Volume 2 Chapter 6: The four letter word

As Xiaoxia is almost 8 feet tall, it did not occur to the girls that he was younger than he looks. Usually in the world of Yuan Zhong, men of the racial beings, would have only grown to around seven feet at the end of puberty which is around 13 years old.

They will still continue to grow, albeit slowly and reached about 8 feet by the time they are in their early twenties. Hence the girls always thought Xiaoxia to be around that age, despite his youthful and boyish appearance.

Since they presumed he was around that age, it came as somewhat of a huge shocke when he wrote his details down for the registration.

Even the registration clerk, was a little surprise he was joining. This is because, children in the world do not graduate until they are 15, and he was still 14. It meant to say he was either skipping classes or did not have proper education. But she still accepted it, seeing there was no stringent age requirements.

The only one who felt a little awkward was Carol. Including her, the girls are 19 years old, and it meant she was older than him by five years.

Although it may not seem like much as they grew older, but 5 years now at this tender age is a huge difference. It could be clearly seen in the naïve straightforwardness of Xiaoxia, who still have not experienced life as they have. This made Carol uncomfortable, due to what transpired earlier.

About two hours earlier, after Xiaoxia saved her from the fall, she started having an aching sensation in her heart whenever she saw him. She still refused to accept what it meant, and kept her usual façade when speaking with him.

The other girls knew better than to pursue that matter with her, even though it was quite obvious how she felt. Her actions and words may belie the fact she is starting to have feelings for Xiaoxia, but her eyes and facial expression couldn’t.

“You are only 14?! How are you so tall at 14?!” Carol exclaimed.

“I don’t know, I was born this way,” Xiaoxia was defending himself.

Jane and Cailing were their usual selves, as they giggled at the exchange of the two. While Meiling in the meantime looked a little worried.

For Xiaoxia to be so young, meant a few things.

“Zhen Xia, you have not graduated from school right?” she asked.

“No, I only spent a few months at the Academy of the Six Elements,” Xiaoxia replied.

“Don’t lie to us!” it was Carol who retorted.

All the four girls had incredulous looks on their face, and it is only natural. The Academy of the Six Elements is widely known as the best in the world of Yuan Zhong, and every year over tens of billions of children applied for it.

The acceptance rate is tiny, and out of the multitude, usually less than a million were chosen. Sometimes it went over that, but only on rare occasions.

“I am not, see,” Xiaoxia took out a prism device from his quantum bag and swiped it over the back of his right hand.

It still bore the hidden runic sigil of the Academy, which recorded all his information and details.  It began to glow and a hologram appeared out of the prism.

“Word! ‘S’ Class!” Cailing immediately reacted when she noticed it.

The other girls follow suit, their eyes falling on where the details were on the holographic image.

“But you did not finish it right? You said you were there only a few months. So if you still had that runic sigil and nothing else, means you ran away and never studied anymore!” Carol accused him, apparently recovery from the amazement before the rest.

While it was more or less true except for the last part, Xiaoxia did in fact had one of the best education money simply can’t buy. Gu Di may not looked like it, but being in his 28th millennium, he actually knew plenty of things, and taught them to Xiaoxia. On top of this, Jay was an instructor at the Academy as well.

To make it much better, the entire literature collection of Wuming were with Gu Di. They were all contained in quantum bags and similar devices. These book and scripts were collected over the aeons by Wuming, and many were rich in information not obtainable elsewhere.

“It is not a matter I can discuss, and I did studied after I left,” Xiaoxia responded, trying not to go into further details.

“Fine, but besides studies, are you actually trained? This competition is extremely dangerous, and may not be suitable for you. You may even die,” this time it was Meiling who spoke and asked.

The other two girls, Jane and Cailing were nodding their heads in sympathy behind her. They had puppy eyes looking at Xiaoxia, showing their concern he may actually die in the tournament.

“I may not be the best pugilist, but I am certain I can hold my ground when there is a need. I will not let you down, you will see in a weeks’ time,” he promised.

“So be it, we will meet you again then. Just do the usual when you arrive,” Meiling replied, referring to the door knock. The she waved and left.

The other three followed suit, and Carol was seen biting her lips as she left.

The sight of the girls leaving, made Xiaoxia feel a pang in his heart. A string of emotions settled on him when his eyes trailed Carol, as the group disappeared into the night. Sighing a little with regret, he turned and headed back to the hotel.

**********

“RISE AND SHINE!”

Gu Di’s loud morning greet reverberated in the entire suite.

“Hmmprggh,”

Xiaoxia was still sleepy even though he had slept for more than 10 hours that night. The time difference here was not so much different from where they had been. However he was having the best dream of his life, and being rudely awaken was not appreciated.

“Hmmm, what time is it?” he grumbled as he sat up on the bed and looked at Gu Di with squinted eyes.

Gu Di had unceremoniously pushed the curtains wide opened to let the sunlight in. This immediately brightened the dark room and caused Xiaoxia to squint.

“Time for breakfast and out first excursion! Come on hurry up, and don’t take your time to wash up. We need to leave as soon as possible!” Gu Di was rather excited when he said that.

According to the itinerary, the first business of the day was to get up bright and early and head to the mega volcano. There, they will spend a day languishing in one of the Onsen. It was situated around twenty thousand feet up on the slopes of the Volcano, unlike most of the others who were much lower.

This will be followed by three nights stay at the volcano’s resort in the crater, and its name was ‘Gateway to the Heavens’. Being the tallest volcano / mountain in the world, and the highest resort to ever be built at that elevation.

(AN: the volcano is over 70 thousand feet, and the resort is 20 thousand feet. This make it 50 thousand feet above sea level. Refer to Vol 2 Chapter 4 Zero to Hero)

“Where is Jay?” Xiaoxia asked, noticing Jay was not in his room.

The suite was not only the best in the hotel, it also have 5 individual bedrooms with full amenities in each.

“He left to grab breakfast at the hotel’s restaurant, and we are supposed to join him now. Stop delaying and go wash up and get dressed,” Gu Di mothered him, even as he was stuffing thing into his quantum bag.

It took only 5 minutes for him to wash up, and put on his usual tunic and pants. When he left the bath, and met Gu Di again, there was a frown on his face.

“I forgot, here these are for you. You should throw those away, since now we will be in proper civilization for the next 3 months,” Gu Di passed a set of clothes to Xiaoxia, while dumping more out from his other quantum bag.

All of them were shirts and shorts, similar to the fashion of the island. The shirts were what Gu Di called ‘T-Shirts’ and the shorts were ‘Beach shorts’ which had colored patterns and lines on them. Some of the shorts reached below his knees.

“And put these on, your feet will go rotten in those here,” Gu Di pointed to the pair of tanned hide shoes Xiaoxia was wearing, while passing him something he called ‘flops’ or ‘slippers’.

The humidity on the island was astounding, and only the constant breeze made it unnoticeable. However if a person still wear shoes here, the gathered humidity in it, will cause them to have foot rot. It is the result of fungi and mold which thrived in the heat and humidity contained in them.

After he hurriedly changes, they met Jay at the hotel’s restaurant, and Xiaoxia’s world at once seemed like heaven. The buffet spread was a smorgasbord of variety, and stretch for more than a hundred feet on large tables that was situated right in the middle.

There was a mountain of pastries and a wide selection of breads. Meat of many kinds were place on one  end, while seafood of all types were on the other. Cheese of many hues and colors were situated near the pastries, and there was also an uncountable variety of rich creamy jams and pastes.

Fresh fruits as well as vegetables were situated at the salad bar, which in itself did not lose to the variety of the others. The beverage area was just as amazing, and even ambience was great.

Xiaoxia immediately dove into the richness of the spread and grabbed all the food he could stuff onto a huge plate. Very soon, he was into his fifth helping and feeling a little bloated, when Jay and Gu Di finally asked him to stop.

“Here take this, it will help you digest and also nourish you,” Gu Di said while passing him a yellowish beverage.

It was chilled and had what looked like cubes of ice, and there were many tiny bubbles seemingly appearing out of nowhere in it.

The beverage went down really well, and it had a citrus taste to it. It is also really sweet and Xiaoxia drank it all in one gulp.

“Wow! What is this? It is really good!”  Xiaoxia exclaimed loudly.

Even at the Academy of the Six Elements, there wasn’t something like this. The multitude of restaurants there boasted one of the best crossed-culture cuisines in the world, and even then he have not tasted something like this.

“This is what the local people call peenaple juice,” Gu Di said, and went on to tell him of its origins.

Besides peenaple, the island boasted many flora and fauna unique to it. They were all rich in special Ki that had stellar nourishment values.

However, due to them being just enough for the nation’s own use, there was no export of it to other places. Even if there was, the cost to apply for a license to export them was astronomical. Hence only by visiting that area, could a person enjoy its taste.

“BURP!!”

Xiaoxia immediately closed his mouth after letting that out, and while he was embarrassed doing it in front of the entire restaurant, it made him felt much better and no longer bloated.

“Haha, come lets relax for a bit after all the food we ate,” Jay said, as he let them off to another spot location in the hotel.

It was a small café, tucked right in the corner that only catered to CIPs of the hotels. Jay found this earlier when he left the room.

(AN: CIP = commercially important persons)

“A pot of hot Macha with some cookies please,” Gu Di ordered, being familiar with it, since unlike Jay who found it earlier, he has been here before.

A clay pot with a familiar greenish liquid in it was served to them. It was the liquid that Gu Di usually served them after each meal.

“This is called Macha, it is basically made from a leaves of a special plant. It promotes longevity and is known to cure certain ailments of the body,” Gu Di further informed them.

They spent about half and hour there as their food digested, and immediately headed out to the Onsen. Gu Di had made prior arrangements for them to soak in its hot springs.

They arrived in good time and even before the appointed time, and it was a beautiful sight. The Onsen  was huge and easily cover a few hundred hectares.

Steam can be seen rising everywhere, even as snow came down alongside the springs. At the altitude of 20,000 feet, the entire area was blanketed in snow and ice.

Upon entering the main structure, they were ushered off to private changing rooms. Here, according to Gu Di, they had to strip and cover themselves with a towel and make their way to the spring pools.

It did not come as a shock, when Xiaoxia saw one end of the pool occupied by another group, who consisted only of women. Gu Di have mentioned this to them earlier.

The group of women were all nude, however the steam rising from the hot spring obscured anyone in it.

This was in fact welcomed by Xiaoxia, as he did not feel good when it comes to women and their exposed skin.

Soaking himself into the hot spring, he felt the soothing waters ease away the tension of his body. It was a surreal sensation, as he did not know his body was that tensed.

As he let the sensation overcome him, his mind began to wander, and it always contained the image of a redhead girl, with white porcelain skin, and big brown eyes.

He knew it is not a simple feeling, and it was more like the four letter word type.

He is in LOVE!

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