Chapter 48: Night Ship
Translator: Translation Nation/chuchutrain Editor: - -
The next day
When Pei Zi Yun woke up, it was still raining. All the candidates were already awake. His surroundings felt hazy and misty. He stretched himself and went to the toilet, under the supervision of an examiner.
When he came back, he started a fire to boil some water, heat up the pastry and the egg.
He took a bite out of the meat pastry before drinking some hot water, and then took a bite of the egg. This made him feel extremely comfortable, and it was a sustainable diet as well. 'Doing it this way was due to the experience of the old High Scholar.'
'A candidate has to sleep well, eat well, and avoid eating cold food.'
When Pei Zi Yun had finished eating, he flipped over the examination paper and started reading the questions again. Although the value of the questions at the top was much higher than those at the bottom, in order to do well, a candidate had to answer all the questions perfectly.
"Let's start writing!" Pei Zi Yun started waving his quill as he wrote down the answers to the question. He took the better part of the afternoon to write.
After he was done, Pei Zi Yun started eating again. He then took some herbs which he had prepared, and threw them into the hot cup of water. This idea came from the old High Scholar as well. After doing five big questions, he'd be lying if he said he wasn't tired.
"Beyond the capital, a government pays more attention to the capital than the outskirts. Explain."
"The success of a household is dependant on the ability of a merchant. Explain."
"Minister Li Du Zou opened his council for advice from anywhere around the nation. Using your personal experiences as a foundation. Explain the benefits of this."
'These are part of the five big questions that had been answered by Zhang Zhi Gong during his examination, and thus I can use his knowledge to write. However, the standard of Zhang Zhi Gong was only worth 5 or 6 points out a possible 10.'
'Scoring these 5 or 6 points is going to be easy considering I've absorbed the knowledge of this High Scholar who attained first place in the second band. However there are some areas in his ideas which are lacking, and I can improve on.'
'The knowledge that I've acquired were from scholars of the older generation, and their knowledge here might not be relevant in today's context.'
'As for these three questions, what's important is controlling the depth and scale in order not to write anything offensive. I could write an essay that's even more impressive than Zhang Zhi Gong.' Pei Zi Yun started penning his answers down, his flow was very impressive.
Pei Zi Yu nodded his head in satisfaction as he continued writing his thoughts down. When the three questions had been completed, he realized it took him only two hours. He observed his surroundings and realized that everyone else was still buried in answering the questions.
'I've completed it. I have no further use for the charcoal for the final day. Same goes for the candles.'
'For now, I should get some exercise in since there's still some time before dinner.' His arms and legs were stiff, he realized how he had neglected his stretching exercises when he was busy answering the questions. He thus stood up and started pacing around the room. When it was almost time, he used the last of the charcoal that he had set aside for the day.
The fire glowed warmly and brightly, causing the temperature in the room to rise slightly, making Pei Zi Yun feel very comfortable. He then started preparing his dinner and having it. When he had finished, he lighted up the candles.
'The objective for tonight would be to polish my work thus far.' He then concentrated and started looking through his answers for any mistakes to be corrected, and for the entire essay to be improved.
He worked until he was certain nobody would be able to improve on his work further. He noticed that the candles were almost used up as well.
"Time to sleep!"
Just as he lay down, he felt the atmosphere in the examination hall tense up. There were several people tossing and turning in their beds, attempting to get some rest. Suddenly, there was a commotion and he could hear someone shout, "Somebody has fainted!"
"Do not make any noise!" An examiner echoed. The sounds ceased immediately. After some time had passed, the soldiers walked in and carried a candidate out of the room. The rest of the candidates watched on with dread, "This man is finished. He will have to wait another three years before he can take this examination once more."
Pei Zi Yun closed his eyes to fall asleep. After a short while, his mind was clear and he fell into a deep sleep.
The sun made a rare appearance on the morning of the third day, but it didn't make much of a difference to some candidates. There were some who persisted through the night, and among them, some had to be carried out in the morning. It was probably due to their old age, weak bodies, or lack of experience and thus they fell sick.
Pei Zi Yun watched on emotionlessly, yet felt a flutter in his heart. The candidates of the olden days have been driven mad by these examinations. This was because there was such a huge difference between passing and failing this one particular examination.
"I shall check through one more time to see if I've made any mistakes or included any taboos."
Once Pei Zi Yun was done checking, and was certain he had not made any mistakes, he copied his answers onto the answer sheet. It was five in the evening, if he could not finish by the time this candle expired, he had to light another one.
Pei Zi Yun copied his answers carefully and painstakingly onto the answer sheet before leaving them on the side to dry. After thirty minutes of copying, he was done.
When he had finished, it was in the afternoon of the third day. By regulation, he was permitted to leave at this point. Since he did not want to spend longer than he had to in the examination hall, Pei Zi Yun tapped on his table and shouted loudly, "I wish to hand up my paper!"
Hearing that this student was done and wanted to submit his paper, the soldiers all around looked over, their eyes filled with unfriendliness.
After the examiner had come around to collect his examination scripts, Pei Zi Yun started packing his items and left the room. He was feeling completely drained, "I have been practicing the Hundred Beasts Manual and had a good foundation of it. Therefore I have a good stamina, but three days of examinations have left me exhausted."
"As for these weak Elementary Scholars, it must've been really hard for them."
"There had been some rumours saying that some candidates could not even make it to their examination tables. The minute they stepped into the examination hall, they fainted and had to be carried to the doctor. It was probably due to the tremendous pressure on them." Pei Zi Yun sighed, "It's no wonder many people who just focus on their books and not their health can only make it up the Elementary Scholar level, and are unable to attain High Scholar status. Not being able to speak for three days, and being restricted to a chair while using mental strength is a prerequisite."
When he got to the huge door, he saw that there were many people outside waiting. There were families of the candidates, servants, drivers. Without speaking to anyone, he walked back to the Fu Mansion.
The Fu Mansion had been prepared for this. Seeing the young master returning, a servant shouted, "Prepare the soup!"
Pei Zi Yun took a sip of the hot bowl of soup and felt energized. Someone else shouted, "Shower!"
Pei Zi Yun then took off his clothes and took a shower. After he was done, a bowl of meat porridge was served. He finished it and headed to bed where he fell asleep instantaneously. When he woke up, it was already the morning of the next day.
Pei Zi Yun opened his eyes, feeling extremely comfortable. Thinking of the past three days, it was almost as if it was a dream. The entire building was quiet. In the afternoon, he saw an extremely tired Yu Guang Mao return. When he saw Pei Zi Yun, he let out a wide grin and said, "Brother Pei, you should be able to pass this examination right."
Pei Zi Yun smiled and did not reply.
Seeing Pei Zi Yun smile and say nothing, he was not bothered. He laughed and said, "After showering yesterday, I took a meal and fell asleep immediately. I'm considered pretty well off. Look, the entire building is so quiet. Everyone is still fast asleep, and it's not just this building."
"Since the examination ended last night, all the inns in the city are extremely quiet this morning. It's almost the entire capital is asleep, and those that aren't are being extremely quiet so as not to wake anyone up. These 3 days have been extremely tiring."
"But this is already considered pretty good. It's been said that out of three Elementary Scholars, at least one will fall sick with fever. More severe cases would see vomiting and diarrhea. An example would be brother Yi. Thankfully the Fu household have made preparations and doctors treated him quickly."
Pei Zi Yun paused, and thought about the pressure and environment of the examination hall. He thought of how Yi Zhi Quan fell sick, and realized that it was pretty much expected.
"Should we visit him?" Pei Zi Yun asked.
"No, he just took a round of medication in the morning, and had some plain porridge before falling asleep. He looked very tired. I think we should wait until he's recuperated before visiting."
Yu Guang Mao then said, "As for this examination, the spring rain was very heavy. It rained all the way until the third day. Ai, it was tough in the examination halls. I shall not disturb your rest."
He then turned around to leave.
In the blink of an eye, two days had passed and it was morning of the third day. Pei Zi Yun woke up to the knocking on his door. It was Yu Guang Mao.
Yu Guang Mao was tugging on Pei Zi Yun, "Brother Pei, there is going to be a literary event later on, and we're going there to relax. These three days have been hard on us."
Pei Zi Yun had felt slightly distressed after having to go through three whole days of examinations as well. Ignoring other aspects, just three days of not talking, and only writing essays would see many people not being able to endure.
With a plan in his heart, he smiled and said, "Brother Yi, I've not changed yet. Please wait for me."
As he said this, he walked over to his wardrobe and changed his clothes and prepared for the event. When he went downstairs, he saw Elementary Scholar Li and three others already waiting downstairs. They waited for two more people before leaving.
Although they were within the capital, the Elementary Scholars that were in the restaurant weren't from this area, but from Ping An Prefecture. It seemed like some wealthy Elementary Scholar has booked the entire restaurant. When some other Elementary Scholars had reached the Drunken Immortal Restaurant, they found out that it had been reserved prior and were not allowed in.
There were many tables in the restaurant, and the organizer sat in the middle. This scene reminded Pei Zi Yun of a memory that the original owner had. It was the same as a merchant's banquet that he had attended once. The organizer had to fork out money and effort, all to establish networks and contacts. It works the same way for businesses and being an official.
Although these Elementary Scholars hosted the events to meet more people and establish connections, it was a good thing. Pei Zi Yun pinched several peanuts from the plate in front of him and stuffed them into his mouth before taking a huge mouthful of wine.
Yu Guang Mao had been to the capital before to take the examinations and naturally knew a few people around. After drinking some wine, he went to look for some old friends. Pei Zi Yun didn't mind, as he drank his wine peacefully. He too had met some people at the previous event. Just as he was about to take another drink, someone approached and invited him to drink together.
Pei Zi Yun had initially thought of limiting his alcohol intake, but was pressured by everyone around and thus had no choice but to drink with them. As soon as he came to this world, he had been plagued with problems and was stressed up too. Once he started drinking, he found it hard to stop.
The food in the restaurant wasn't bad either. Especially now that it was spring, there were crabs on the menu. The huge crab was steamed and placed before them on the table, emitting a delicious aroma. Pei Zi Yun drank with his company of friends, and was very jovial throughout. He cracked open the shell of the crab to reveal luscious crab meat, and ate till his heart's content. It was probably the fact that these three days of examinations had taken a toll on these Elementary Scholars, so they celebrated it's conclusion with reckless abandon. They drank until the late afternoon, all of them were tipsy.
"Escort these young masters to their rooms." The situation had been anticipated beforehand, and several waiters came to help the tipsy Elementary Scholars around.
Pei Zi Yun was quite tipsy as well, and unsteadily walked towards the waiter to pay for his meals. He instructed the waiter to send word to Fu Mansion and explain that they were going to put up at an inn for the night, and would not be returning. Pei Zi Yun stumbled to his room, and locked the door.
It was late in the night at this point. They had drank all the way until it was late at night unknowingly. The minute he was in this room, Pei Zi Yun knew that he wasn't going to be sleeping. He crept towards the window to take a look, and paced about in his room quietly. After some time, a smile crept up his face, "It's about time."
He unsheathed his sword as it gleamed under the light, "I've participated in the event and drank till I was drunk. I then returned to the hotel to sleep for the night. As long as I remain unnoticed, nobody will suspect a thing."
"Who would've expected me to attack at this point, even before the release of the results, and kill Li Wen Jing?"
"Killing Li Wen Jing would be breaking Zhang Jie Yu's wings, and would cripple him. Wait till I've acquired Dao arts, then I will send you to meet your maker, Zhang Jie Yu. This is called the revenge of a gentleman, from head to tail."
As Pei Zi Yun decided on his course of action, he noticed that the night was at its darkest point. The rain too had gotten bigger. He then leapt out of his window, and ran towards the pier. The rain fell down on him like bullets. At this time, there were very little by the pier as well.
"I've found it. This is the ship!" Pei Zi Yun had asked the ship captain about their travelling times the last time he was on this pier. Just then the captain seemed like he was about to leave. Pei Zi Yun looked around to ascertain that nobody was around. He then nimbly jumped aboard the ship which was about to depart. There was a thud when he landed, but since it was raining heavily, the ship captain did not think much about it. He then shouted, "We're departing now. Passengers, we're heading towards Ping An Prefecture."