Chapter 30: Hellhole
Zu Ans dissatisfaction with the Ki Fruits effects stemmed from his poor knowledge of cultivation. In this world, ordinary cultivators took months or even years to raise their cultivation by a single step. Even Plum Blossom Twelve had trained diligently for over two decades in order to reach the level he was at, only for Zu An to catch up to him overnight.
The rate at which Zu An was growing his cultivation would have astounded anyone in the world.
On top of that, the Phoenix Nirvana Scroll, which had activated the Keyboard, was no ordinary artifact. It offered the cultivator the unconventional method of raising his cultivation through suffering harm, and its effects far surpassed that of most cultivation techniques. Zu An had no realistic reference point for levelling cultivation, and thus he was less than impressed by the Ki Fruits amazing effects.
Zu An continued drawing the lottery, and obtained yet another Ki Fruit. In the end, hed used his 22,200 Rage points to draw a total of 16 Ki Fruits.
“Is this the only thing I can draw from now onwards” Zu An muttered in disdain. Doing a quick calculation, hed obtained a Ki Fruit roughly every 14 draws.
He wondered if the chances of obtaining a prize were 1-in-10 or 1-in-20. If it was the former, he was really darned unlucky. If it was the latter, it seemed like his luck was still decent.
Considering how handsome I am, it must be the latter!
Zu An swallowed the Ki Fruits one after another. It took a total of three Ki Fruits to fill up the fourth formation, five Ki Fruits to fill the fifth formation, and eight Ki Fruits to complete the sixth formation. That exhausted his store of Ki Fruits.
Zu An noticed the number of Ki Fruits needed to fill up his formations looked oddly familiar to him. Wait a moment, isnt this the Fibonacci sequence
As a qualified keyboard warrior, he had to be familiar with all sorts of complicated-sounding terms, so that he could appear to possess superior intellect as he prowled the internet forums. He was aware that many phenomena in the natural world obeyed the Fibonacci sequence—the arrangements of cones, pineapples, tree leaves, the number of petals on a sunflower, the construction of beehives, the patterns on the wings of a dragonfly, the golden rectangle, the golden ratio, and so on.
However, he didnt expect these rune formations of his to obey the golden ratio too. Was the Fibonacci sequence actually some hidden rule of the universe
Zu An took no delight in his discovery. He knew that the numbers in the Fibonacci sequence grew exponentially bigger as the sequence progressed. That meant the amount of Ki Fruits he would need in the later stages could reach astronomical figures.
He was grateful for the Marrow Cleansing Pills hed consumed earlier, which helped increase his talent. If hed had to rely solely on Ki Fruits, he would be doomed!
After a quick calculation, he determined that the rate at which his cultivation had grown when struck by the Wailing Whip was faster than the rate of growth via the consumption of Ki Fruits. This was despite his talent only being at the lower Ding class back then! In the end, it seemed that getting beaten up was a much more reliable method.
Then again, he couldnt possibly go looking for women to beat him up every day, right
Heaving a deep sigh, Zu An reached for a cup of water to drink. Unexpectedly, the cup shattered as he grabbed it. He stared blankly for a moment, then realized that this was a result of the sudden increase in his strength.
Out of curiosity, he conducted a few more experiments to test out his strength. This helped him to gradually acclimate to the changes in his body.
When he was at the third step of the second rank, his strength had been roughly equivalent to that of 4 adult men. Now that he was at the sixth step of the second rank, his strength was comparable to that of twenty adult men.
This sparked a thought in his mind. He took out a paper and scribbled out some rough calculations. When he finally put down his brush once more, he wore a troubled expression. It really obeys the Fibonacci sequence. If I sum up all of the numbers in the sequence up to this point, it equals twenty.
“What are you doing” A sinister voice came from the doorway.
Zu An lifted his gaze and saw Old Mi standing at the entrance to his room. His skin still looked like the withered peel of an orange, and he was so thin that it seemed he would be blown away by the slightest gust of wind.
“Youre here.” Despite his outward appearance, Zu An dared not to look down on him. His instincts screamed that this enigmatic old man was a dangerous person to mess with.
Hm Why would I think that hes dangerous Is it because he looks ugly
Zu An didnt voice those thoughts aloud. Even a keyboard warrior had to prioritize his survival over earning Rage points.
“Hmm, you seem to have grown stronger,” Old Mi eyed him with astonishment. Hes been able to make another breakthrough so swiftly. It seems like the Phoenix Nirvana Sutra is indeed formidable.
“I fought with a few people when I went out earlier in the day,” Zu An replied, trying his best to look honest.
“Try striking me once.” Old Mi had no reason to doubt Zu An, mostly because he assumed Zu An possessed no other means to raise his cultivation.
“I wouldnt dare to.” While Old Mi was likely an expert, Zu An was hesitant to hit such a frail-looking old man. It would be horrible if something were to go wrong.
“Theres no need to worry, just use your full might against me. You arent able to hurt me yet,” Old Mi said.
“Fine, Ill strike you then.” Zu Ans thoughts echoed Old Mis sentiments. He gathered his strength and hurled a punch towards Old Mis chest.
Instead of his full strength, he exerted just a third of his might. As a keyboard warrior, it is unbecoming to reveal all of my cards. Hiding behind a veil of anonymity... Pui pui pui! I mean, surviving till the very end is the most important thing of all!
Besides, this was a good chance to test out another one of his theories.
Old Mi raised a shaky hand, but blocked Zu Ans strike without any trouble. “Not bad, not bad. You have already reached the fourth step of the second rank.”
“Really” Zu An exclaimed in astonishment. Just as I thought, its very difficult for others to tell my cultivation level with the naked eye. Its the same as the last time. He was only able to discern my cultivation after seeing my punch.
That being said, it was still possible for a stronger cultivator to tell roughly what rank a weaker cultivator was at.
“Given your rate of cultivation, its not entirely impossible for you to reach the Master stage in the future.” Old Mis eyes were filled with delight. He had thought that Zu An was untalented, but who could have predicted he was actually a healthy bud It shouldnt take long before he was ready to be possessed.
Old Mi chuckled to himself. “I heard that youre heading to Brightmoon Academy tomorrow”
“Thats right,” Zu An replied with a constipated look. There were bound to be plenty of cousins and relatives from the side branches of the Chu clan there as well. His identity as the Chu clans son-in-law was likely to invite a great deal of trouble. At least, that was how the plot usually developed in novels.
Foremost in his mind was not the trouble that he might encounter, but the amount of time he would be wasting. There were too many things he needed to accomplish right now.
“Once you arrive at the academy, look for a child named Wei Hongde. No matter how you go about doing it, make sure to build a good relationship with him. Itll be best if you can become his friend,” Old Mi said slowly.
“Wei Hongde” Zu An repeated the name. “Who is that Is he your cousin Whats the reason behind getting close to him”
“You need not bother about that. Remember, make sure not to reveal my identity to anyone else,” Old Mi replied with a smile. It looked unnaturally eerie, embedded in his withered face. “I imparted a secret art to you, so it isnt too much of me to ask something like that of you, right”
“Of course not! Dont worry, Ill definitely do my best to get close to him!” Zu An smiled his most earnest smile. On the inside, however, he was curious as to how an outsider came to be enrolled in the Chu clans private academy. Could he be a drafted son-in-law, just like me
“Alright, you should rest well.” Old Mi patted his shoulder before tottering away.
After sending Old Mi off, Zu An retired for the night and lay down on his bed. He tried formulating a plan to obtain Yu Yanluos dudou, and racked his brain to the point where a bald spot threatened to appear on his head. However he was unable to come up with anything feasible. He gradually drifted off to sleep, muttering curses at Divine Physician Ji.
The following morning, Cheng Shouping woke him, bringing his breakfast.
Seeing how his meal had been brought to him, Zu An felt his annoyance at Cheng Shouping lessen. It was nice to have a study companion attending to his every need.
After finishing his meal, he dragged Cheng Shouping off to Brightmoon Academy with him. Since it was an order from his father-in-law, he had no choice but to follow it. He would just have to find a chance to sneak out later on.
“Hm Why are we leaving the Chu Estate”
“The Brightmoon Academy is located in the east of the city.”
“Oh...” Zu An was a little perplexed as to why the Chu clans private academy was situated so far away from the estate.
His jaw dropped when he found himself standing before a cluster of magnificent buildings. The entrance was tall and imposing, and there was a plaque with the wordsBrightmoon Academy hanging above. Each word seemed permeated with sword ki, giving them a sharp edge.
Dormitories and other buildings with different functions stretched as far as the eye could see and beyond. He was transported back to his days attending university in his modern world. The one difference was that this Brightmoon Academy was, without a doubt, larger than any university he knew of.
“Is the Chu clans private academy this big” Zu An asked in bewilderment.
“What private academy” Cheng Shouping looked perplexed.
“Isnt the Brightmoon Academy a private academy built by the Brightmoon Duke” Zu An was starting to realize that he might have had the wrong idea.
“Young master, dont spout nonsense! You might bring disaster to the Master!” Cheng Shoupings face paled in horror. He quickly pulled Zu An aside. “The Brightmoon Academy is directly under the Minister of Ceremonies, the leader of the Nine Ministers. It serves as a facility to nurture talented individuals for future service in the royal court...”
It seemed that in this world, all official positions were monopolized by cultivators, from the Three Lords and Nine Ministers all the way down to normal teachers and tax officials.
In order to prevent nobles from dominating official positions—after all, distinguished families had an innate advantage when it came to nurturing cultivators—the emperor had ordered academies constructed across the country, promoting the idea of education without discrimination. Even ordinary civilians were allowed to attend these academies.
Everyone, regardless of their social status, had to study in a county-level cultivator academy in order to qualify for the Three Tiered Examinations, namely the Prefectural Examination, Capital Examination, and Imperial Examination.
The names were similar to what Zu An remembered from his previous world, but the subjects that were being tested were vastly different. While his own world required knowledge of the Four Books and Five Classics, in this world, one needed to know cultivation.
Ordinary examinations would first be held in county-level academies located in major cities, such as the Brightmoon Academy.
Exceptional candidates would be picked out and sent to Administrative Centers—headed by Prefectural Generals—to participate in the Prefectural Examination, where they would be pitted against the brightest talents from all counties in that prefecture. Those who cleared the Prefectural Examinations would be qualified to serve as officials, but they were limited to lower-ranking positions.
Most chose to proceed on to the capital to participate in the Capital Examinations. There, talented individuals from the various prefectures would compete for the title ofCapital Scholar.
Those who became Capital Scholars would then participate in the Imperial Examination personally hosted by the emperor himself. Doing well in the Imperial Examination ensured a higher-ranking starting post. On top of that, Capital Scholars gained the chance to receive feedback from the emperor himself, who was the strongest cultivator in the world. Just a single pointer from him was equivalent to years of cultivation.
Of course, this path was only available to the most talented individuals. The majority of candidates were eliminated in the county-level ordinary examinations. They could either choose to study harder and attempt the examination the following year, or opt for an academic position, where they would work under an official. Most officials were cultivators who were overwhelmingly concerned with furthering their cultivation, and couldnt be bothered to handle cumbersome administrative affairs personally. They hired advisors and subordinates to handle them instead.
These advisors and subordinates were usually those who had failed in the county-level ordinary examinations, or had no talent for cultivation at all. Such jobs were seen as fairly adequate.
Clearly, Chu Zhongtian intended for Zu An to walk this path after entering Brightmoon Academy. Aside from cultivation, the academy also imparted to its students essential knowledge on other subjects, such as law, economics, and so on.
“Young master, stop daydreaming over there and go inside,” Cheng Shouping waved him forward. “Ill be waiting for you at the entrance till youre released from the academy.”
Zu An rolled his eyes.
Shit. It wasnt easy for me to finish my studies in my previous life, but as soon as I come to this world, Im being forced to study yet again What kind of hellhole am I trapped in!