Book 2: Studying for the Rise to Prominence of the Human Race
Chapter 1: Entering the Institute
Long Coiling City was the most beautiful towards the end of the ninth month of the year.
Every year around this time, the iris flowers would begin to bloom, forming a colorful sea of flowers.
Past the rippling sea of flowers towered a red brick wall, reaching all the way to a mountain five kilometers away. The wall effectively separated the two sides into worlds of their own.
The wall snaked and wound all over the place, like the Great Wall. It appeared like a dragon with its head and tail connected, forming a large circle. It had the horns, head, body, claws, and tail of a dragon. Because it looked like a hidden dragon, the school became known as the Hidden Dragon Institute. There were even walls specially built to form the eyes of the dragon. Altogether, the Hidden Dragon Institute was composed of six parts.
The Hidden Dragon Institute was extremely lively today.
People crowded the main entrance. Many candidates entering the school were present, along with family members seeing them off. Traffic flowed ceaselessly and countless people were engaged in conversation. Carriages with the names of the clan engraved on them filled the road as far as the eye could see.
Of those who walked to the main entrance, eight out of ten people were from Inherited Bloodline Nobility Clans.
Under these kinds of circumstances, the Su Clan’s small carriage had no right to be publically seen. It was squeezed into a very remote corner. Mingshu stood inside the carriage, anxiously gazing out the window. “Why isn’t Young Master here yet? Today’s the last day to enroll! If he misses it today, he might as well not have attended the Hidden Dragon Battle at all!”
“Why are you in such a hurry?” Li Shu laughed. “Young Master is extremely disciplined. If he says he will come today, he will come. Just be patient.”
Time flew by and before they knew it, the sun was inching closer to the horizon.
As large numbers of students poured into the main gates, their clamor disappeared. The sun was about to fall behind the horizon when two silhouettes could be seen in the distance.
“It’s Young Master! Young Master, we’re here!” Mingshu’s eyes were sharp. When he saw Su Chen in the distance, he began to yell excitedly.
Hearing that voice, Su Chen lifted his head and glanced over. He revealed a trace of a smile.
When Su Chen neared them, they discovered that after two months of traveling, his temperament had become much more concise. His eyes reflected the changes that had occurred to him, changes abnormal for a child of his age.
Li Shu respectfully said, “It’s been two months since I last saw you, Young Master. You seem to have gotten slimmer.”
Su Chen laughed. “Not really, but thank you. How is the clan, and how is Mother?”
“Everything is fine. Did Young Master broaden his horizons during your trip?” Lin Shu asked with a smile.
“I was just confirming some thoughts and ideas I had,” Su Chen replied as he gazed off into the distance, his expression distant. “Although some things were never a mystery, I still had to personally witness them in order to truly understand.”
“Young Master, let’s forget about these things for now. Hurry up and enroll; if we delay any longer, the institute won’t let us in anymore,” Mingshu said coaxingly.
Su Chen headed towards the institute’s enrollment area.
Perhaps because it was already late, there was only one person at the enrollment table. The person sitting there was a middle-aged man with some facial hair, sitting there majestically.
When he saw Su Chen walking towards him, the middle-aged man said, “Show me your identity tablet.”
Every student had an identity tablet. They had received it after the Hidden Dragon Battle.
Su Chen handed him his identity tablet. The middle-aged man said, “Su Chen, fifth place in the Three Mountains Region’s exam, second-tier seedling. You’ll be living in the Clear Sky Tower, room 12.”
Su Chen already knew that the Hidden Dragon Institute separated its students into three different tiers. Tier one was composed of the elite, with two more tiers close behind. The rest were just regular exam candidates. Those who placed in the top three in their exam region were placed into tier one, the top ten into tier two, and the top twenty into tier three. The rest became common students.
Different levels of students possessed different authority.
Common students were not allowed to bring servants into the institute. They lived in the normal student residences and did not receive any special allowances. This was all in accordance to the school’s rules.
Those who were considered seedlings possessed special privileges.
The bearded middle-aged man handed Su Chen a piece of paper. Written on it were the rules that students of different tiers had to follow.
As a second-tier student, Su Chen had five privileges he could enjoy:
1) He could bring one servant with him.
2) He could stay in a residence with denser Origin Energy.
3) He could choose a personal instructor.
4) He would receive a hundred contribution points.
5) He could unlock nine tiers of preferential treatment.
Contribution points were a special privilege granted by the Hidden Dragon Institute. They were fundamental for entering special locations, such as the library.
There were only two ways to obtain additional privileges. Students could obtain contribution points by doing tasks given out by the institute and outstanding performance was appropriately rewarded. The Hidden Dragon Institute had all kinds of competitions, practice sessions, and exams. If it was organized by an official, there would usually be contribution points as a reward. After all, the Hidden Dragon Institute was in essence a place where ability and strength were paramount. Contribution points were often more commonly obtained from good performances rather than completing missions, meaning that the former method was also the more popular way to obtain these contribution points.
As the fifth-ranked student from the Three Mountains Region exam, the one hundred contribution points he received were essentially a reward for his performance.
To many of the exam candidates, obtaining a hundred contribution points was extremely difficult.
Being a seedling at the institute came with many advantages.
However, the privileges that the common students and seedlings possessed were not fixed.
Every year, the institute would hold a large competition to rank their students. If a seedling performed poorly, their seedling status would be given to another student. This was meant to encourage people and prevent them from slacking off. After the first institute-wide competition, some would even become “super seedlings” and obtain an even greater allowance and more privileges.
As he glanced over the rules, Su Chen asked, “Do I need to pick a personal instructor now?”
The middle-aged man laughed. “Of course not. Most people aren’t familiar with the instructors yet, and trying to choose one now is just like a blind man feeling an elephant[1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blind_men_and_an_elephant]. The institute has a rule that you can choose one at any time within the first year after entering the institute. The students are picking the instructors, putting a bit of pressure on them as well. If an instructor has no talent and can’t take in any students, they can even lose their position as a teacher.”
For some reason, Su Chen felt as if the other party was trying to tell him something.
“So that’s how it is. I suppose I’m in no hurry right now,” Su Chen said.
“Mhm,” the middle-aged man said. “I’ll just briefly remind you that the Hidden Dragon Institute has a total of thirty-one classes, including subjects like History of Origin Energy Development, Origin Energy Talismans, Absorption Technique Tutorials, Origin Formations, Raw Materials, Origin Energy Elements, Biology, Herbology, and Alchemy, to name a few. All of these subjects are open classes, and their times and locations can be found on the schedule. You can choose which classes you want to be in and what you want to focus on - the institute will not restrict you. We will, however, give you some tips on what classes to join. Normally, we don’t recommend you take too many subjects at once, and your classes should at least be somewhat related to one another. For example, if you want to become an Origin Formation master, classes like Origin Formation Fundamentals, Raw Materials, and Origin Energy Conversion are all classes that you must take. If you want to become an alchemist, Herbology, Biology, Alchemy, etc., are classes you must take. If you want to become a powerful Origin Qi Scholar, classes like Absorption Technique Tutorials, Origin Energy Talismans, and History of Origin Energy Development are all must-haves......”
After listening to the bearded middle-aged man talk, Su Chen slowly began to understand how taking classes at the Hidden Dragon Institute worked.
Basically, the Hidden Dragon Institute was employing a tactic similar to raising sheep free-range rather than penned up. The students were given a great amount of freedom, but simultaneously it applied a bit of pressure to them.
However, the open classes only contained basic information. If he wanted to learn more advanced material, especially if he wanted someone to individually guide his cultivation and knowledge, he needed to have a dedicated personal instructor.
Personal instructors also had different tiers of relationships with their students. Some were just students, while others were disciples, and still others were even inheritors.
Those in open courses were all considered students. Only those who had chosen a personal instructor were called disciples. Among these disciples, instructors would usually choose a few outstanding individuals they favoured, calling them inheritors. Inheritors were the only people truly able to continue the legacy of their instructors.
“Thank you, sir, for your help.” Su Chen paid his respects to the bearded middle-aged man. He understood the general situation of the institute.
The bearded man rubbed his beard and laughed. “I am called Li Hongyuan, one of the professors at this institute. I focus on how to configure and construct Origin Energy Talismans, particularly fire-type ones. If you are interested, consider taking my class.”
The instructors of the Hidden Dragon Institute also had their own tasks. Whoever taught the most students and taught them well would have a higher status and a correspondingly higher reward. They would also receive more glory. Sometimes, instructors would even fight over an outstanding student. Under such circumstances, it was no wonder the bearded man had actively promoted himself.
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