Edited by bbkgs
Like every morning for the past fourteen years, Chen Chang Sheng woke up at five, used five seconds to calm himself, then got off the bed, dressed up, folded the quilts, and made the bed. In the dining room of the inn, he ate a bowl of duck porridge and four freshly made hot meat buns. He then returned to his bedroom, rinsed his mouth using the tea from last night, and dressed up before walking out into the yard.
–Now that he was no longer in the small temple at Xi Ning Village. He didn’t have to chop firewood and deliver water. Facing the morning fog and light coming from far away, he closed his eyes and started to silently read the Scriptures of The Way. Until he felt refreshed and alert, his daily routine of the day was over. He walked out from the side door to the crowded and noisy street in the Capital.
He had a roster in his hand. On the roster were the names of some schools in the Capital. After getting the addresses from the market manager, he walked faster. He didn’t notice that there was a wagon following him. He didn’t see that the horse possessed unicorn blood, and of course, he didn’t notice the bloody phoenix emblem on the wheel.
Long ago, The Heavenly Tomes descended upon the world. Humans were enlightened, and developed countless teachings, but all the change originated from one point. The classics and scrolls that were written in the past all traced the source of the change. Agriculture, industry, business, and education were all included. Now, publicly, the most authoritative evaluation to these was the annual Grand Examination
The Grand Examination was initiated by the first emperor of Zhou, Emperor Taizu. Whether to become a government official, military general, or even a priest in the Orthodoxy, the grade from the Grand Examination was the most important criterion. Most importantly, Emperor Taizu declared that only the top three grades had the right to enter the Mausoleum of Books. Because of this rule, each year, countless elites would come to the Capital. During the year of the first Grand Examination, Emperor Taizu stood on the wall to look at the geniuses from various sects on the continent who came in. He smiled and then spoke a line which is not only famous today but also established the status of the Grand Examination.
In the Southern countries, the powerful sects, such as the Longevity Sect, were extremely dissatisfied with this rule. To them, even though the Mausoleum of Books was at the Capital of Zhou, the Heavenly Tomes were divine rocks that had fallen from heaven and should be the commonwealth of the entire continent. Therefore, the South had attempted to resist the Grand Examination for many years, making the relationship between the two sides tense.
The Mausoleum of Books was too important to cultivators. Even though the Zhou Dynasty was very strong, it still could not monopolize it. The South, on the other hand, also could not resist the lure to enter the Mausoleum to see the stela. Even after the demons were defeated, the South still tried to resist the Grand Examination publicly. Even though the South tried to resist, there were many elites that traveled from the South to take the exam in private.
After the Divine Empress came to power, the Zhou Dynasty eventually formed an agreement with the South. The Southern sects and countries were allowed to freely send out diplomatic corps to participate in the Grand Examination. To make it fairer, the evaluation was based on both sides. Moreover, the southern students did not have to accept titles and rewards from the Zhou Dynasty. The test takers will all be treated equally. After many years, the examinations got a brand new name: Grand Examination.
In many years, the Grand Examination selected countless elites. It’s known that the strongest elites on the continent had all traveled to the Zhou Capital and participated in the Grand Examination. Other well known facts were: the current Pope of the Orthoxy and the Elder of the south’s Holy Maiden Peak were once winners of the Grand Examination. Not to mention, some geniuses from the West’s yao race transformed themselves as humans and came to participate in the Grand Examination. Even for the demon race, there was a Prince who took the risk to come and participate. His identity was detected by the former Pope and exorcised into ashes.
Those were stories from many years ago. Now, what people were more concerned about was, in next year’s Grand Examination. Would Qiu Shan Jun from the Longevity Sect attend? How many of the Seven Laws would get into the First Grading? Would Xu You Rong break through her stage early and leave Holy Maiden Peak to return to the Capital? Would the cold and mysterious genius elite on the demon’s wild plains appear in front of people for the first time? Or would he continue to violently chase and kill more demons? People in the Capital also cared about how many outstanding geniuses from all the schools in the Capital will show up this year.
Yes, there are many schools in the Capital. The Divine Empress held power. Under her strict rule, the government officials were candid and efficient. (TL: Yea sure… look at the Xu family please >.> they are totally candid…) People’s lives gradually improved. In these decades, The Empire was in a golden age. Multiple schools appeared like the bamboo shoots in spring after raining. Indeed, in recent years there were many private schools that were taught by the elites from the Orthodoxy. Their goal was to aim specifically for the Grand Examination. Of course, the most famous and influential schools were still the ones with the longest history. Among them, two of the schools were even established earlier than the Zhou Dynasty.
On Chen Chang Sheng’s roster were six schools, the Heavenly Academy he was currently walking to was on the top of the list. In fact, even among the entire continent, Heavenly Academy could be ranked highly — In the recent two hundred years, students from Heavenly Academy have obtained 1st place in the Grand Examination a total of twenty four times. The students of Heavenly Academy were all very talented. The school nurtured many important priests for the Orthodoxy, and educated countless cultivators for many sects. More importantly, the current Pope of the Orthodoxy was a past student of Heavenly Academy.
Heavenly Academy had the best record, so it was the hardest to get into, but there were still many taking the entrance exam. Chen Chang Sheng walked to the entrance of Heavenly Academy. Looking at the gate and looking at the name written by the first emperor of the Zhou Dynasty, Emperor Taizu, he naturally felt a yearning to attend the school. Almost immediately, such a feeling was crushed due to the smell of sweat and ink. Subconsciously, he looked down.
When he left Xi Ning Village, he had already calculated the time. The time he arrived at the Capital coincided with the days the schools were recruiting students. He also expected that the number of people taking the exam would be large, but he didn’t expect it to be a horrifying number. Especially when he looked at the young men who stood crookedly, looking lazy, and pointing at the crowd; he felt extremely uneasy.
Those young men wore the same style of attire. The clothes were mostly black and tied with a golden belt. That should be the uniforms of Heavenly Academy. Chen Chang Sheng knew that the people in line were the students who failed to pass the entrance exam at the beginning of the year. These people were usually full of themselves but now they were embarrassed due to their failure. They didn’t show any good attitudes toward the test takers. Looking at the mocking expression in their eyes, Chen Chang Sheng lowered his head even more.
The act of lowering his head wasn’t due to fear, but rather, was due to his slight mysophobia. Whether mentally or physically he didn’t want to smell the sweat, nor hear the insulting words of the crowd.
“Just look at that idiot, looking like a pig. Why would he stick a fan into his collar? Does he think he is Prince Huan Yu? Why didn’t he think that his fat neck will break the fan?”
“True, his steps seem to be soft and unsteady. He’s probably only completed Purification for two months. How does he dare come to the entrance exam of Heavenly Academy when he hasn’t set the groundwork for the Purification Stage? Where does he think he is? Orthodox Academy? Hilarious…..I don’t understand what these idiots are thinking of, do they really think they can read and understand all the Scriptures of The Way with such a weak spirit and mind?”
“Read and understand all the Scriptures of The Way? Even the book worm, Gou Han Shi, doesn’t dare to say he’s accomplished that. You guys may sympathize with the troubles those idiots are going to endure, but I feel bad for their parents. Embarrassing themselves may be bad, but the money they wasted earlier can’t be refunded. If I was the parent of that idiot pig, I would use the money to buy some pills and have him lose some weight so that he can at least find a wife to marry.”
“So what if he found a wife to marry? The Han Mei Pill can only cure one person. If he has seventeen sons and daughters in the future, all of them will be as fat and stupid as he is. Is taking care of a litter of pigs a good thing?”
These students were laughing among themselves and recklessly commenting on the people taking the entrance exam. Their words were unbearable and they didn’t control their volume. They actually wanted to be heard by the people they insulted. The face of the fat kid who got bullied turned bright red but he dared not to resist because everything the students said were true. He had just reached Purification ten days ago and probably had no chance to enter Heavenly Academy, but the most important point was that even if he did enter the academy, he wouldn’t dare to mess with these seniors.
Chen Chang Sheng walked through the crowd and heard the unbearable conversation. He raised his eyebrows slightly and thought, if he was to be the one those students were commenting on, he didn’t know if he could endure such insults. But luckily his head was low and his presence was ordinary. No one noticed him in the sea of people. He successfully passed the inky jade door and entered the school.
Because he was thinking about other things and his head was low, he didn’t notice that the two big stone walls, next to the entrance of Heavenly Academy, had a few hundred names carved on them. It seemed like a list of some sort. Many desperate and admiring eyes were observing the names.
The family members and servants following the students taking the entrance exam weren’t allowed into Heavenly Academy, therefore, after the students entered the school the environment suddenly became spacious. Chen Chang Sheng took out a clean white handkerchief from his pocket and swiped the sweat off his face. He took deep breaths to calm himself before he advanced. Following the student in front of him, he got to the back of the long line.
The number of people taking the entrance exam were countless. The line was so long that it looked like the Hundred Yard Snake from western mythology. The line stretched from the far away building all the way to the grassfield in front of Chen Chang Sheng. There was even a beautiful brook between the two locations. Many students who were taking the entrance exam stood on the wooden bridge on top of the brook. The cold wind of early spring blew into their faces and they were chilled by the coolness.
Soon enough, there were people coming out of the building and all of them were young men and young girls.They were just as expressionless as the people standing on top of the bridge due to the cold air. But since they weren’t being blown at by the cool wind, it was probably due to their bad results. The people who were still in line became nervous after seeing their terrible expressions and stopped chatting with each other.
Since Chen Chang Sheng didn’t know anyone, he didn’t chat with anyone. He looked at the far away building curiously. The only thing he cared about right now was the entrance exam of Heavenly Academy. Was it still conducted the same way as stated in the books? Why did the people who fail back out so quickly? Has the exam of Heavenly Academy actually changed?
The crowd kept on moving forward. After passing the grassfield and the brook, Chen Chang Sheng arrived at a bamboo scaffold. Looking at the teacher who had a serious expression sitting behind the stone desk, Chen Chang Sheng saw a black stone fragment on the table, He realized the identity of the item. Remembering an old event that occurred in the Tao Scroll, he was slightly stunned.