AIP - Chapter 47: The Student Forest
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
With Tang Jie's reminder about the rules, Wei Tianchong no longer wasted time sightseeing. The convoy's speed picked up, and as it was protected by a Spirit Master, after an arduous journey, they finally arrived safely at the capital of the Sageheart Kingdom, Wanquan City.
As the kingdom's capital, Wanquan City was overflowing with grandeur that Canglong Prefecture simply couldn't compare to. The city was prosperous and thriving, the roads wide enough for eight carriages to run abreast. The buildings on both sides were richly ornamented, and exuded a luxurious air. Even many of the pedestrians wore silk brocade and carried themselves in an impressive manner.
The carriage rolled smoothly across the stone paving. At almost every intersection was a fountain, each one in a different form.
It was said that there was a river running beneath Wanquan City, so there were many spring sources throughout the city. Some bored person once tried to count them all, but they reached three thousand and still weren't done. Thus, it came to be known as Wanquan City (Ten Thousand Springs City).
Wanquan City was divided into an inner and outer city. The inner city was the imperial palace of the Sageheart Kingdom. While the Immortal sects reigned supreme, the imperial clan served as the mortal representatives of the Immortals, and so the imperial city had its unique dignity and status.
On the eastern outskirts of the outer city were the Clear Sky Mountains, and the illustrious Basking Moon Academy was situated on Rising Star Peak of the Clear Sky Mountains. But unlike most mountains, this was not a natural mountain range. Rather, a Great Power of the Basking Moon Sect had used their supreme Immortal arts to raise it from the earth. This was why the mountains were called Clear Sky and the peak was called Rising Star—it was hoped that the rising stars of the cultivation world would have a smooth path to the heavens.
The carriages made their way toward the Clear Sky Mountains. After passing through Wanquan City, they arrived at the foot of the Clear Sky Mountains. There was a lake at the foot of the mountains that circled around them like a jade belt. It was called Jade Belt Lake, and it had also been created by that Great Power of the Basking Moon Sect. All of the Clear Sky Mountains were circled by Jade Belt Lake, and it was said that this lake was populated with man-eating monsters so that no boats except the Immortal ferries could cross it.
In other words, the Clear Sky Mountains were actually Basking Moon Academy. Once one was inside Basking Moon Academy, one would need approval from the academy to leave.
At the foot of the mountains, one could see large numbers of houses built up along the lake. This was the famous "Student Forest", the residences for the students of Basking Moon Academy for when they lived outside of the academy.
The rules of Basking Moon Academy stated that students were not permitted to bring servants, but so their scions would not suffer, the various great clans would always find loopholes in the rules.
You don't permit servants? Then I'll bring servant students. You can't say anything if fellow students decide to help each other.
And the rules of the academy are only in force within the academy. That being the case, I'll build a house outside the academy for my servants. According to the rules of the academy, students were allowed to leave the school for one day a month. If there was anything that needed to be done, they could come here to get their servants to handle the problem—the servant students were only responsible for addressing problems within the academy, and other things were handled by people on the outside.
Thus, man's cunning was limitless. "No matter how you try to restrain me, I'll always find a loophole."
This was how the Student Forest was born.
The Wei Clan had also bought a house in the Student Forest, but it was jointly owned by the two older brothers of the Wei Clan. In any case, they only went out once a month, so this house was enough.
When the convoy arrived, the resident boy servant from the Wei Clan was waiting there for them.
Wei Tianchong got off his carriage, and as he looked at the house, he frowned. "Isn't this a little too small?"
This house was a square of four rooms arranged around a courtyard, similar to the courtyard houses of Beijing. In terms of area, it was much, much smaller than the Meditation Garden. The three young masters each lived in one of the rooms, while the servants lived in the last one.
Wei Tianchong had never lived in such a small room back in the Wei Clan.
The boy servant was called Lin Mao. When he heard Wei Tianchong's question, he chuckled. "Young Master, while this house is small, you have no idea how much it cost."
Wei Tianchong was taken aback. "So you're saying that this house was very expensive?"
The boy servant raised three fingers.
"Three thousand taels?" Wei Tianchong asked in confusion, thinking to himself, This is rather pricey. No wonder Mom wasn't willing to buy a bigger one.
"It's thirty thousand!" the boy servant declared.
"What?" Wei Tianchong barely stopped himself from jumping. "Is this extortion? A little house like this is thirty thousand taels?"
Thirty thousand taels of silver was the equivalent of thirty million yuan!
This house plus the courtyard was two hundred square meters at most, meaning that it cost one hundred and fifty thousand yuan per square meter!
The most expensive houses in Canglong Prefecture would, at most, go for ten thousand yuan per square meter, which was why Wei Tianchong had considered three thousand taels to be rather expensive. The house by Windscreen Ford that Tang Jie had bought was a little bigger than this, and it had only cost one hundred and fifty taels. Even Tang Jie was shocked to find out that this little house cost thirty thousand.
The boy servant smiled. "There's nothing to be done. After all, this is Basking Moon Academy, and most of the people are wealthy and respectable. This house isn't worth a lot of money, but there's no more free land in the surrounding area. Thus, the property values around Jade Belt Lake go up every year. This place is considered rather cheap. There are locations with excellent views of the lake and mountains that are hotly contested despite going for one hundred thousand taels."
One hundred thousand taels was one hundred million yuan!
And this was mostly for students to stay in that house for one day a month, limiting the price increase. If the Basking Moon Sect had required all students to have a registered address in the Student Forest to be admitted, then the property values would have gone to the moon.
The thought of one house selling for one hundred million yuan left Tang Jie with a throbbing headache. All he could manage to say was, "School district housing!"
The abundance of spiritual energy and the ability of Immortals to keep the weather favorable throughout the year meant that the Rosecloud Domain was rather productive, but the common people lived very average lives. It appeared that most of the wealth was gathered in the lands of cultivators.
"This is too savage!" Even a wasteful scion like Wei Tianchong felt his heart ache from this price.
The boy servant added, "But this isn't without reason. Although the houses are expensive, if you succeed in your studies, Young Master, it can be sold off. If Young Master can become an outer disciple, or even a disciple, this would become a blessed land. When the time comes, the master and the lady could easily sell off this house for fifty thousand taels. Young Master, you have to understand that the most expensive house in the Student Forest isn't the one with the best view, but one which produced disciples. Thus, the master and the lady are making an investment here."
Truly, when anything became associated with something that constantly appreciated in value, its own value would never fall.
Wei Tianchong asked, "Then if I become a forsaken student?"
The boy servant was so frightened that he started shivering. How could the third young master be so unreasonable? He hasn't even entered school yet and is already thinking about getting expelled! He chuckled nervously, but he didn't dare to answer.
"If you become a forsaken student, then this house probably won't even sell for ten thousand taels," Tang Jie said with a smile. "Thus, Third Young Master, your grades in school are directly linked to the Wei Clan's expenses of tens of thousands, perhaps even hundreds of thousands, of silver taels. It would be terrible if you didn't diligently apply yourself to your studies."
"Stop trying that on me. You want me to memorize the disciple rules again? I refuse!" Wei Tianchong brusquely replied.
"Memorizing the disciple rules is also good for you. If you're familiar with the rules, you'll make fewer mistakes and think more carefully about your actions. You don't want to get sent home because you didn't understand the rules and got your points deducted, right?" Tang Jie replied with a smile.
Wei Tianchong twisted his head away. "I still won't memorize it. Don't I have you for that? Don't think I don't know that you're just trying to slack off. Once we get into school, you plan to toss me aside, but you're also worried that I will get into trouble, so you're having me memorize the rules. Hmph, I'm not falling for this bait."
"Truly, those three years we spent together weren't wasted. The young master is understanding me more and more." Tang Jie grinned back.
"Hmph, I knew it was like that," Wei Tianchong smugly said. He pointed at Tang Jie and warned, "Also, stop demanding that I make the top ten disciples or something like that. I have no interest."
"This… I really can't give up that easily. Even if I have to use a palanquin, I'll carry you up to that position," Tang Jie chuckled.
"Truly… truly… you terrify me!" Wei Tianchong was powerless, so he decided to just go straight to his room to get away from Tang Jie's pestering.
The boy servant had never seen a servant speak to his master this way, and was momentarily dumbfounded. He looked back and forth between Tang Jie and Wei Tianchong, unable to make sense of what had happened.
He asked Shi Meng, "He's a servant student?"
Shi Meng looked at him like he was an idiot. "Of course. What? A servant can't joke around with his master? I suppose everything is new and strange to someone without experience."
With a shake of his hand, he walked away.
As they had arrived early, they were able to rest in the house for a few days. In that time, Wei Die's older brother, Wei Ming, came to visit and see the third young master. On the other hand, Wei Tianchong's older brother, Wei Tianzhi, didn't come. Apparently, he was participating in some school trial and was busy.
This was a meeting of cousins, of schoolmates, so that night, wine was served in the courtyard, and they chatted all night. But when it came to the subject of school, Wei Ming was unwilling to speak, restraining himself to a few vague comments. Tang Jie had heard that he had a very open and frank personality. For such an open person to be so silent meant that he definitely wasn't having a good time.
In the end, after drinking a little too much, Wei Ming grabbed Wei Tianchong's hand and said, "Little Brother, heed my advice. Since you're here, work hard. Don't be as mischievous as before. This Basking Moon Academy isn't the Wei Clan, and trying to stand out here is hard!"
Wei Tianchong was confused by his words, and he asked, "Is someone bullying you?"
"Bullying?" Wei Ming burst into laughter. "After entering Basking Moon Academy, who has the time to bully others? Perhaps if you've advanced to the high levels, you might run into those unreasonable people, but right now… you have to fight for the right to be bullied!"
Wei Ming patted Wei Tianchong a few times and then swaggered off.
Wei Ming's display scared Wei Tianchong. He had never heard of fighting for the right to be bullied. He was so afraid that he tossed and turned in his bed all night, unable to sleep.
On the morning of the third day, registration for the academy finally began.
Walking out of the Student Forest and arriving at the Jade Belt Lake ferry, they saw a giant dragon-headed junk anchored at the dock.
This junk was so large that it seemed like it could carry nearly ten thousand people. It should have been impossible for it to sail such a shallow lake, but there it stood, majestically docked at the pier. This was naturally the work of Immortal arts, and it was a truly gorgeous sight.
Countless people packed the dock. Though there were only 1500 students, there were many more people present to send them off, ballooning the number to nearly ten thousand. These ten thousand people could be considered the gathering of the young elite and nobility of the Sageheart Kingdom. If one threw a brick into the crowd, one would strike some wealthy scion nine times out of ten, and the remaining one time would be some prince or princess. A misstep might be on the foot of some minister's son.
But all of these talented and spoiled children didn't even dare to breathe too loudly in front of the gate to Basking Moon Academy. In front of this Immortal sect, all secular nobles did not dare to raise their heads. This alone could allow one to understand why everyone so desperately wanted to become an Immortal.
Over the entrance to the ferry had been placed a sign that declared, "All those sending off students, stop here!" Two people with moon-white robes and long swords slung across their backs stood next to the sign—probably students that Basking Moon Academy had sent to supervise the registration.
Spotting the sign, Tang Jie grabbed the luggage and said, "Come on; we have to go over by ourselves."
As he looked at the ferry entrance, Wei Tianchong recalled Wei Ming's behavior from the night before. Wei Tianchong, who had never left his home or his family before, suddenly shivered and blurted out, "Entering through the academy gate is like entering the deep sea."
Turning back to the steward and servants who had come to send him off, his eyes began to moisten. "Steward Zhang, thank you for sending us this far. When you get back, tell my mom that I miss her!"
Steward Zhang was scared out of his wits. When did this kid suddenly get a personality change and become so tactful? He even knew to apologize to me for the difficult time I had escorting him here.
Wei Tianchong said, "I suddenly don't feel like going to school…"
Steward Zhang stumbled so badly he almost fell over.
Fortunately, this was just a moment of timidity from Wei Tianchong. He knew that giving up and going home wouldn't mean anything good for him. As Tang Jie pulled on him, he hardened up and walked forward.
As there were a lot of students, everyone had to stand in line. Perhaps because they had all been informed ahead of time, few people tried to break the rules.
It was inevitable for rich scions to have a little pride, but this didn't mean that they would act arrogant and unruly wherever they went. At least here, they knew that they couldn't get arrogant. Of course, it was hard to say how they would act in the future.
As everyone waited quietly to board the ship, chiming bells rang out from the back.
Everyone turned their heads and saw a carriage flashing with golden light stop at the ferry entrance. Several golden-clothed young men got off the carriage. They said nothing, simply standing on the side and watching the crowd.
"Who are those people? Are they also students entering school? Why don't they stand in line?" someone whispered.
"Those are all seniors who have already entered school, so they naturally don't need to wait in line. They've just come to maintain order."
"Nonsense. The students of Basking Moon Academy all wear the same clothes, the moon-white robes. Why would they be wearing gold robes? And their ages don't match."
"That's because those guys are different from other students. They're exchange students from Godhead Palace, so an exception was allowed for their entry. What's strange about them wearing the traditional clothes of Godhead Palace?"
"So they're students from Godhead Palace."
The crowd chattered.
Several years ago, Godhead Palace had sent these people to Basking Moon Academy, purportedly for some exchange of Immortal arts, an exchange of students. Regional differences and accents made this impossible to hide, so those with good intelligence networks already knew about this. It was just that no one had expected to see these students right as they were entering the academy.
However, they also normally wore moon-white robes. It was only today that they wore golden robes for the first time in their years here.
This was because this admission year was the last year Tang Jie could enter Basking Moon Academy. After this year, if Tang Jiye still didn't appear, they could no longer keep waiting, and if he did come, it didn't matter if they stayed or not. Since they would have his information, they would no longer be searching blindly.
Thus, for this year's school registration, Godhead Palace had made an exception and showed itself, openly seeking out Tang Jie.
"Godhead Palace…" Hearing this name, Tang Jie raised his head and looked at those golden-clothed young men who had gotten off the carriage.
A mysterious smile appeared on his lips as he softly muttered, "They really did come…"
"Who came?" Wei Tianchong had heard Tang Jie's muttering.
Tang Jie didn't answer, only softly chuckled.
A moment later, he did something that left everyone shocked.
He charged out of line, jumped at a nearby carriage, and flipped onto the roof.
Standing on the roof, Tang Jie shouted, "I, Tang Jie, finally fulfilled my wish of getting to Basking Moon Academy as a student! I hereby announce that one of the top ten disciples' spots for this class will be mine!"
This declaration reverberated in everyone's ears, leaving everyone gobsmacked, and those golden-clothed men also turned to look at Tang Jie.
The quiet atmosphere instantly erupted into loud chatter.
Tang Jie casually jumped down from the carriage and returned to Wei Tianchong's side.
Wei Tianchong was alarmed by what Tang Jie had done. "Tang Jie, have you gone crazy? How could you go around shouting in front of Basking Moon Academy's entrance like that!?"
Tang Jie answered, "Just demonstrating my convictions. In ancient times, didn't the strong do things like this? If you don't express your emotions and display your ambitions, how can you ever call yourself daring and courageous?"
"But this is Basking Moon Academy. All those rich and powerful nobles don't dare to act rashly, but you started shouting in front of the academy gate. Are you not afraid of getting points deducted?" Wei Tianchong was so angry that he felt like he was about to go crazy.
Everyone said that he didn't understand how to be discreet, so why was it that when Tang Jie lacked tact, he was even worse than him?
And he knew that what he did lacked tact!
Tang Jie smiled. "I know that I don't need to be afraid, because this isn't the academy, so the academy won't take points away from me for this. Trust me."
He pointed with his chin at the two students. Sure enough, the only reaction of the two students was to glance at him.
Wei Tianchong relaxed. "Regardless, it's best to be cautious!"
He was now the one urging Tang Jie to be careful. Truly, there was nothing too bizarre in this world.
Tang Jie laughed. "Of course I'll be cautious. It's precisely because I'm cautious that I've memorized the disciple rules. When you know what you can't do, you'll know what you can do…"
"'When you know what you can't do, you'll know what you can do'?" Wei Tianchong's eyes brightened.
"Correct! What do you think, Third Young Master? Memorize the disciple rules with me? Once you've memorized the disciple rules, you'll be able to do a lot of things that you previously couldn't!"
"Let me think about it."
Truly, the motivation for breaking the rules was always more powerful than that for following the rules!