AIP - Chapter 53: The Secret
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
Once Tang Jie had chosen his starting cultivation technique, Wei Tianchong finally made his choice.
The Lesser Sea Spiral Essence Mantra.
This mantra also established the Spirit Eye at the Lesser Sea point, but it didn't have any other special attributes. It was just that once one cultivated it, one would have a constant and long-term stream of spiritual energy, so it was more suitable for protracted battles.
The Lesser Sea served as the number one Spirit Eye location for the Basking Moon Sect, and most students would normally choose this point. Only a few students, who had specific requirements or goals, would take other paths.
The Lesser Sea Spiral Essence Mantra was the easiest of the Lesser Sea mantras.
In truth, Wei Tianchong simply wanted the best and easiest technique.
As for Shi Meng, he chose the Water Spring Reflection Mantra.
The Water Spring point favored nourishment and not battle. Those who cultivated this mantra often had long lives and could easily advance in cultivation, and when they used spells like the Returning Spring spell, the results would be better. Shi Meng was clearly set on increasing his cultivation level and not competing with anyone.
He had average aptitude, so he chose his technique in the hopes of advancing in cultivation. Many geniuses were too conceited and would often choose paths that weren't suitable for them, ending up even worse off than average people.
80% of the Rosecloud Domain's "good-for-nothing" Spirit Masters were like Shi Meng, including Spirit Master Lu. They sought easy and steady advancement.
In addition, the Water Spring Mantras actually did have the ability to control water and were suitable for studying Water element spells and arts. While the Lesser Sea Mantras also belonged to the element of Water, in those mantras, the Water element was used for tempering and not for application.
With the Water Spring Mantra as his foundation, Shi Meng would have a much easier time learning Water spells and arts that could be used to clean the house. He was probably also preparing for a life beyond that of endless servitude.
These mantras served as the foundation for cultivation. They could only be used to open the Spirit Eye, store energy, and lay a foundation, coming without any sort of spell or art. Only when one opened the Spirit Eye could one learn simple spells.
Once they were done choosing their mantras, the three of them rushed off to get food. Alas, everyone was ready this time and some people had managed to come even earlier. In the end, they didn't even get into the first hundred and could only settle for the coarse meal.
Wei Tianchong had no other choice than to buy some additional food. As he ate, he cursed, "When I finish cultivating the Spiral Essence Mantra and spiritual energy can freely flow through my body, I'll be as light as a swallow and definitely get here first!"
Shi Meng helplessly reminded him, "This will be rather difficult. In the future, we will probably have even less of a chance."
"Ah? Why is that?"
Tang Jie chuckled. "Because other people are also cultivating. But the biggest problem is that while the Spiral Essence Mantra provides a constant stream of energy and is good for long battles, it's lacking in explosiveness, so…"
Wei Tianchong understood without needing to hear the rest.
The Spiral Essence Mantra's strong point wasn’t speed, so in the future, whenever everyone was cultivating, if Wei Tianchong tried to compete in speed, he would definitely lose to those students who had chosen to specialize in speed. This meant that he probably wouldn't be able to get into the top one hundred again in the future.
This fact immediately made Wei Tianchong pale. He thumped his chest, hammered his head, and wailed, "If I had known, I would have chosen a mantra that increased my speed!"
Tang Jie bitterly smiled. The Lesser Sea Grotto Metal Mantra he had chosen and the Water Spring Reflection Mantra Shi Meng had chosen also did not specialize in speed. Thus, he could already imagine the sight of countless students flying forward while the three of them were left far behind in the back.
Suddenly, Tang Jie's eyes flashed, and he slapped the table and shouted, "I get it!"
All the students glanced at him while Wei Tianchong asked, "What did you get?"
Tang Jie chuckled and whispered, "Third Young Master, the various rules of Basking Moon Academy all have hidden meanings!"
"What are you talking about?"
"Apply your studies!" Tang Jie sternly said. "You have to frequently use the things you learn to become familiar with them and exhibit their might. Think about it. To eat good food and spend less time in line, the students will undoubtedly make a mad dash at every meal, and so they will probably use the Immortal arts they've learned. Isn't this sort of competition the best time to train? The effects would be much better than just burying your head and training alone!"
"Oh, I see!" Shi Meng and Wei Tianchong understood.
Tang Jie continued, "When I was researching the disciple rules, I found that the rules of this academy were rather strange. On one side, they encouraged competition, but on the other side, they were very strict in various ways, banning this or that, contradicting themselves in many ways. Although the Basking Moon Sect cares about the rules, these rules don't make sense. But if you look at it from the perspective of cultivation, all of these questions are cleared up. For example, this rule about cleaning your house. How do cultivators have time to clean up their home every day? That means you have to learn a cleaning spell, and though cleaning spells seem simple, since it has too many targets that it needs to be used on, you have to really focus on the subtlety of spiritual energy usage. Thus, you're practicing your control of spiritual energy. And despite this rule about not asking questions in class, during the day, I could hold signs up and the teachers didn't care. What does this mean? Talisman refining! With message talismans, we can communicate freely in class, saying anything we want. If you have the skill, you could even put up a sound-blocking formation. In short, Basking Moon Academy has made all these rules not just to teach us how to conduct ourselves as people, but also to put pressure on us to apply our studies!"
"Yes, I get it now," Shi Meng excitedly said, waving his fist.
"Then banning fights is also a test?" Wei Tianchong asked.
"Of course. It tests our ability to observe and see through concealment. If we have the ability to notice the monitors before they arrive, we can fight however they want. Of course, we can't kill anyone." Tang Jie exposed the secret with these words.
Basking Moon Academy emphasized the rules and did not permit any rule to be broken, but conversely, this also meant that if you had the ability, you could use that ability to break, work around, or even exploit the rules.
On one side, they kept to the rules, using all these various conventions to restrain everyone, and on the other side, they encouraged competition and bold advance. Only bold advance under this sort of large framework would keep everyone on track and ensure that they didn't step off the mountain and plunge into the abyss.
This was the goal of Basking Moon Academy. It was to have everyone realize what it meant when it was said, "The Immortal path is like a mountain road over which ten thousand people vie."
It took Tang Jie pointing it out for the two of them to finally understand.
"Then what happens if you can't do it?" Wei Tianchong asked.
"Then you obediently follow the rules." Tang Jie smiled. "If you don't have the skill, just be an obedient and reserved person. This is also something that Basking Moon Academy wants to tell us. But just like Teacher Xin said, they don't openly state many things, but show it in their actions. We have to understand the meaning of these actions ourselves."
"But that also means that I won't be able to eat spirit food in the future!" Wei Tianchong tearfully said. Tang Jie had said so much, but in the end, Wei Tianchong's real concern was food. The thought that he wouldn't be able to overcome others in speed left him grieving.
"Third Young Master doesn't need to worry about that. I think I know what to do." Tang Jie smiled.
"What sort of plan do you have?" Wei Tianchong was excited.
"Follow me after you're done eating."
After they were done eating, Tang Jie took Wei Tianchong and Shi Meng to Spirit Wonder Market.
Spirit Wonder Market was actually Basking Moon Academy's miscellaneous goods store. After all, the students needed to live here, so they needed a store to buy things from. Thus, it had opened a stall here where items that one needed for daily life were sold. There were even essential cultivation resources like magic tools, talisman paper, and spirit pills.
Wei Tianchong hadn't expected Tang Jie to bring them here. He asked, "What are we doing here?"
"Buying things, of course."
"But the stuff here isn't cheap."
"That depends on what you're buying," Tang Jie chuckled. He saw a stall in the distance that sold grains. There were all sorts of grains on display, including spirit grains.
Tang Jie walked over and laughed. "I was right. Young Master, look at the price."
Wei Tianchong looked over and saw that half a kilogram of refined rice was being sold for twenty copper coins. He said in shock, "So cheap?"
In truth, twenty copper coins was rather expensive for half a kilogram of rice. Outside, it would normally go for five to ten copper coins. But in Basking Moon Academy, where one bowl of rice went for one spirit coin, twenty copper coins for half a kilogram was practically free!
Tang Jie smiled. "Naturally. Basking Moon Academy is all about applying what you've studied, and Immortal arts can be applied to every part of one's life. If you try to buy ready-made food, you'll have to pay an astronomical price, but if you buy your own rice to cook, then the price will be much cheaper. But this still isn't enough…"
Tang Jie shouted, "Shopkeeper, might I ask if you sell seeds at this store?"
A middle-aged woman walked out of the store and warmly smiled at Tang Jie. "Little dear, you've asked an excellent question. My store does have seeds, not just for refined rice, but also for spirit grain."
The woman smiled. "The refined rice is sold at wholesale price, but the spirit grains differ according to quality. The cheapest goes for one spirit coin per tael."
"As expected." Tang Jie clapped his hands and laughed.
While buying rice to cook still made the store a small profit, buying the seeds would mean paying wholesale price, and when it came to spirit rice, it was actually even cheaper—one spirit coin per tael wasn't a price you could get outside.
But planting spirit rice took time, so before the harvest, one still needed to buy raw rice to cook for one's meals.
Tang Jie said, "This Basking Moon Academy wants us to do everything personally, to feel personal hardship through the process, and to train our spells and arts. To make rice, we need to know how to use fire-controlling spells, and to farm, we need to train in cloud and rain spells."
"So you're saying that we'll have to grow our own food?" Shi Meng was also getting excited. After all, he had grown up in poverty and didn't care about this sort of hardship.
"Naturally." The one to speak this time was the middle-aged woman. She cupped her hands in greeting and said, "My three little dears, congratulations on finally realizing the secret to survival in this school. I look forward to the three of you continuing to work hard and living up to the hopes of the academy. In addition, I would ask that the three of you keep this a secret. It would be best if the students comprehended such things on their own."
Tang Jie bowed to the woman, "Madam, thank you for your instructions. This lowly one will remember. Might I ask your name?"
Everyone in Basking Moon Academy was a student or an Immortal master. Tang Jie didn't even dare to be careless around a woman selling rice.
But the woman simply chuckled. "You may just call me Madam Shui."
Wei Tianchong was so happy that he was laughing. "So it was like that. In the future, if I can't outrun the others, I can grow my own… food… to eat… Oh no!"
Wei Tianchong suddenly paled, his tone suddenly changing.
"Young Master, what's wrong?" Tang Jie asked.
"I don't know how to grow food," Wei Tianchong bitterly said.
Tang Jie chuckled. "And I thought that it was something big. In truth, if you want to eat, you don't have to grow and farm. If we can buy rice seeds, I presume that the same is true for chickens, ducks, and other kinds of meat. We should be able to raise our own. If we have extra, we can even sell it to other students. After all, we can't make everything ourselves, so we'll need to trade."
Wei Tianchong got it. "It's no wonder our houses have so much empty space in the courtyard. That empty space is for us to provide for ourselves, whether it's farming crops, raising animals, or digging out ponds. The academy has no rules about this, so we can choose what to do with it."
"No wonder none of the upperclassmen go to Thousand Taste Pavilion," Shi Meng said.
Tang Jie simply chuckled. In truth, when he arrived at Spirit Wonder Market, he had confirmed his theory. This was because all those upperclassmen that they hadn't seen… were trading their products here. This market was actually mostly formed from students.
"That is so." The woman covered her mouth and smiled. "Everyone has their own ambitions and strong points, and so students should do what it is they want or what they're good at. So long as it doesn't break the academy's rules, the academy will permit it. Does this young master have any particular skill?"
Wei Tianchong froze.
He thought the question over, and his plump face reddened as he shamefully said, "I… I can't do anything!"