author: Yi Shi Si Zhou (一十四洲）
editor: sleepingjay, milaryn
According to Bai Xiaosheng’s explanation, the tasks in the Shangling Examination were numerous and tedious, such as the policy essays and articles for the Confucian School, and the observation of each examinee’s natural talent in controlling spiritual energy and their grasp and comprehension of martial arts techniques for the Cultivation School. The tests of the Skills School were even harder to pull off: one had to concoct magic pills in a furnace and stargaze on the spot… There were many tests, and all of them were different. Yet the number of registrants for the Shangling Examination was high. If it were to be diligently assessed, who knew how much manpower, materials, and time it would use up. In order to solve this problem, the Shangling Academy brought together all of the power of the Southern Xia’s spell array users and specially created a “Shangling Dreamscape” spell array.
After the activation of the spell array, every person would be pulled into the dreamscape. All of the Academy’s tests were held in the Shangling dreamscape whether it was the Shangling Examination or the biannual evaluations.
—This was actually a simulated test.
Lin Shu’s heart hammered against his ribs and he quickly turned to the next page.
The next page was the sequential description of the Confucian School’s section of the Shangling Examination, so Lin Shu flipped several more pages and came to the Cultivation School’s section.
The test was split into three portions and, once explained, was very easy to understand.
The first test: to conjure from nothing a tree thick enough to wrap one’s arms around and to raise a hundred-meter-tall platform from a pile of earth. Cultivation required one first to focus and cultivate their qi.
All the apprentices would sit and meditate in the Shangling Dreamscape. First, they had to circulate their qi throughout their whole body to the 720 acupoints. After that, the Dreamscape would arbitrarily assign several acupoints and automatically select a path between them in the meridians. The apprentice would circulate their qi all around their body through this path a total of five times. Afterwards, the Dreamscape would add barriers to clog the meridians and acupoints. The candidate must then choose whether to break through, or to circumvent the blockage by trying their best to circulate their qi around their entire body given the blocks in place.
Test two: the Way, the way that is not the Way, and the way that is not not the Way—to cultivate the immortal path, one must first understand the Way.
This test was purely measuring the depth of the candidates’ comprehension. The Dreamscape would select 20 fundamental quotations from the classics and the student would then explain their understanding of the phrase. After that, the Dreamscape would pull two people with differing viewpoints on the same quotation into the same dreamscape. The two must then hold a discussion on the Dao in that dreamscape.
We’re sorry for MTLers or people who like using reading mode, but our translations keep getting stolen by aggregators so we’re going to bring back the copy protection. If you need to MTL please retype the gibberish parts.
Test three: at the lowest level of martial arts, one is only highly skilled. At the middle level of martial arts, one becomes a sage. At the highest level of martial arts, one achieves the Dao. Martial arts and the Dao cannot be distinguished from each other.
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After outlining the third test, Bao Xiaosheng continued to explain. His general point was that these three tests were exceptionally hard, but the Academy’s real intention was not to have candidates complete these three tests perfectly, but to use these tests as a pretext to observe each student’s natural talent and comprehension. As long as the first test went smoothly, if one had some outstanding moments in any part of the latter two arbitrary tests, it was definitely possible to pass the Shangling Examination and enter the Academy.
That was to say…… the “natural talent” the entire Shangling Examination was based on was natural talent in the realm of the mystic arts and not natural talent as dictated by physics?
—True, they definitely didn’t need to inspect physical talent because it would be impossible for those whose meridians were sluggish and impassable to gather and circulate their qi around their body, no matter how many pictures of acupoints they looked at or how much of the Qi-Cultivation Classic they memorized. After arriving in the dreamscape, they would naturally be unable to baselessly imagine any methods to use.
The Shangling Dreamscape was a fantasy land.
That was to say, while he was there, he would not have any restrictions from that body of his.
For others, if their meridians were innately impassable, no amount of strategizing would let them pass the first test.
But the meridians of his body in his previous life were already something that could not even be described as ‘unobstructed’ and ‘clear.’ He didn’t know how many hundreds of times, day and night, he had circulated his qi through the 720 acupoints: commanding his qi to course through his meridians quickly and to course through slowly, commanding it to smoothly course through and to sharply course through. He had already become intimately familiar with how to circulate his qi through each particular path and section of his meridians. The content tested by the first test was as easy for him as drinking a cool glass of water.
However, it was the second test that made him feel suffocated. For him, who frequently had trouble speaking even normal, every-day phrases, he feared that discussing the Dao with someone was a fantasy comparable to The Arabian Nights. Yet according to Bai Xiaosheng, it would not be hard for him to enter the Shangling Academy—after all, he had the foundation from his previous life.
In short, who needed to refine freaking pills, it’d be okay for him to directly enter the Cultivation Academy. Not only would the Shangling Examination not be a problem, he didn’t even need to worry about any of the Academy tests, either.
The only problem was how to explain why he could pass the Shangling Examination when he was clearly unable to condense even a drop of spiritual power and could not kill even a chicken.
Li Jimao and Li Yamao attentively watched Lin Shu. Seeing him expressionlessly staring at the cover of the book for a very, very long time, they couldn’t help but utter, “Lin-xiongdi?”
Lin Shu slowly released a breath and said, “Let’s go.”
As the Shangling Examination was around the corner, the shopkeeper’s book store business was flourishing. Practically everyone who went there would buy many instruction manuals. Seeing these three people buying only a thin volume, the owner was very unsatisfied in his heart. As he watched them walk away, he fumed, “Pah! Test-failing trash!”
Lin Shu silently walked along.
Passing the exam was already no longer something he worried about.
He was afraid that he would pass, but everyone in the Academy would be suspicious over how on earth he was able to pass.
The tableau of his previous life, where his books and materials were thrown by others to the ground, suddenly floated before his eyes. It made him want to vomit.
After returning, he didn’t do anything other than try his darndest to use his meager language to teach Li Jimao and Li Yamao how to recognize the acupoints and how to condense and circulate qi. He also taught them the most basic sword forms of point, thrust, hack, chop, and sweep. With this knowledge, if they really had some innate talent for cultivation, they would naturally be chosen by the Academy.
Because of that, Li Jimao and Li Yamao had complete trust in and admiration for him, but Lin Shu felt more and more ill-at-ease.
Because of this, that night, he had an extraordinarily strange dream.
In the dream, he was again in that gloomy patch of wilderness outside of Minzhou City. He was wandering aimlessly alone when he heard a sudden burst of hurried steps behind him. Looking back, he saw that it was actually that Ling Baochen who he had met by chance previously.
Ling Baochen tugged on the corner of his clothing, her pretty face devoid of color. Her voice was completely helpless.
“Lin-shixiong,” Ling Baochen wept endlessly, “Young Miss was captured by the corpse king. I managed to escape, but I don’t know what to do…… Lin-shixiong was first place in the Shangling Examination and must have profoundly cultivated along with extremely high martial skills. You will definitely be able to save Young Miss.”
He didn’t know how to respond and was dragged along by Ling Baochen the whole way to the lair of the corpse king.
Ling Baochen pulled out a sword and gave it to him.
And he, wholly without spiritual power, drew the sword and glanced around himself blankly.
—And then the corpse king swatted at him and killed him in a single blow.
The last scene was of the Young Miss being strung up in midair by the corpse king. She coldly looked at his mangled, mutilated body: “Useless thing, I should’ve skinned you long ago.”
Lin Shu felt that he was held by the throat by Fate. After a quick spell of feeling suffocated, he opened his eyes.
There’s no way to go on like this.
The author has something to say:
Academy students socializing:
—How can he place first on every test when it’s obvious he can’t do anything???
—It’s definitely because the Young Miss is holding him up.
—Depend on the Young Miss, and avoid twenty years of struggles.
—Young Miss, carry me too?
Hello everyone, it’s Lanlan! I’m sorry I’ve been gone so long. I took a much longer break than I was anticipating due to unforeseen circumstances (I didn’t have WiFi for more than a week), but I’m back now and will hopefully be resuming more timely updates. I apologize for the long wait. This chapter is quite an info-dump, so I may put a guide up to the Shangling Examination if people want me to. I don’t think it’s something often revisited in this story, though, so it’s probably not too important in the grand scheme of this series. Many thanks for your patience and the patience of my editors and proofreader. Thank you all!!
Hello, everyone. Lanlan here. I am really sorry to announce that due to events in my personal life, I will no longer be able to keep up the 1-chapter-per-week minimum CG requires and am thus going on more-or-less permanent hiatus. N1PB will be put on hold until someone decides they want to take it up again.
Everything with me is okay, but I’m going back to school and will not have enough time to devote to N1PB as it deserves. I feel horrible starting a story and having to quit so early in the translating process, but I hope another translator (maybe CG, maybe not, who knows) will step up and take over.
I’m hoping to be able to come back after school, but who knows what CG or the danmei and webnovel translation landscape will look like in a few years. Thank you for all of your support and friendship over these past few months. I’ll still be around reading the stories in CG, so you might see my comments, but I will not be posting anymore (at least for the time being). And again, thank you all for the time you’ve invested in my stories, whether it be MGLR or N1PB.
Wishing you all the best,