AIP - Chapter 103: Reward
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
Tang Jie stood in front of Xie Fengtang.
Xie Fengtang examined this young man. After some time, he nodded. "You've given me another shock."
Few things could leave the Headmaster of Basking Moon Academy shocked.
Particularly when it came to students.
Tang Jie had already made Xie Fengtang's heart tremble three times. The first time was when it concerned his identity, the second time was at the art transmission, and the third time was now.
Tang Jie was probably the student that Xie Fengtang was the most familiar with now.
The word "familiar" could not be underestimated. Numerous people racked their minds for ways to make their face "familiar" to their boss.
Only when your boss had some impression of you would they think of you when it came to tasks and jobs, and only then would you get more opportunities.
Everyone in the world was working hard, but working hard with no opportunity resulted only in bitter toil.
Only opportunity combined with hard work could transform into a lucky encounter.
Basking Moon Academy had more than ten thousand students, and it was impossible for Headmaster Xie Fengtang to know each and every one of them. He hadn't even met nine-cycle-Jade-Gate Qi Shaoming or Thousand Passions Sect genius An Rumeng. After all, had there ever been a year wherein Basking Moon Academy didn't admit a few geniuses?
Thus, even though Tang Jie's identity was suspect, that didn't mean that Xie Fengtang would pay too much attention to him.
Besides the fact that he wasn't sure about Tang Jie's identity, there was one other important reason: the Basking Moon Sect didn't know that the Martial Lord's treasure store was not in Nadir Hill.
But they knew that it couldn't be in Sageheart. After all, Xu Muyang had fled to Sageheart.
A treasure store that wasn't within the borders of one's faction was bound to be difficult to get, and even if they did manage to get it, it would come at an enormous price.
Understanding this, the Basking Moon Sect wasn't too interested in getting the treasure. Its primary goal was to stop Godhead Palace from getting anything.
This was why Xie Fengtang had not invested anything into Tang Jie after the art transmission.
This understanding made it so that Tang Jie received far less from the Basking Moon Sect than he had anticipated and so that the Basking Moon Sect wasn't in a hurry to force Tang Jie's hand.
There were advantages.
And there were disadvantages.
But today, Tang Jie had once more appeared before Xie Fengtang.
This time, he had come as a record holder of the Celestial Defense Hall.
Tang Jie respectfully replied to Xie Fengtang, "It is all thanks to Headmaster Xie's care for this lowly one. This student was only able to accomplish this feat because he was able to learn the secret arts of the supreme Divine Firmament Sword Classic. This student does not dare to claim any credit."
Xie Fengtang indifferently replied, "Though the secret arts of Basking Moon are not recklessly transmitted, a few people will always be able to get them every year. But not even in the last one hundred years has there been someone who has obtained a secret art and used it to set an unprecedented record… After eighteen hundred years of accumulation, every record on the walls of the Seven Celestial Halls represents countless lucky encounters, strength, stories, sweat, and blood!"
Xie Fengtang's tone turned harsh as he reached the end.
After the surprise and joy came the interrogation.
Xie Fengtang needed Tang Jie to give a reasonable explanation.
Tang Jie could no longer use the explanation of an explosion of potential. Xie Fengtang was not Elder Qian, who did not need to worry about the affairs of the school and only needed a cursory explanation. To use that explanation with Xie Fengtang was no different from suicide. He would undoubtedly see if you could experience that same explosion of potential in front of him.
Tang Jie chuckled and said, "Headmaster is correct. Behind each record of the Seven Celestial Halls is endless sweat and blood… Without growth of the body, if one still wants to achieve great things, one must pay a great price."
Xie Fengtang was startled. "You…"
"The Nine Deaths Origin Return Art," Tang Jie answered.
This name was like a thunderbolt striking Xie Fengtang's mind, and he yelped, "The Nine Deaths Origin Return Art? You had the guts to cultivate the Bitter Silence Heart Dhyana?"
The Nine Deaths Origin Return Art was a secret art recorded in the Divine Firmament Sword Classic.
This secret art was not developed in the Basking Moon Sect. Rather, an Immortal Platform Titan of the Basking Moon Sect had once ascended and wandered all the domains of the universe, bringing back what he had found. Apparently, this technique had come from an Immortal book known as the Bitter Silence Heart Dhyana.
It was extremely easy to cultivate this art, and it had the effect of body refining. If one succeeded in cultivating this art, one's bones would become like a diamond, and it would also strengthen armor-piercing and metal-piercing spells.
But as one could tell from the name, cultivating this art was extremely dangerous, and the slightest negligence might lead a cultivator into energy corruption. Moreover, breakthroughs could only be achieved through life-or-death battles. The dangers were such that the chance to die was nine out of ten, hence the name of Nine Deaths Origin Return Art.
There would naturally be few people who would be willing to learn such a spell art.
Although there were many people willing to risk their lives to advance their cultivation, that depended on the method. Those who grabbed their weapons and charged into a trap were called brave, but those who took a revolver with five bullets loaded, pointed it at their head, and pulled the trigger were called idiots.
That Titan had brought back this art because, just like the Visceral Manifestation Classic, it was an art that could refine the body at the Spirit Platform Realm. Such an art was incredibly rare and was worth researching. Thus, it had been recorded in the Divine Firmament Sword Classic, but no one had ever actually picked it to cultivate.
In terms of cultivation effect, it was no worse than the Visceral Manifestation Classic, perhaps even better, but when it came to safety, the Visceral Manifestation Classic was miles ahead.
Tang Jie naturally wouldn't be so foolish as to cultivate it.
But he had created too much of a mess this time. Not even he had imagined that he would break a puppet.
Now that the deed was done, he needed to fix it somehow.
After thinking it over, he finally recalled the "three and a half".
He had said to Xie Fengtang that he had memorized three and a half spells, but Xie Fengtang had never asked him what the half was, and Tang Jie hadn't mentioned it, leaving it in reserve in case he needed it.
With the matter of this record to deal with, Tang Jie thought of the Nine Deaths Origin Return Art.
This art's body-refining effect was a perfect match for his current situation. Xie Fengtang had never cultivated the Nine Deaths Origin Return Art before, or even the Formless Golden Body, so even if he cut Tang Jie open to take a look, he wouldn't notice anything suspicious.
Xie Fengtang was dumbfounded after Tang Jie brought up the Nine Deaths Origin Return Art. He stared at him and asked, "So you went to Tiger Roar Valley every day for the last month to experience life-or-death struggles?"
"Yes!" Tang Jie confirmed.
His trips to the Tiger Roar Valley also perfectly matched up with the Nine Deaths Origin Return Art, addressing all his problems and giving the most reasonable answer. It explained both his explosive growth in strength and his frequent trips to Tiger Roar Valley.
"Why would you memorize this spell art?" Xie Fengtang was confused. The Divine Firmament Sword Classic had so many spell arts, so why did you choose this suicidal one?
"Because this art was simple. I didn't have time, so I sought out simple arts to memorize, and only afterward did I realize that it was the Nine Deaths Origin Return Art," Tang Jie lied without the slightest change in expression. "As I already memorized it, how could this student not accept learning and using it?"
"Absurd! You don't know how suicidal this was. That you're still alive can only be due to pure luck!" Xie Fengtang was infuriated by Tang Jie's answer, pointing at him and cursing. Though his rebukes were harsh, they came out of a place of concern. "Do you know how dangerous your actions were?"
"As Headmaster said, each record on the wall represents countless lucky encounters, strength, stories, sweat, and blood… This student is of average aptitude. If I seek progress, I cannot take the well-trodden path."
Tang Jie spoke in a calm tone, but this calmness concealed the mindset of someone who had grown indifferent to death.
Although it was false that he had cultivated the Nine Deaths Origin Return Art, it was true that he walked the tightrope of life and death, and his path was no less dangerous than cultivating this art. Thus, his emotions at this time were not feigned in the slightest.
Someone of Xie Fengtang's experience could naturally hear the weight and bitterness in Tang Jie's tone.
The perfect lie sometimes wasn't about the contents. Sometimes, the skill of the actor mattered more. At this moment, Xie Fengtang had no more doubts about Tang Jie.
Xie Fengtang couldn't help but sigh at Tang Jie's willingness to walk the path of danger to reach success. "Forget it. In the end, the academy didn't think things through properly for the art transmission. I will have Heaven One Pavilion remove this art so that it cannot be passed on to students in the future. This art is far too dangerous. How about this? Cease cultivation of this art and I will give you additional compensation."
"Yes!" Tang Jie respectfully replied.
Xie Fengtang sighed in relief when he saw how sincere Tang Jie was being. "Regardless, you did establish a new record in the Celestial Defense Hall. According to the academy's rules, you deserve a reward."
This was the main reason Xie Fengtang had summoned him.
According to the academy's rules, a reward was to be given both for reaching full points and for breaking a record.
The reward for full points was a single True Essence Pill. It wasn't too valuable—around one hundred spirit coins. After all, it actually wasn't too hard for students to get full points. They just needed to train hard to get it.
But the reward for breaking the record was much better.
The rules of the Basking Moon Sect stated that the Basking Moon Sect would award ten spirit jades to anyone who could leave their name on the record walls of the Seven Celestial Halls. Besides that, Basking Moon Academy could issue its own reward, with the exact details left to the school to decide.
Ten spirit jades was equivalent to ten thousand spirit coins, which was the largest reward Tang Jie had received to date, but it was issued directly by the Basking Moon Sect.
This wasn't strange. It could be compared to a student breaking the record at an athletic competition, whereupon the city's education department would give a reward of ten thousand in cash, which wasn't much at all in the grand scheme of things.
As for the school's internal reward, it was normally perfunctory and decided by the headmaster.
After handing over the ten spirit jades and one True Essence Pill, Xie Fengtang smiled. "The spirit jades are a reward from the sect. According to the rules, the academy also has a reward for you. Is there anything you need?"
Even for Xie Fengtang, a new record set was an honor, a meritorious deed, an achievement.
It was like a famous person appearing in a school. The entire school would be able to bask in the glory.
This was exactly why Miser Xie had once more gotten generous, asking if Tang Jie wanted anything.
Tang Jie hurriedly replied, "This student wishes to cultivate the Dao of Tools, but lacks the resources to do so."
"The Dao of Tools?" Xie Fengtang was taken aback.
Basking Moon Academy did have classes for pills, talismans, formations, and tools, but it required a significant investment from students.
Learning these miscellaneous topics required an additional fee, and there were various other expenses besides.
Forging tools required buying one's own materials, making talismans required buying paper and ink, and pills and formations necessitated buying a pile of materials. The school provided all these materials, but they all came at a price. You had to buy whatever you needed.
As for whatever was made, once the school had inspected it and confirmed that it met the standard, it could be sold, and the student would keep the money. But given the abilities of the students, making money would require a period of hard study first.
Considering the low status of these auxiliary fields, the high investment, and the extra focus and attention they demanded, most students weren't willing to learn them. The people who tried out these pursuits were usually students who lacked talent but came from families of some wealth.
After a moment of shock from hearing Tang Jie's request, he frowned and said, "Your performance in cultivation has been remarkable, so there is no need for you to learn these side studies. Dividing one's attention is a major taboo in cultivation!"
Tang Jie chuckled. "There are three reasons this student was able to give such a remarkable performance. The first is that Headmaster compensated me with resources for the fright I received after that one incident. The second is that I received an art transmission from the Divine Firmament Sword Classic. The third is the Nine Deaths Origin Return Art. But when I look back at it, it becomes clear that none of these three can be repeated. This student does not dare to put his hopes on luck and so must seek out a path to long-term prosperity."
"I see." Xie Fengtang found the argument rather reasonable.
Tang Jie truly did have his current level of strength due to a mixture of coincidences and lucky opportunities, but in the end, he had a five-cycle Jade Gate. If his luck ran out, he would eventually fall behind.
This being the case, he naturally had to think of a way to improve himself.
But while the auxiliary fields could serve as a source of income, they would delay one's cultivation. In the end, whether one quickly succeeded or ended up hurting oneself would depend on the individual.
After some thought, he nodded. "Since that's what you want, I can let you learn tool crafting without taking the test and exempt you from paying the class fees, but everything must be achieved through your own effort. If you find that you lack the talent, it would be best if you gave up early."
The auxiliary classes cost two hundred spirit coins a year, so ten years was two thousand coins.
The reward Xie Fengtang had given Tang Jie wasn't bad, but he was only being so generous because Xie Fengtang rather liked him and also suspected that he was someone else. He probably wouldn't have been so straightforward if this had been someone else.
After all, the true reward for breaking the record was ten spirit jades. The academy's own reward was just an extra.
And even this wasn't enough. Xie Fengtang added, "Since I'm having you stop cultivating the Nine Deaths Origin Return Art, I must give you some compensation. Go to Spirit Platform Pavilion and select a middle-grade spell weapon for yourself."
"Headmaster, thank you for your generosity!" Tang Jie loudly said.
There was truly nothing better than exchanging a spell art that he had never learned for a middle-grade spell weapon!
Haaa, I should have said four and a half, Tang Jie greedily thought to himself.