!"
Five days later, under the dark sky before dawn.
The 1st Generation Tai'e Crafting Furnace in the refining room without any lights seemed like a pitch black jungle of steel.
Sitting in the Lotus position, Li Yao rested in the deepest part of this seemingly steel jungle.
In the darkness, even his fingers that were arms apart weren't visible. All one could see was a weak red light which seemed to be emitted by the Demon Beast Detector. It was operating at high-speed, giving his left eye a dangerous appearance.
After five hours, the All-Freshmen Interdepartmental Thunderbolt Cup would begin!