AIP - Chapter 41: Selection (2)
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
Back to the night of Ji Ziqian's departure:
In the small wooden hut, Tang Jie said to Wei Die, "I truly need Fourth Young Lady's help with something."
"What is it?"
"It's like this… before meeting Fourth Young Lady, I already explained to Uncle Qin that I was once fortunate enough to encounter an Immortal."
"Yes, I know. That's why you understand so much about the cultivation world."
"The problem is that this immortal did something else for me besides telling me about the cultivation world."
"What was it?"
"Opening my Jade Gate," Tang Jie answered.
Steward Qin and Wei Die were both flabbergasted, Wei Die blurting out, "Your Jade Gate is already open? How many cycles?"
"Five cycles," Tang Jie helplessly replied.
A five-cycle Jade Gate!
Steward Qin and Wei Die gasped.
A five-cycle Jade Gate sounded like the middle grade.
But it was just like how the Celestial Heart Realm was only 'middle grade', yet no one dared to not take a True Person seriously.
For the vast majority of cultivators, a five-cycle Jade Gate was already an extremely difficult feat. A conceited genius like Ji Ziqian had truthfully only managed to reach four cycles.
And of the three young masters and six servants students the Wei Clan had dispatched, none had reached five cycles, the best having only reached four. This also meant that while Tang Jie's aptitude put him in the middle, he was in the upper ranks compared to the rest of the crowd. It was no wonder that Steward Qin and Wei Die were so shocked.
It had to be understood that a five-cycle Jade Gate signified that someone had the qualities to reach the Celestial Heart Realm.
Such was the importance of the Jade Gate to the cultivation world. It served as a dividing line, the number of cycles serving as an indicator of one's potential. For example, one cycle or two cycles meant that one could definitely become a Spirit Disciple, which was one's foot into the door. Three or four cycles meant that one could become a Spirit Master, five or six was Celestial Heart, and seven or eight was Violet Palace. Nine cycles meant that one had a fifty percent chance of reaching Immortal Platform.
A five-cycle Jade Gate meant that if one cultivated normally, one would have a fifty percent chance of reaching the Celestial Heart Realm.
Of course, this wasn't some scientific division. It symbolized a cultivator's ability to circulate and absorb spiritual energy. It could be compared to a person's life expectancy in that it had the greatest theoretical value.
In the process of cultivation, as one traveled down side roads, one might suffer from internal injuries that constantly wore away at the so-called success ratio. Those who could truly reach the Immortal Platform from the Violet Palace were probably less than one in ten, but this didn't prevent people from saying that those with a nine-cycle Jade Gate had a fifty percent chance of reaching Immortal Platform. For example, while an eight-cycle Jade Gate might not be able to reach Violet Palace, those cultivators who could reach Violet Palace were often seven-cycle or more.
By the same principle, those of lower aptitude might be able to make the leap. Fortune was fickle, and there was no telling what could influence one and allow one to have better results than expected.
Thus, the Jade Gate division represented only a possibility, not an inevitability. But at the very least, it could serve as a reference.
When Steward Qin learned that Tang Jie had a five-cycle Jade Gate, he immediately became excited, but he also instantly understood why Tang Jie was worried.
Before servant students entered school, the clan's Spirit Masters would help them open their Jade Gates.
The fact that Tang Jie's Jade Gate was already open was a major flaw when it came to his identity.
He would have to explain to the Wei Estate who had opened his Jade Gate!
If this matter could not be explained, he would have no hope of getting into the academy.
Tang Jie had been trying to find a way to conceal this matter, but now, he finally had a chance.
"Little Jie, tell me honestly: did someone order you to enter the Wei Clan, or do you have some ulterior motive?" This was a major development that affected the clan, so Steward Qin turned serious. He was devoted to the Wei Estate and would never permit someone he had brought in to harbor ill intentions.
Tang Jie answered, "Though I encountered an Immortal who opened my gate, I did not obtain any sort of Immortal art, nor did I receive guidance from anyone. It was purely a fortuitous opportunity. If I did have some sort of motive when it came to the Wei Clan, it would be that I want to enter school using the Wei Clan… which is what every servant seeks."
"Swear it!" Wei Die sternly ordered.
"Of course. I, Tang Jie, swear an oath upon my Heart Demon that I entered the Wei Clan with no ill intentions, only to enter the Immortal Gate. The Immortal Gate is difficult to enter, and I could only rely on the Wei Clan. If I succeed in my efforts, I will generously repay this kindness. If I break this oath, may my Heart Demon devour me!"
Though it was not a great aspiration, he spoke with great solemnity, and Steward Qin and Wei Die relaxed. In the end, neither of them was the patriarch, so they did not need to think about problems so thoroughly. So long as Tang Jie hadn't come to do harm, they wouldn't push the matter too hard.
Of course, this was also because they had known Tang Jie for some time. If he had brought up this matter on their first meeting, then no matter how much Tang Jie had offered, Steward Qin might not have believed him, let alone been as bold as to get him into the Wei Estate.
As for now, after more than a year of knowing him, Steward Qin felt that Tang Jie was still a trustworthy person.
In the end, affection was sometimes better able to gain trust than reason.
After making the oath, Tang Jie said, "Although I don't have harmful intentions, this matter is still rather troublesome. Fourth Young Lady, you also know that servant students are decided on the whim of the master and the lady. If they have some apprehension, thinking that I was hiding something from them, and start to distrust me…"
Putting aside the fact that a Heart Demon Aspiration had no effect before Celestial Heart, even if it was effective, it could not be completely relied on. At least the lady had never relied solely on the Heart Demon Aspiration.
Thus, while the Heart Demon Aspiration could be used to affirm one's true feelings to the master and the lady, it was clearly not enough to get one past the finish line.
"You want me to help you conceal this matter?" Wei Die understood what Tang Jie wanted.
"What I hope for is that once you enter Heart Severing Pavilion, you can send a letter saying that you had a senior who came to Canglong Prefecture, saw my talent, and decided on a whim to help me open my Jade Gate."
"I see. That's no problem." Wei Die immediately agreed. "I'll say that I owed you a favor, so I entreated a person to help you out."
It was just a letter, not anything big, and for Tang Jie, it resolved a major problem for him and allowed him to put down a major weight on his heart.
Steward Qin was also enlightened. "No wonder you don't take Shi Mo's Heart Demon Aspiration seriously. You already have a plan, don't you?"
"Yes, I have a plan," Tang Jie answered. "The five-cycle Jade Gate is my source of concern, but it is also my trump card. A Heart Demon Aspiration can only guarantee one's loyalty, but besides loyalty, one also needs ability. A person's worth has always been one's ability multiplied by one's loyalty. He can give loyalty, but what about ability? For the Wei Estate, investing in someone with sixty loyalty and sixty ability is much better than investing in someone with one hundred loyalty and twenty ability. After all, excessive loyalty can only express itself when the clan is in dire peril, its value going unnoticed most of the time. And any great clan wouldn't spend too much time thinking about its own extinction. Besides that, even if such a thing did happen, it wouldn't be something that a few pieces of excessively loyal trash could save. Rather than paying more to the excessively loyal, it would be better to spend the money hiring more talents so as to avert the decline. Thus, I'm not worried about Shi Mo at all. My only headache is over how to explain my five-cycle Jade Gate. With the fourth young lady's help, this problem will be solved."
The best way to defeat Shi Mo's Great Heart Demon Aspiration was to compete with him in ability, not loyalty.
A five-cycle Jade Gate was the best anyone in the Wei Clan besides Wei Qing'er had reached, and also the best among all the men.
A five-cycle Jade Gate meant a chance at Celestial Heart. Tang Jie's Heart Demon Aspiration was not mere bluster, but backed by actual ability.
In comparison, no matter how good Shi Mo's aspiration was, if he couldn't even reach Spirit Master, what would it matter?
But to Tang Jie's surprise, before he even had a chance to use his hidden card, Zheng Shufeng had rejected Shi Mo.
According to Tang Jie's original script, Shi Mo would first stage a comeback, after which Tang Jie would move heaven and earth to turn the tables back around. With all the ups and downs, climax topping climax, it would have made for a wonderful show. It was twists and turns, comebacks from desperate spots, that were fun to watch.
But life wasn't a game, and it didn't follow the scripts of others.
Zheng Shufeng's resolve had greatly reduced the effectiveness of Tang Jie's trump card, making his killing blow no longer as important. On the contrary, it proved that Zheng Shufeng was right, that she knew how to pick people.
Tang Jie felt a deep sense of helplessness.
The letter from Wei Die was at this time formally presented to Wei Danbai and Zheng Shufeng.
The two of them read through the letter and whispered to each other. From the satisfied look in Zheng Shufeng's eyes, the look of shock on Wei Danbai's face, and Tang Jie's assured attitude, Shi Mo finally understood what he was facing—even without Zheng Shufeng's direct refusal, Tang Jie had come ready to turn the tables.
He had been ready from the very start!
Shi Mo had lost!
He had utterly lost, lost even though he had wagered everything he had. Moreover, he had lost twice, the savage beating from both Zheng Shufeng and Tang Jie letting him know that he had no hope of winning, regardless of how much he bet.
It was a miserable defeat, devoid of the slightest tinge of heroism. And in Tang Jie's eyes, there was no sense of accomplishment in defeating a child.
But Shi Mo still did not give up.
He was still unwilling!
As he watched the master and lady talk, Shi Mo shouted for all he was worth, "I can do it too! Let me charge through the gate! I can also open up five cycles!"
At this time, he was no longer struggling for the servant student position, only for the right to speak.
He wanted to prove to everyone that if Tang Jie could do it, so could he!
Alas, reality was always so cruel.
Zheng Shufeng raised her head and looked to Spirit Master Lu.
Lu Chenyang softly chuckled and made a snatching motion in Shi Mo's direction. Pulling him through the air, he patted down Shi Mo's body in several spots like he was inspecting a piece of pork. He shook his head. "A slow aptitude and a poor constitution. There's no need to waste time on a thorough inspection. In my view, you can only reach four cycles at most."
Saying this, he pushed Shi Mo away.
Four cycles at most! This meant that if he lacked Tang Jie's persistence and resolve, he would normally only be able to reach two or three cycles.
This news almost made Shi Mo faint.
Seeing how dejected he was, Tang Jie softly sighed. "Without ability, no one will want you, even if you're willing to be a dog."