“Don’t take it too seriously.” Tao Ran reiterated again, “There’s a difference between scores and actual abilities. I remember when I first entered the Special Investigations Department, the results of my semi-annual evaluation was only a C-grade.”
Qin Ye didn’t say anything more. He had already opened the envelope by now. There were over ten sheets of paper inside. He did a quick count and confirmed that there were fifteen sheets of paper.
Furthermore, these sheets of paper were stapled in threes. In other words, three sheets of paper represented one instructor. There were a total of five faculties in the academy, namely the Faculty of Underworldly Craftsmen, the Faculty of Science and Research, the Faculty of Manufacturing, the Faculty of Theory, and the Faculty of Combat. These fifteen sheets of papers represented the preliminary assessment of the instructors that were slated to be giving the opening lecture on behalf of each faculty tomorrow.
He scanned the papers. The first column represented the psychological evaluation.
The second column: Past combat experience.
The third column: Teaching experience.
The fourth column: Character assessment.
His eyes scanned quickly through the papers. Instructor Huang, Instructor Bai, Instructor Meng and Instructor Li were all in the region of sixty years old, and all of them were given the preliminary assessment of an A-grade. Yet when he flipped to the end of the papers, the letter ‘C’ quickly caught his eye.
The last three pages represented his preliminary assessment.
“C?” He furrowed his brows and exclaimed in bewilderment. Yet, after repeatedly reviewing the papers, he finally confirmed that there was no mistake - it was indeed his name.
Zhou Xianlong and Tao Ran were closely scrutinizing his expression. Unfortunately, given Qin Ye’s wealth of life experiences, how could they possibly see any traces of dissatisfaction in his eyes? Instead, Qin Ye casually slapped the papers back on the table and smiled, “Is it because they think that my track record isn’t brilliant enough?”
“No. Your track record is unmatched by all instructors of the academy who are under the age of thirty.”
“Then, is it because they think that my cultivation base isn’t strong enough?”
“No. An eighteen years old Soul Hunter is unprecedented.”
Qin Ye nodded. No wonder… no wonder these two did so much to prepare me for this damning news.
It suddenly occurred to him why the schedule wasn’t released yet. He understood why Tao Ran had informed him that the students didn’t know the schedule, and that everything would only be disseminated at 7.00 p.m.
It was only 4.30 p.m. right now.
The teaching schedule had only been disclosed to instructors thus far, and there was still two and a half hours before the rest of the school was to be officially notified of the same.
In other words… there was ample time for manoeuvring. For instance… in the event that they wished to postpone the first scheduled lecture to a later time or date.
“Then, forgive me, but I find it difficult to accept their preliminary assessment of me.” He pushed the information sheets back slightly and leaned back languidly on his chair, “Taking a step back, what’s their preliminary evaluation got to do with the First Academy of Cultivators in the first place? Does the academy really need to look to other organizations for approval before endorsing their own instructors? That doesn’t make any sense.”
Zhou Xianlong didn’t respond immediately. Instead, he ran his finger along the edge of his warm teacup for several moments, before finally responding, “That’s what we initially thought as well.”
“That said…” Tao Ran and Zhou Xianlong exchanged a knowing glance, before Tao Ran continued on his behalf, “Head of Faculty Zhou was the one who received these preliminary assessments at that time. As soon as he scanned through the documents, he immediately gave them a piece of his mind. That said, their explanation isn’t completely unreasonable.”
“Little Qin.” His smile faded away, and his tone grew somewhat somber, “An eighteen years old Soul Hunter may be unprecedented, but it is also precisely because of this that we understand just how much you’ve been through.”
“Although we might not understand exactly the life you used to lead, the fact that you’re able to attain the rank of a Soul Hunter despite being only at the age of eighteen and having no organization to lean on, necessarily lends credence to a life of bloodshed and carnage. Growing up in such an environment would generally give rise to a hidden character flaw in some way or another.”
“You might not be aware of this, but cultivators are generally required to undergo a period of psychological dredging to cleanse their minds. After all, ghosts are evil, and some of these cultivators may have been forced into a corner and suffered a psychological trauma. That said, you’re different. The circumstances surrounding your recruitment were special, and your stunning achievements earned you an exemption in this regard.”
“Nevertheless, what the evaluation team means is this - you may have a deep and profound understanding of Yin spirits, but doing is completely different from teaching. Furthermore, would you be able to build rapport with the students? You’ve got a lot of hands-on experience, but would you be able to gradually ease your students into the waters before bringing them to the deep end? Furthermore, you’ve never had any teaching experience nor any experience working in an office with civilians. They don’t have any intentions of going against you in particular. This was essentially a judgment call that was based solely on your experiences and the data they have on hand. Truth be told, your combat experience rating was A+. This was their assessment.”
Qin Ye nodded his head. Indeed, he could see their concerns. The only thing he had going for him on paper right now was his stellar combat experience. He couldn’t truly compare with the other instructors apart from that.
All of the other instructors giving a lecture tomorrow had either served in the SRC or the Special Investigations Department for some time, the shortest term of which was at least several years. Apart from that, they had even experienced other terms of service with various military departments or civilian offices. That was how they had been chosen for the First Academy of Cultivators. These extensive resumes were all stored in the archives of the SRC and the Special Investigations Department. But what about Qin Ye?
Everything was blank.
The only thing he had was the results from that night of chaos in the City of Salvation.
“This is the Faculty of Combat.” Qin Ye solemnly pointed to the sign outside the door, “How else are we supposed to speak if not with our fists?”
“To put it bluntly, what’s their assessment got to do with me in the first place? How can they make a judgment call without having even given me the chance to try my hand at it? Theory must always be proven by practice after all.”
Zhou Xianlong had never heard Qin Ye speak such incisive words before, and he immediately looked at him with some measure of surprise. However, he nodded, “That’s right.”
“This is the First Academy of Cultivators.”
“The academy answers to only the heavens.”
“Anyone who leaves this place would undoubtedly become a core pillar of the cultivation world out there. Not even the Special Investigations Department and the SRC would be able to reach in here with their meddling hands. If we decide that an instructor should be given a chance, then that instructor shall be given a chance. If we decide otherwise, that instructor would have no choice but to continue honing his skills. The advice of outsiders is nothing more than an opinion. It doesn’t represent our decisions at all.”
Qin Ye was somewhat bewildered, “Then what about you?”
Tao Ran smiled and tapped his fingers on his armrest as he suddenly quipped, “As I said before, the instructors’ performance is closely tied to the teaching credits awarded to professors, while the professor’s annual evaluation is directly related to the distribution of resources to each faculty. Tomorrow, Principal Xu and the other leaders of the academy would all be present to observe the Faculty of Combat’s opening lecture.”
“As for us, we stand on the side of our instructors at the Faculty of Combat.” Zhou Xianlong took over from Tao Ran, “We’re willing to extend you this opportunity. This was our original decision in the first place in any event. I do think that your age would in fact work in your favour. After all, it’s more likely to stir the passion of the students and motivate them to work harder. That said…”
He gazed deeply into Qin Ye’s eyes, “Could you at least give us an indication on whether you’re confident or not? If you feel like you might need some more time to prepare yourself, we could always schedule another instructor in your place. You’ll have a better grasp of the situation after sitting through two or three lectures for the day.”
He continued meaningfully, “I’m not going to lie to you. The Faculty of Combat is the most important faculty in the First Academy of Cultivators, and it’s naturally receiving the most resources and benefits from them. However… this will only continue if they deem us worthy of the resources in the first place.”
Qin Ye was suddenly enlightened.
Rivalry and competition existed where people gathered.
How much resources did the nation allocate to the First Academy of Cultivators?
He wasn’t certain. But the fact that the country was even willing to open its vault of precious national treasures meant that the amount of support given couldn’t possibly have been insignificant! In turn, the academy would also have to allocate its resources among its five different faculties.
Who gets more? Who gets less?
Or should they split it equally among everyone?
Given how the cunning old foxes Xu Anguo and Li Tao had conducted their training at Mount Tai City, there was no doubt they would be putting in place a system that encourages competition and rivalry. You want it? Go get it!
It was a well known fact that healthy competition begets a collective sense of identity.
Under such circumstances, the fact that Principal Xu and the other school leaders were attending only the first opening lecture belonging to the Faculty of Combat revealed just how important the Faculty of Combat was. Thus, everyone was naturally hoping for a flawless performance. And it was particularly so for Qin Ye, who had received special entry privileges to join the First Academy of Cultivators as an instructor.
And this was a form of protection as well.
It was ultimately for the protection of Qin Ye’s personal image. This was the main consideration which led to Zhou Xianlong and Tao Ran doubling down on the class schedule and inviting Qin Ye over to hear his opinion on it. There was a need to maintain Qin Ye’s image as the youngest Soul Hunter in history, together with his perceived status and authority in the academy.
After all, this was an academy.
In an academy, the most important thing wasn’t the ability to purge Yin spirits, but the effectiveness in one’s pedagogy and delivery.
“Thank you.” Qin Ye responded sincerely, and then smiled, “But there’s no need.”
Zhou Xianlong and Tao Ran’s eyes quivered lightly in unison.
Qin Ye stood up and cupped his hands with a wide grin on his face, “Don’t worry. My opening lecture… will most certainly be an eye-opener.”
Besides, I’ve got external reinforcements as well!
And the reinforcement that I’ve prepared isn’t any less influential than any of the leaders at our academy…
Zhou Xianlong and Tao Ran sighed in relief, and Zhou Xianlong cut straight to the chase as he waved dismissively, “Go on then. Since you’re that confident, I look forward to seeing your results tomorrow.”
Qin Ye left. Zhou Xianlong and Tao Ran exchanged glances, and none spoke a single word for some time. Dozens of seconds later, Tao Ran broke the silence, “What do you think?”
“His response isn’t half bad, but… it might be stretching it a little to say that his lecture will be an eye-opener.” Zhou Xianlong tapped the table gently as he continued, “The two principals, three fellows of the SRC, as well as the two professors of the Special Investigations Department’s research division are collectively called the founding fathers of parapsychology. Their collective exposure to the most peculiar and bizarre of supernatural incidents is as vast as the ocean. They’ve probably been exposed to way more than I have.”
Tao Ran was just about to interject when Zhou Xianlong shook his head, “But, so what?”
“I’m the Head of Faculty, while you’re the Professor. We’re the ones in charge of this faculty! The opinions of others would continue to remain as such as long as we don’t give our endorsement of it! Qin Ye is entitled to this opportunity. Why should we let an outsider’s opinion influence our perspective of this issue?”
“If he does well, we’ll applaud him. If he doesn’t, it’s not necessarily a bad thing either.”
He gazed somewhat vacantly at the direction in which Qin Ye had left, “He’s made a name for himself at an incredibly young age, but maturity only comes with trials. His name is already part of the Special Investigations Department’s list of A-listed sproutlings to watch and nurture. We should keep him under our watch and protect him as much as we can. After all… in the upcoming decade or so, Cathay is going to need every bit of such core strength that we can muster.”
“In the worst case scenario, the Faculty of Combat will only be given a poor evaluation. Who’s to say we can’t get it back next year?”
Tao Ran nodded deeply and gazed out of the window at the thriving campus. Seconds later, a smile crept up the corner of his lips, “It’s great to be young…”
Qin Ye was oblivious to all of these things.
After reviewing his lesson plan for the umpteenth time, he turned in early for the night.
He didn’t want to brag. However, the first obstacle that any instructor should overcome is their self-consciousness. Those who aren’t thick-skinned enough would immediately panic and seize up as soon as they took the stage and saw the innumerable pairs of eyes transfixed on them.
But he, on the other hand… had already developed such thick skin that it was comparable with the great wall of cathay.
And as for the content?
Arthis had time and again confirmed that everyone around could only be considered trash next to her wealth of knowledge!
He was standing on the shoulders of giants and backed by Hell’s depository of information accumulated over thousands of years on end. Besides, who is to disprove the contents of his lecture when all of these treatises have already been lost to the effluxion of time?
It would be far more surprising if he didn’t manage to secure the top spot after two months of painstaking preparation work!
At 7.00 p.m. sharp, Zhou Xianlong issued an announcement officially - “Tomorrow morning at 9.00 a.m., S9527, Instructor Qin, shall be giving the Faculty of Combat’s opening lecture at its corresponding tiered lecture Hall.” The entire group exploded with great excitement!
“I-i-i-i-i-it’s finally starting!!” “Holy crap! It’s Instructor Qin! I’m not gonna lie, the reason I joined the Faculty of Combat is precisely him!” “What hidden motives do you have, hmm? Instructor Qin would never fall for you!” “I’m so excited… I can’t wait to hear about Instructor Qin’s life story and how he’d managed to attain the cultivation level of Soul Hunter at the tender age of eighteen!”
“Looking forward.” “Looking forward +1.” “Looking forward +2.” “Looking forward +10086.”
Qin Ye ignored these messages, and turned in after reviewing his lesson plan one final time. The next morning, he woke up promptly at 7.00 a.m., had his breakfast as usual and then adjusted his thoughts and psyche. Then, at 8.30 a.m., he began to make his way towards the Faculty of Combat’s tiered lecture hall.
The Insignia University lecture halls were all well-built and fully equipped with the flair of modern technology. The tiered lecture hall was large enough to hold a thousand people all at once. He stepped into the lecture hall at 8.48 a.m. As soon as he opened the door, the uproarious chatter in the lecture hall immediately died down.
And it became completely silent.
In fact, it was so silent that one could hear each step he took as he walked towards the lectern.
1. This isn’t to say that there are 10086 people who are looking forward to it. Rather, the 10086 here is a reference to the number to dial for the 24-hour customer service hotline that provides professional services relating to mobile communications, business consulting, complaints, etc. Someone was just trying to be funny here.