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AIP - Chapter 78: Young Schoolmates (2)

Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr

Whether it was due to Tang Jie speaking or the appearance of Qi Shaoming and An Rumeng, the Freedom Society members suddenly lost interest.

After visiting the long dike, the schoolmates stopped their sightseeing, instead going to a nearby restaurant to eat.

The owner had sharp eyes and could tell by glancing at their uniforms that these were students from Basking Moon Academy. He quickly escorted them up to the private room on the upper floor.

Cai Junyang was the most straightforward of all. The moment the alcohol was served, he raised his cup and loudly said, "That we met means we share some destiny together. As fellow schoolmates, let us share a toast!"

"A toast!"

"A toast!"

"A toast!"

All of the students called out, even the girls, and they downed their cups of wine.

As the wine entered their bellies, the restaurant soon grew lively.

Cai Junyang was definitely the one with the best alcohol tolerance among them, and he had a very bold personality, so the students were soon being dragged into drinking contests with him, and even after three or four had fallen, he was still completely fine. If Tang Jie hadn't obstinately refused, Cai Junyang wouldn't have spared him either.

Once one large jar of wine had been finished, Cai Junyang felt even bolder. He stood on the top floor of the restaurant and shouted out, "Basking Moon Student Cai Junyang sets down his resolve before Full Moon Tower! Today, I am a student who diligently cultivates the sword so that I might walk the world with sword in hand… One day, I, Cai Junyang, will make the entire Rosecloud Domain know my name!"

"Good!" Everyone clapped their hands and shouted.

"Just parroting the words of another," Cai Junyang said, his head wavering a little from intoxication. "Brother Tang's declaration in front of Basking Moon Academy—that's what can truly be called heroic. Now…"

He belched. "It's a little late."

"It also depends on the sort of person," Hua Yang said with a sneer. "Given Brother Cai's talent and strength, when you say such things, they are bold and heroic words, but when others say them, they can only be called empty bluster."

Everyone looked at Tang Jie and chuckled.

Cai Junyang shook his head. "Brother Hua, you're wrong. Strength doesn't depend on just talent. In the end, you have to see how they do in an actual fight. Although I've never seen Brother Tang fight, when we were playing around on the long dike today, I noticed that Brother Tang was rather agile. I would dare wager that if you two actually fought, Brother Hua, you would be no match for Brother Tang."

Hua Yang also had a five-cycle Jade Gate, but unlike Tang Jie, he had his clan's resources, so he didn't think he would fare worse than Tang Jie.

Cai Junyang's words immediately made his face redden. "We would actually have to fight to find out."

He turned to Tang Jie. "Tang Jie, do you dare to fight with me?"

Tang Jie shook his head. "All of us came out to play, so just have fun. If you want to fight, there will be plenty of chances in the future."

"Are you chicken?" Hua Yang spoke in a louder tone.

Trying to provoke me?

Tang Jie inwardly chuckled and shook his head. "If Brother Hua says I'm chicken, then I'm chicken. I can only ask that Brother Hua is gracious enough to let me go. I am just a minor character, so I don't deserve all this attention everyone is showing me."

Hua Yang couldn't push him too far after he said all this, so he could only snort, "You turned out to be quite the coward."

Tang Jie laughed and didn't argue.

It was still Ping Jingyue who played the role of mediator. "Alright, alright, we're all schoolmates. What are we arguing for? If you really want to fight, there'll be time to fight in the future. The exam is done, and the training will start soon. If you want to show off, do so there."

All the students fell silent at this.

Only Wei Tianchong didn't get it. "Training? Don't the training missions only start at the Spirit Lake Tier?"

Tang Jie answered, "It means formal cultivation training."

"Formal cultivation training?" Wei Tianchong was still confused. "Aren't we doing cultivation training right now?"

Tang Jie rolled his eyes. "There needs to be cultivation and training to have cultivation training! You've cultivated, but have you ever trained?"

Wei Tianchong was flabbergasted. He wanted to say that he was always training, but he knew that Tang Jie and the others weren't talking about that sort of training.

Shu Mingyang explained, "'Training' here means combat lessons. Students learn spells, but daily practice is far from enough. We also need to engage in sparring to improve ourselves. Only by bringing together cultivation and training can you get cultivation training!"

"How is that different from training missions?" Shi Meng blurted out.

Just like Wei Tianchong, he didn't understand what training was about.

Shu Mingyang answered, "Training missions are about going outside to engage in actual combat with fiend beasts. The fruits are greater, but so is the risk. If you don't do a good job, it's very normal to lose your life. Training involves practice within the school, and students officially begin training after the first exam ends. Students must participate whether or not they passed the exam. You can also take part in it early, but there's no reward. Compared to training missions, official cultivation training is much safer, though you get fewer benefits from it."

"There are benefits?" Wei Tianchong was interested in that.

Cai Junyang answered, "That's only natural. You have to understand that training is the foundation for our future success. The path of Immortality can be compared to a mountain road, with countless people fighting over it. Do you really think that competitions over a cup of wine on the ferry or a plate of food at Thousand Taste Pavilion can be called struggles? Training is where the true struggle begins, the beginning of everything, and it is also the guarantee of my success! I'll tell you now that there is a ranking for each day of training, and anyone who gets on that ranking will be rewarded with resources from the school. Someone who can succeed in training will have the path open for them. Otherwise, the school has so many spells and arts, all of them difficult to cultivate, and just advancing in cultivation realm alone takes up so much energy. How can anyone have time to practice spells? Even a nine-cycle Jade Gate holder wouldn't have the time. In the end, you need a ranking to get more resources. In addition, your grades in training are also taken into account in your training mission grade. Only if your grades are good can you be qualified to enter the next competition."

"I get it now." Wei Tianchong understood. "I didn't hear anything about this from my big brother."

Tang Jie replied, "They didn't mention it because they never went."

"They didn't go?" Wei Tianchong was flabbergasted. "You don't need to go to training?"

"It is said that you have to attend three days of training every month," Tang Jie said. "Some people who lack strength know that going is pointless, so they're naturally not willing to waste their time. And those who lack talent place more importance on increasing their cultivation level. After all, the restrictions on spells are rather low, and there will always be a chance to get some more. There are also some people who are afraid of pain and aren't willing to go. People in these three categories will usually only take part in the lowest level of training, and they'll often just go into the ring and immediately concede."

"Afraid of pain?"

"Yes. You have to realize that the academy permits sparring, and if you run into a ruthless opponent, it's not unusual if you're beaten half to death."

Wei Tianchong couldn't help but shiver. "That scary? Then I shouldn't go, either."

Tang Jie got angry at this, saying, "Third Young Master, resources are limited, and the Great Dao must be fought for! The struggle of Immortal cultivation begins at training, and all the struggles before this were just to get you used to the environment. If you shrink back at the start, you won't be willing to confront many other dangers, meaning that when you walk the path of Immortality, you'll eventually be pushed aside!"

"But…" Wei Tianchong was still hesitant.

Tang Jie knew that relying on reason wouldn't work, so he added, "Moreover, while training for other people might mean losing some blood, that's not certain when it comes to you."

"Why?" Wei Tianchong was puzzled.

"Because you have a puppet."

"A puppet?" Wei Tianchong's eyes flashed.

"Correct, a puppet!" Tang Jie affirmed. "A puppet is also considered a part of your strength. After all, it was made from your resources. When it comes to resources, eating medicine to increase your strength counts, so there's no reason for puppets to not count. But you need to assign the puppet to your name during training, and you can't let other people use it. Third Young Master, you are very skilled when it comes to carving, so it's completely possible for you to use the wolf puppet in battle and get some combat experience. If you run into someone you can't beat, you just concede at worst, and you won't get hurt in any way. But if you win, you'll benefit enormously. With the extra resources, you can cultivate faster. Why else would I have advised you to go into puppets?"

He had advised Wei Tianchong to make puppets by saying that he could make money, but Wei Tianchong had had so much fun with the puppet that he had completely forgotten about making money.

It was only when Tang Jie brought it up that he understood that there was also this sort of goal in mind. Those two thousand spirit coins hadn't been just to get him a toy.

Wei Tianchong was immediately tempted by the proposition.

Though he was a cowardly person who disliked hard work, he still had some ambition. If he could pay a small price for resources that could improve his cultivation speed and get a rather high ranking in the academy, his mother would definitely be happy.

He was also just two days from getting into the Spirit Spring Tier. When the time came, he could choose a spell that could work with the combat puppet, and perhaps he really could win a few matches.

Hua Yang sneered, "So from Brother Tang's tone, you'll be going to training?"

Tang Jie lazily replied, "I'm just a little servant student, so I don't have any good sources of resources. Since the academy has given me the opportunity for some resources, I naturally have to fight for them."

"Good. Then let us meet on the Divine Battleground. When the time comes, I will definitely take some time to experience Brother Tang's strength and see if you really are as strong as Brother Cai says."

Tang Jie indifferently replied, "Then you'll have to get in line. My luck hasn't been good lately, and there will probably be quite a few people who want to give me a beating using this opportunity."

Everyone burst out in laughter.

Ever since Tang Jie had made that declaration in front of the academy gate, many people had been unhappy with him, and whether it was due to the matter with Li Yu, the favor showed to him by Ping Jingyue and the others with the founding of the Freedom Society, or his position as top student, he had constantly been the target of unkind gazes.

But the people who actually came to cause him trouble were few. You Shaofeng was the first, but he definitely wouldn't be the last.

Perhaps everyone was waiting precisely for the Divine Battleground.

Once the argument was over, everyone went back to drinking.

When students got together, they would always talk loudly about whatever topic struck them. There were those who imagined the future, those who reminisced on the past, those who competed against each other, and those who challenged each other to drinking contests.

After three rounds of wine, a student who had drunk too much loudly said, "There are no days or months in the cultivation of Immortality, but our days of school will come to an end. Today, we are mortal schoolmates, but in the future, we will be Immortal comrades, walking the Great Dao side by side, together… together…"

He froze, not knowing how to follow up.

Shu Mingyang said, "Together relieving the suffering of the common people."

"Hear hear!" the students said, clapping.

A student called Li Yijing waved his hand in disagreement. "No, that's no good. The world is at peace, so where did 'the suffering of the common people' come from? Brother Shu's ambitions are set on the world, and this is a good thing, but you shouldn't make reality too dark."

"But there is always some suffering," Shu Mingyang said.

"While the common people might not be suffering, unrest is everpresent! In my view, it should be 'walking the Great Dao side by side, raising our swords to pacify unrest and bring joy'!" Cai Junyang loudly said.

Another student commented, "That's your desire to be a chivalrous wandering warrior. As cultivators, we're not that passionate. No, no, Junyang, you don't act like a cultivator at all."

"True. If it were me, I think walking the Great Dao side by side, unrestrained across the world, is much more like an Immortal," Ping Jingyue said.

A student immediately chuckled. "Well, that depends on who you're walking alongside across the world."

"Is there a need to ask? Schoolmates naturally aren't suited for this role. Only your Dao companion would work," another person added.

All the students laughed while Ping Jingyue blushed. She said in a soft voice, "None of you are taking this seriously."

But her eyes turned on Tang Jie, whether intentionally or not.

Tang Jie chuckled. "The Great Dao is difficult to travel, the path of Immortality rife with struggle. Since we walk the Great Dao side by side, we climb up the peak of life and death together."

"Walking the Great Dao side by side, together climbing the peak of life and death?" Everyone pondered these words.

Liu Hongyan finally said, "Brother Tang, your words are just as bold and heroic as Junyang's, but it's a little too grim. My Little Yueyue's 'walking the Great Dao side by side, unrestrained across the world' is a lot more cheerful."

The students all chortled. Only Hua Yang snorted, his heart burning with resentment.

Tang Jie coolly said, "The sights at the peak of life and death are beautiful, and fragrant footsteps await at the end of the path of Immortality."

Everyone was startled by these words.

Liu Hongyan had just been joking, and another student would have made up a line or two to tease the two beauties of the club, yet with this verse, Tang Jie had refused.

Ping Jingyue's face dimmed. Squeezing out a smile, she asked, "Fragrant footsteps at the end of the path of Immortality? But whose fragrant footsteps could have earned Brother Tang's attention?"

Tang Jie raised his head back and laughed. "I'm just talking for the sake of talking, so everyone should just listen for the sake of listening. There's no need to take me seriously. I became a servant student to seek out the footsteps of Immortals. If I went to seek fragrant footsteps, that would make me a slave student. Thus, I'm not really hoping for much; I just want to properly serve my young master."

Everyone laughed.

Wei Tianchong was busy chowing down on meat when he heard Tang Jie. A chicken wing in his mouth, he nodded. "Mm, mm, mm! Us? We walk the Great Dao side by side, eating and drinking what we want… Oh, this is for you!"

He thrust a chicken leg into Tang Jie's hand.

Tang Jie gladly took it. "My thanks, Young Master."

Everyone was speechless. Shu Mingyang chuckled and said, "It seems like Young Master Wei has set his ambitions on playing his heart out in the day and enjoying song and dance every night, enjoying all the pleasures of the world."

Wei Tianchong nodded. "I know that it's a little crude and most of you will look down on me for it, but I'm a simple person. Why do people cultivate Immortality? In my view, it's to live a comfortable life. In the end, it's for oneself! Brother Su, you wish to support the people of the world, but there's a high chance that you also want to enjoy the fame and renown in the history books, yes? This is called fame-seeking! Brother Cai, you wish to sweep through the unrest of the world with your sword, but this is probably because you want to enjoy the gratitude of others, yes? This is called emotion-seeking. In other words, all of us have something that we seek. It's just that my sights aren't set that high. I'm just seeking to enjoy a life without suffering, heheh."

These words made everyone view Wei Tianchong in a different light.

Wei Tianchong saw everyone staring at him and was scared out of his wits. He turned to Tang Jie and asked, "Did I say anything wrong?"

Tang Jie shook his head and smiled. "Not this time. Young Master is a simple person, and simple people look at problems more directly, more fundamentally, but they're not necessarily lacking compared to those people who seem smarter."

"Oh, I get it, heh." Wei Tianchong grinned and went back to eating.

Everyone was still speechless over what he had said. In the end, it was Shu Mingyang who broke the silence. "Young Master Wei is saying that no matter why we cultivate Immortality, we are all seeking something, so why should we put down some pursuits while raising up others? In the past, I somewhat looked down on the young master; I didn't expect to be enlightened by his words. This Mingyang was a little too conceited."

He bowed to Wei Tianchong as a form of apology, leaving Wei Tianchong in a rather awkward spot.

Cai Junyang raised his cup. "Come on. No matter what the future holds, we are all schoolmates today. The path of Immortality is long, and many days of struggle lie before us, but at least today, we are schoolmates, friends! A toast to schoolmates today, Immortal comrades in the future!"

"Schoolmates today, Immortal comrades in the future!" All the students stood up and raised their cups high.

Ping!

The cups clinked, and wine sloshed into the air.

At that moment, as he watched these youthful schoolmates clinking cups, brimming with vigor, Tang Jie suddenly recalled a poem.

Alone I stand in the autumn cold, on the tip of Orange Island, the Xiang flowing northward. I see a thousand hills crimsoned through, by their serried woods deep-dyed; and a hundred barges vying, over crystal blue waters. Eagles cleave the air, fish glide in the limpid deep; under freezing skies a million creatures contend in freedom. Brooding over this immensity, I ask, on this boundless land, Who rules over man's destiny?

I was here with a throng of companions. Vivid yet those crowded months and years. Young we were, schoolmates, at life's full flowering; filled with student enthusiasm, boldly we cast all restraints aside. Pointing to our mountains and rivers, setting people afire with our words, we counted the mighty no more than muck. Remember still, how, venturing midstream, we struck the waters, and waves staying the speeding boats?

Changsha—to the tune of Qin Yuan Chun! 
(TN: Written by Mao Zedong in 1925)

Hypersheep325's Notes:

Ah yes, this poem again. I can't seem to escape it.

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Written by Yuanfen 0 缘分0. Translated by Hypersheep325. Edited by Michyrr.