Minor edits by bbkgs
This time Chen Chang Sheng successfully entered the official entrance exam of Star Taker Academy. Except this time, it wasn’t cold and mocking eyes that welcomed him like at Heavenly Academy but rather, hopeful and caring smiles from the students and the teachers from Star Taker Academy. He felt warm and happy with the first encounter and was determined to be accepted.
Different schools in the Capital desire different things from their students. Heavenly Academy relies heavily on Classical Teaching and talent on cultivation. Compared to them, Star Taker Academy cared less about cultivation. The Zhou Military always believed that cultivation is something to worry about after entering the schools. What the military actually care about was the student’s manner and discipline. Therefore the number of testing question was less than that of Heavenly Academy’s. On the other hand, Star Taker Academy had a strict requirement on the testing format and penmanship. In addition, the context of the questions was mostly about creating simulations and strategy on the battlefield.
If Chen Chang Sheng had any talent, his most valuable talent was the thousands of books and literature he memorized from cover to cover. Just like the test for Heavenly Academy, after opening the exam, the first question he saw looked familiar . The three thousand ways include tens of thousands images, this sentence contained no error. It covered countless teachings, of course it included the military strategies and famous battles in history. It especially detailedly described the war between humans and demons. He remember those, obviously he wouldn’t answer them wrong.
Smoothly, Chen Chang Sheng finished the exam and left with the other students to the building of rules. They waited for the final result to come out. Standing by the legendary beast who represented the solemn Zhou military ruling, he recalled what was on the test. After ascertaining that there should be no problem for him getting into the Star Taker Academy, he relaxed a bit. Then at the corner he saw that Yao race youngster who now looked somewhat sad. Chen Chang Sheng friendly stood on tiptoe and tapped his shoulder to show comfort – obviously, this Yao youngster didn’t know much about human’s military strategies therefore he couldn’t have done too well.
The sun was about to fall and red beams of light was shining down upon the iron fence that stood on the building of rulings. The scene created a mysterious feeling to the surrounding and the crowd. Chen Chang Sheng stood under the light and looked at the empty wall. His immature face was filled with happiness and expectation for a bright future.
Yet he didn’t know that later on what would come was still bitter disappointment.
The Zhou military officer, who supervised the primary lifting stone exam, and another serious looking officer stood in front of a desk, questioning. They both looked directly at a mid-aged General. The first military officer’s face was strangely red because he could barely suppress his anger.
That mid-aged General was expressionless. His eyebrows looked like two ink silkworms. He had a serious face but it was without anger. Listening to his subordinates’ angry question, he slightly frowned and said “Is this your attitude when asking your superior?”
The two officers paused after hearing this. One of them pointed to the sun outside and said “Even though only two of us saw that test paper, there are other co-workers who are concerned about that student named Chen Chang Sheng. My attitude right now is wrong, but if others knew the results, they will ask the same question as well.”
The mid-aged General replied, “He is only a regular youngster who didn’t even successfully purify, why do you take him so seriously?”
That officer angrily stepped up and pointed at the test paper that was already crumbled into garbage. He said, “You also saw that test paper. You of all people should understand clearly. In recent decades, among the students that took the entrance exam, there was never such a perfect test paper. From standard questions to battle analysis, there was no mistake at all. Not a single miswritten character or even a slightly thicker stroke! Yes, that kid probably can’t become a strong General like you, but he can definitely become one of the best military advisers!”
The mid-aged General remained silent for a while before he replied. “This is a command from the Imperial Palace, I don’t need to give you any explanation.”
That officers were shocked after heard the reply. After a while he woke up and said with a slightly deeper voice, “But….I need to give that kid an explanation.”
The mid-aged General looked up and give him a look. “Call him over, I will give him an explanation.”
Chen Chang Sheng walked into the severe and strict building. Looking at the fire on the desk, Chen Chang Sheng remained silent. His fists gradually tightened up. His face became slightly pale, not sure if it was because of exhaustion or anger or even both. When he looked at the wall, it didn’t have his name on it. He was extremely angry and even angrier than he was yesterday when he encountered supercilious looks and contempts.
Because he had great hopes on entering Star Taker Academy, he was happy, but all his hope transformed into disappointment the moment he saw the admittance announcement. All his effort up until now seemed to have become a joke. Why did these events happen?
He wanted an explanation.
The mid-aged General who sat behind the desk said he would give him an explanation. He knew what it would be.
The mid-aged General stood up, like a beast staring at a rabbit. The look he gave Chen Chang Sheng was cold but the word he spoke was the word sorry.
“As a Zhou soldier, I have to violate my own principle, so sorry.”
“My action will affect Star Taker Academy’s reputation, so sorry.”
“You have talent and a bright future. You are only a kid, but I have to temporarily hinder your future, sorry.”
“I can’t tell you why, sorry.”
“But I think you will know the reason quickly. So, I wish you can give me a chance to correct myself.”
After Chen Cheng Sheng finished hearing the apologies, he remained silent for a while. Then he turned and left.
At five o’clock in the morning on the second day, Chen Chang Sheng woke up punctually, like yesterday and everyday for the past fourteen years. He cleaned up and dressed up. He calmed down and obtained a clear mind before he left the inn and continued his intended school path.
According to the roster’s order, he went to the next two schools. What he encountered at Heavenly Academy and Star Taker Academy obviously made him upset and unhappy, but he was the one who treasures time the most in the world. He didn’t want to waste time on useless anger and regret. He only wanted to use time for valuable reasons, such behavior sometimes gave people an impression of extreme determination.
The experiences yesterday didn’t seem to influence him at all. He prepared seriously and carefully took the tests. He used the knowledge in his brain and determined spirit. He successfully passed the two schools’ entrance exams. Based on the content of the test, he felt that he should be able to pass successfully, but he didn’t make it. It didn’t seem to surprise him anymore.
With the experiences from the previous two schools, Chen Chang Sheng did not feel that disappointed anymore. In another word, he already felt numb.
He understood clearly, there were people interfering behind his back. Who were those people……this answer was also very clear.
At evening, he walked out of the fourth school and finally saw that carriage from the Divine General’s Estate for the first time. He saw the dark but clear blood phoenix emblem on the wheel. The owner of the carriage stopped it in front of the school intentionally to let him see it.
Chen Chang Sheng saw the carriage and understand that the answer was about to come.
Even though he had already guessed the answer, the feeling of directly obtaining the answer was somewhat different.
A mid-aged woman walked down the wagon.
“You are only a child …. you don’t deserve to let the Divine General’s Estate do these things to you.”
The mid-aged woman walked up to him and said expressionlessly. “Yet we still did these things because we worried that you were too young to have a clear understanding of the situation. As a result we seriously demonstrated the strength of the clan to let you see for yourself. Now you should understand clearly. As long as we disagree, you will have no future in Zhou.”
Chen Chang Sheng remembered her from the Divine General’s Estate. She was the first person he saw. He gave a gesture of greeting and stood straight without saying a word.
The mid-aged woman felt surprised. She didn’t expect that Chen Chang Sheng could still have such calmness. So calm that he didn’t even forget to give her a greeting. His actions would truly make people feel dumbfounded and even uneasy.
“You should clearly know what we want… If you agree, then what we took from you will be returned to you. Heavenly Academy, Star Taker Academy, Temple Seminary …. you can choose where you want to attend. You can choose which teacher you want to follow. You can choose to join the military or enter the Orthodoxy or become an official in the government… All of these thing you can get and choose.”
The mid-aged woman looked at him and said seriously “But if you disagree, the experiences you had in the last two days will become scenes repeated over and over again in your life.”
Chen Chang Sheng still remained silent and did not speak a word.
The mid-aged woman continued “You are a smart man, you should know clearly how to choose.”
Chen Chang Sheng looked at her and finally spoke his first sentence. “Senior had written in his notes, ‘a smart person will live unhappily, so people should live pretending to be unaware.’ ”
The mid-aged woman smiled and replied. “Yet you are truly clever. You didn’t tell the engagement to anyone…otherwise you would be dead already.”
Chen Chang Sheng finally confirmed that in the past two days, the Divine General of the Eastern Decree’s Estate had always kept an eye on him.
The mid-aged woman said, “Of course, don’t misunderstand…..what I said previously was only a possibility. Under the eyes of the Divine Empress, the Divine General’s Estate will always follow the laws. It has never bullied anyone and will only help people. We only need you to give up something…..what you were originally prepared to give up before. We can then help you to gain much more.”
What he had originally prepared to give up was obviously the engagement.
Help you to gain much more. All these things were what he could obtain by himself.
Chen Chang Sheng suddenly felt, in comparison to the prosperous Capital, like he was behind the old temple. The mountain and forest that was filled with beasts was so safe and pretty.
He looked at that mid-aged woman and suddenly said “Nanny, did I do anything wrong?”
The mid-aged woman was shocked. She did not know how to reply.
She had lived in the Capital for more than a hundred years. She had watched her Lady marry into Xu Mansion. She watched her Lady’s husband fight for a better future countless times. She was used to government high officials and strong cultivators cheating on each other. But never had she ever heard such words. It was a seemingly immature question, but it was hard to answer.
So she couldn’t and didn’t answer.