Chapter 33: End of Exams, Brothers Lay Their Hearts Open
A generous amount of time was given for the exam and Jiang Chen wasn’t unduly worried. This third exam was a walk in the park for him. With the reading abilities that his past life had cultivated for millions of years, he had developed an almost photographic memory for things that needed to be committed to memory.
Therefore, this little bit of rote memorization was no sweat for him.
He inked in his name with a grand flourish of his brush and started to answer the questions.
About an hour later, he had completed the rote memorization problems to his satisfaction.
The creative portion was next. This section’s questions would be more flexible and deeper as well.
Of course, with Jiang Chen’s experiences, these questions were still so low and crude that they were just a joke to him. However, he still structured his answers very seriously.
Although the topics were shallow, it wouldn’t do for his answers to be too insightful. With the Eastern Kingdom’s standards of theoretical knowledge, it was unlikely for the kingdom to be able to digest anything that was too convoluted.
With Jiang Chen’s knowledge, if he really answered too profoundly, then it would be no different to him handing in a blank exam paper.
Anything too profound wouldn’t be understandable... then what difference would there be to answering nonsense?
Therefore, Jiang Chen racked his brains to start from this world’s foundation of knowledge, and elaborated with some innovation.
These answers were actually ranked as very low knowledge in his knowledge banks. But Jiang Chen was still a bit worried that he had gone outside of the box and created some unnecessary trouble.
Thus, he repeatedly held himself in check and finally overcame the urge to really elaborate. He controlled the summary for the creative section and held it at a level appropriate for knowledge found within the Eastern Kingdom.
Doing it this way actually created more work for him. He double checked his exam paper after an hour, discovered that it was impeccable, and then turned it in.
The organizer in charge of this exam sealed Jiang Chen’s exam into a box in accordance with the rules.
“Jiang Chen, this exam needs to be read by senior officials and graded by officials from the various subjects. Do you understand this rule?”
There was indeed such a rule and Jiang Chen paid it no heed. He nodded.
No matter who graded it, this exam was sure to pass. Jiang Chen was completely confident about this point.
It was already dusk when he’d completed the three foundational exams. Fatty Xuan jogged as he kept up with Jiang Chen. With his weight and body shape, it was tough for him to keep up with Jiang Chen.
Fatty Xuan was panting heavily after a short distance. “Brother Chen, wait for your brother!
Brother Chen, I’ve reserved a table at the Autumn Crane to celebrate you passing the three foundational exams. I knew a long time ago that Brother Chen must be a wolf in sheep’s clothing. You didn’t pass the exams before to purposefully portray that you’re weak. Heh, numbing the enemy through strategy!”
Fatty Xuan’s fawning words flowed like the tides and he was utterly unembarrassed in doing so.
“Let’s not go to the Autumn Crane.” Jiang Chen said faintly, thought for a moment, and sighed when he saw the earnest Fatty Xuan and Hubing Yue. “Let’s gather at my place tonight.”
Hubing Yue nodded, “Yes, Brother Chen is correct. My old man has also said that there is too much going on within the capital recently. We should avoid going to places like the Autumn Crane.”
“Heh heh. If Brother Chen says not to go, then we won’t go. Besides, going to Brother Chen’s manor just means more face for us brothers, right?” Fatty Xuan was an easygoing character and went with the flow instead of stubbornly sticking to something.
As a personal body servant, this was Jiang Zheng’s moment to shine. He immediately spoke up when he heard Jiang Chen’s words, “Your steward will return home to make preparations.”
Fatty Xuan and them were even more relaxed once they reached the Jiang Han manor.
This was also the first time that Jiang Chen had gotten together with his best friends since arriving in this world. He was in good spirits, and listened raptly to fatty Xuan and the others talk of all that had happened before.
“Brother Chen, wouldn’t you say that that Yang Zong is completely heartless? To think that you took such care of him back then, and he recoiled from fear and shrank from responsibility after something happened to you. He hunkered down and was too afraid to interact with us. Looks like this person is unreliable. And I even treated him as a brother before. What a shameful person!”
Fatty Xuan was quite impassioned when it came to Yang Zong.
On the other hand, Jiang Chen laughed easily and decided to ignore the matter. Everyone had their own ambitions. Yang Zong had chosen the pursuit of profit and a side that benefited him instead of choosing his brothers. That was his choice.
Except, Jiang Chen naturally struck off Yang Zong’s name from his heart.
Fatty Xuan eased off crucifying Yang Zong upon seeing that Jiang Chen didn’t join in. He changed the topic to the Hidden Dragon Trials.
“Brother Chen, do you actually have any ambitions when it comes to the Trials?” Fatty Xuan had had a bit too much to drink and his tongue had become a bit loose.
“What ambitions?” Jiang Chen smiled.
“Brother Chen, I, fatty Xuan, am a stubborn sort. I don’t think much of any of those premier dukes. I only feel a kinship with Brother Chen, so if Brother Chen soars triumphantly in the sky, then I will smile even in my dreams! Brother Chen, I wish you would aim for those preeminent positions!”
“Indeed Brother Chen, that Bai Zhanyun is just that. You absolutely have the potential to make a play for a position as one of the four great dukes.” Hubing Yue was also extremely fervent as he thought of Jiang Chen’s performance that night.
“Four great dukes?” Jiang Chen murmured lightly and then grinned widely. “The four great dukes are not my end goal.”
“Ah? Brother Chen, then what is your goal? It would also be great if you could vault into the ranks of the top ten.” Hubing Yue said.
“Hubing Yue, are you a silly pig?” Although Fatty Xuan was drunk, his mind wasn’t. With his understanding of Jiang Chen, his tone wasn’t that he couldn’t nab one of the spots as one of the four great dukes, but that he didn’t deign to!
As his thoughts traveled down this path, Fatty Xuan’s immense body shook briefly, his sobriety returning immediately. Looks of unparalleled fervor shot out from his quickly darting eyes beneath his plump eyelids.
“Brother Chen, can it be that your goal is the position of the Eastern royals? Haha, that’s my Brother Chen alright! Great ambitions, damn straight!”
Fatty Xuan was also a slight bit of a bastard. Add to that the influence of alcohol, and that resulted in him completely losing all reservations when talking. He probably hadn’t thought that these words would already clap him as a suspect for rebellion.
“This… Brother Chen, are you for real?” Hubing Yue was gobsmacked and his breathing also grew heavy.
Jiang Chen didn’t know whether to laugh or cry upon seeing how serious these two were. “Fatty Xuan, your imagination is too active. When did I say I wanted to replace the Eastern royals?”
“Then what?” Fatty Xuan scratched his head and wore a perplexed look.
“I am a cultivator. It would be a waste of my life if I pursued momentary wealth. I, Jiang Chen, wish to pursue martial dao with my life. All common wealth and riches are but floating clouds to me.”
Fatty Xuan became completely listless upon seeing how serious Jiang Chen was.
“Brother Chen, this doesn't seem like you. What happened to our previous vows? Didn’t we agree to go crazy together, enjoy everything together, be wild and free together, and weather all storms together?”
Fatty Xuan pouted as he muttered complaints.
“People have to change.” Jiang Chen sighed lightly. “Fatty, since you two are my brothers, I won’t voice false words. Although playing hooky is fun, those days won’t last long. Do you know how many eyes are staring at the dukedom that you hold in your hands, to speak of nothing else? If it wasn’t for the dukedom, on what basis do you have to be a dandy? What ability do you have to be wild and free?”
Fatty Xuan was speechless. How would he not know that to be wild and free together was just a temporary dream.
How could you be wild without strength? Who would allow you to be so haughty?
At the end of the day, they were able to be wild and free together because of a good father and a good reincarnation.
But after their generation had run carefree, what of the next generation?
This resonated deeply with Hubing Yue, “Fatty, Brother Chen is right. I too think that only strength is the true law of this world. Look at Brother Chen’s experiences over the past couple of days, isn’t it a perfect illustration of this rule? People used to challenge us no matter where we went. And now? Everyone who sees Brother Chen dare not even look at us. This is the change brought by strength!”
Fatty Xuan had become an old, lonely man as he despaired, “But you guys also know that I’m a fatty that no one takes seriously. Training is a luxury for me. I’ve only reached this step because my old man beat it into me with his fists and feet…”
Fatty became more dejected as he spoke. Although he was ordinarily high spirited and looked like a complete dandy, he had a side to him that no one else could see, a fragile side.
His body size and weight had brought many troubles for him that others didn’t have. It also brought for him discrimination and mockery that no one else would understand.
Inwardly sensitive, fatty had always cared a lot about this, but he had to pretend that he didn’t care at all. He learned to self deprecate and to joke about himself.
Except, he had met Jiang Chen when he arrived at the capital for the Hidden Dragon Trials. He had met the only person in this world who didn’t discriminate against him and even called him brother.
At that moment, fatty Xuan had felt that Jiang Chen was his confidant - his brother for the rest of his life, and someone that fatty Xuan would die for.
“Brother Chen do you know? When I first arrived at the capital, I tried very hard to assimilate into the world of the other heirs. But I was faced with their discrimination and mockery no matter where I went. You… you were the first one who called me fatty without a jeering smile on your face. In that moment, I decided that I would listen to whatever you said for the rest of my life!”
Fatty Xuan swiped fiercely at his red eyes when he stopped at this point. “Brother Chen, you were right just now. If we didn’t have a good father, what right would we have to loaf around, to act crazily? Besides, to ensure that my descendants have the ability to be a dandy, I must keep this dukedom!”
A resolute desire that would cause others to straighten with seriousness appeared for the first time in Fatty Xuan’s eyes.
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