In June, the Great Heat approached and it was scorching hot.
These few days, it was incomparably hot and stuffy day after day. Many rivers had dried up and all the crops on the field had withered. The entire city was only hoping for a heavy rain. If this rain did not come, there would be a drought.
Li Jimao came back after working in the field and he was bathed in sweat. Once he reached home, he poured water on himself and fanned himself hard with a cattail-leaf fan in the hall.
“You son-of-a-bitch—Save some water!” Li Yamao poured a cup of cold water for him.
“It’s your turn to go in the afternoon.”Li Jimao gulped the cold water down, wiped his mouth, and told Li Yamao, “Carefully tan into a dead dog.”
“My foot,” Li Yamao said back, “I could do a Great Heavenly Circulation today, so you have to catch up. If both of us can cultivate into immortals, we don’t have to suffer like this anymore.
Li Jimao sighed, “It’s easy to say that.”
A month without rain, it was another year of famine within a thousand miles of the barren land of Fujian, Guangzhou, and Guizhou. How many young youths were the same as these two brothers, hoping for luck to getting through the Shangling Examinations, breaking away from the human world from then on and spending their days as immortals.
Watching the sun move to the middle, Li Yamao said, “Let’s find Brother Lin and eat.”
Brother Lin naturally did not have any food at home. Both of them had to bring it over every day in the past two months.
When they arrived, Lin Shu was practicing with his sword under the tree.
A three-feet Poplar tree branch was tilted with a dragon fruit flower. Both brothers observed it for a very long time outside the door. It was only the five basic methods – point, stab, split, chop, raise. They did not see any new sword moves.
Actually, it was not that Lin Shu was unwilling to practice something else. His little foolish body was simply too frail. Over two months, he ate and drank on time, but did not see anything changing for the good. He was already out of breath wielding a tree branch, let alone other complex sword moves.
He was a bit dizzy. Li Jimao and Li Yamao came to find him in time so he put down the tree branch and went back to his room.
These few days, both brothers came to find him frequently. Sometimes, they would ask him things related to the mechanisms of Qi and acupuncture point. Sometimes, they only came to play——Talking about it, this was the first time someone came to play with him.
When he was six or seven years old in his previous life, he was once envious of other people with friends and wanted one or two playmates. However, he could only think about it. From the time he had memories, he was already with his Teacher——It was said that he was adopted by his Teacher from the orphanage. As for the old man who insisted on tying his long hair and wearing a Taoist robe in modern society, Lin Shu couldn’t think of any ways how he could successfully raise children. So, he always believed that he was stolen from the orphanage by the old man.
After he was stolen out, when he was very young, he started reciting swordsmanship books, learning the Cultivation Method and those things that his peers said……he didn’t understand them at all and he had never even seen a television before. Therefore, he didn’t know how to communicate with the ones around him and didn’t know what to say either. Kids were always playing together but once one didn’t have any friends in the beginning, he won’t have any in the future.
Later on, he graduated from elementary school and entered high school. He finally managed to catch up the pace of modern life. But, he was already antisocial to some extent and didn’t want to interact with people. As time passed, he was unexpectedly good in talking to himself but was a mute to other people.
Up until here, life in the village was simple and repetitive. These two brothers were also very honest and were always laughing and playing around in front of him all day. He gradually got familiar with them. As long as they didn’t come in close contact with him, Lin Shu could live in peace with them and this was also considered a rare experience.
He continued to live in peace for a few days and soon, the Shangling examination was approaching.
Big Mother sent the three of them to the village entrance and told Li Jimao and Li Yamao, “You two done for kids, I don’t care how well you score on the examination but don’t ever lose Xiao Shu!”
Li Yamao replied to her with a grin, “Don’t worry, both of us will bring him along!”
Lin Shu thought for a while when he saw this sight. He had not lost his way before but wondered why he gave an impression to Big Mother that he would be lost easily. He was in a bit of loss, “……”
Big Mother had her gaze all focused on Lin Shu and was worried, “Look at you! You’re still not getting things into your head! It just takes you to let go and you will be lost!”
“He’s listening!” Li Yamao shook her off for him, “He just doesn’t know how to express it on his face, making him look a little slow-witted!”
Big Mother spat in contempt and went a few steps forward, instructed Lin Shu, “Follow them well!”
She was too close to him, Lin Shu grew a bit stiff and nodded his head silently.
Big Mother was then satisfied, she waved her hands and let them leave.
Ning’an Residence is a small county, it was just a few miles from Nanjiao to the middle of the city. They each rode on a grey donkey along the dirt road and Lin Shu brought an additional conical bamboo hat——Big Mother knew he wasn’t in good health and was afraid he would faint under the heat so she added it especially for him.
Lin Shu was carried along by the donkey and at the same time, enjoyed the scenery by the road.
When they just arrived in the city, the streets on both sides were sparse and the buildings were low. They were all old wood, mud houses and not very prosperous. After the memorial archway, they reached the inner city and saw the imposing yamen. There were shops gradually along the streets selling fruits and snacks, shouting one after another and were of peculiar interest.
It was bustling with life until they were about to reach the examination hall and it was buzzing with noise. The examination hall was actually hundreds of square feet, an empty space paved with grey bricks.
Beyond the mass of people, Lin Shu saw an extremely tall bamboo pillar built in front. A green banner hung high over it with the words ‘Shang Ling Examination’. The participants took this bamboo pillar as the center and sat on the ground.
Li Yamao, “This looks unsightly.”
Li Jimao nodded.
Lin Shu thought so too.
But when almost everyone arrived, he felt that the perfunctory and simplicity of the hall was not without a reason——he wasn’t sure if there were 5,000 people in entire Ning’an Residence. There were already 1,000 who came for the examination alone, perhaps all the young people came here to try their luck. Shangling Academy recruited thousands of people in the entire Nan Xia, but the people who were taking the Shangling examinations were already 100,000. If they really arranged a venue carefully and assessed in detail, it was really not easy.
Li Yamao took out a hemp rope out of nowhere, tied one of Lin Shu’s wrists and the other end on his own waists, saying, “There will be a lot of people later, if you really get lost, I’m afraid my mother would hang me up and beat me.”
From 9:00 a.m., the drum was hit three times. The noisy crowd settled down and heard a powerful voice from afar, “Rise!”
With the bamboo pillar as the center, a white complex formation spread out of the bluestone suddenly and after a little while, it was shining brightly.
Lin Shu was unexpectedly drawn away and after a feeling of weightlessness, he opened his eyes again and was already on the mountain path covered with mist. At the side of the road, there was a stone engraved ‘Shangling Dreamscape’.
He climbed up the stairs and after tens of steps, he made a turn. The mountain road twisted around each new peak and he arrived at the summit all of a sudden.
The summit ascended towards the sun and the morning breeze was cool. A shadow of a polite man in blue appeared in front of him and cupped his hands, “Fellow cultivator, please have a seat.”
Lin Shu sat down.
“Where is your home?”
“Fuzhou province, Ning’an Residence.”
“What’s your name, fellow cultivator?”
“How old are you this year?”
“Really a hero out of a young man.”
With these words, the man in blue continued, “Fellow cultivator, please close your eyes.”
Lin Shu closed his eyes.
“Fellow cultivator, please meditate.”
Lin Shu meditated.
The man in blue laughed, “You’re so obedient.”
Lin Shu, “……”
The IQ of this examination system was quite high.