Both ends of the call were silent.
Old Man Yu and Tao Ran both grew taciturn, and the colour of their faces turned red.
Well, let’s be more sophisticated about it - their faces were flushed, and it bore the lovely colour of spring.
They were both awash with a similarly complex sensation right now. Both had spent the better part of their lives accumulating experience in the pursuit of knowledge, and yet they had just been instakilled by an eighteen year old. I might find it easier to believe if you tell me that you’re 18-cm long. After all, we’re both getting old… but can you really believe what kind of waves this kid is going to make? Is he an incarnation of Nezha’s spirit?
“Are you sure it was authored by the three instructors?” Old Man Yu asked one more time. The psychological penumbra in his heart was growing, and he dared not hope for much of a response from Tao Ran.
On the other end of the call, Tao Ran was experiencing the very same emotional upheaval, and he stiffly responded, “Yes… and Instructor Qin is the first author…”
“Good lad!” After several minutes, the tension in Old Man Yu’s heart finally eased up a little bit. Then, he chuckled bitterly, “It’s a good thing… a good thing after all…”
“I sincerely congratulate the First Academy of Cultivators. These three instructors would most certainly become the pillars of the SRC in future!”
Tao Ran nearly choked.
Hang on… Professor Yu, don’t you think that’s a little bit presumptuous…
What makes you think they’re now the property of the SRC? Don’t you think you’re getting ahead of yourself?
They haven’t even resigned from their duties just yet. And even if they cease to be instructors, do you really think the First Academy of Cultivators isn’t going to offer them a better role? What do you take us for? Fine, you might be someone who can go toe to toe against our principals, but… I don’t think we would be willing to cede these talents to you either…
I mean, we’re all academics striving for the pursuit of knowledge… so is there really a need to play so dirty?
Nevertheless, Tao Ran wasn’t prepared to engage on this front with Professor Yu, and he simply glossed over the implications of Professor Yu’s gratulatory words with a dry cough, “Then, Professor Yu, about this research paper… do you think…”
“This paper definitely has the potential to be listed as one of the top ten research papers of the year.” Professor Yu cut Tao Ran off before he could even finish his question, “I know that the First Academy of Cultivators is now like a hot seat, and all eyes are on you. You will only be able to clamp down on the flapping lips out there if you can come up with something substantial. Well, you’re just in luck. The best possible results have appeared in the best possible time.”
“Wait for my message.”
Back in Mount Tai City, Professor Yu ended the call with that, and he stared vacantly at the flowing traffic before his eyes as he sighed wistfully, “The younger generation is truly exceeding the older generation… If I don’t work harder, the younger generation is going to dwarf me in no time.”
“To think that you actually found the key to unlocking the secrets to the research topic I’ve been working on all this while. I appreciate the immense favour. Well then… shall we open this door together?”
He collected himself and tapped on the Momo app once more, searching through his contacts for a specific number before dialing a voice call.
“Chief Editor Yao. Is he around?”
If it were anyone else, such as a contributor, the response right now would most certainly have been along the lines of, “Just tell us what you have to say. We’re incredibly busy. If you’re submitting a paper, just send it to our inbox. There’s no need to ask if he’s in.”
But the other end of the call was silent for a second, and then the call was redirected to a person whose display picture was a piece of poop with a smiley face on it. Editor-in-Chief Yao’s voice rang out from the other end of the call, “Academician Yu, how do you do? Sorry to keep you waiting. Is there anything I can help out with?”
Professor Yu didn’t care for platitudes at all, and he quickly cut to the chase. He didn’t even ask whether they were busy, “Have you guys finalized the research publication on the next edition of Cultivators Weekly?”
It was because there was no point in engaging in platitudes in the first place. Even if Chief Editor Yao were busy, he would claim to be free to Professor Yu.
Eh? Isn’t this old man rather self-confident? He doesn’t have any issues making his presence known before others at all. So why did he suddenly feel like being alone earlier…
“It’s already finalized…” “I’ll trouble you to retract it.”
Chief Editor Yao: ……
Do you think I’m very free to be playing games with you?! Or is my phone transmitting the wrong message to me?!
Damn it! I knew I shouldn’t have answered your call. Chief Editor Yao rolled his eyes on his end of the call.
He had just picked up the call, only to be slammed so hard that he was beginning to question life. It took him three full seconds to gather himself and smile genially as he clarified, “Professor Yu, are you… going to publish a paper?”
Professor Yu was truly a man of no nonsense. He promptly sent a word document to Chief Editor Yao, accompanied by a string of instructions, “Publish this paper next week. And dedicate a full page to it. I’ve personally verified all of the premises set out within the paper. It all checks out. I’ll trouble you to make the necessary preparations.”
Yan Capital, at the headquarters of Cultivators Weekly. Chief Editor Yao opened the word document. If Professor Yu claims that he wanted to publish a research paper, few people were in a position to say anything about it at all - even if an entire page were to be dedicated to the publication. However, he quickly adjusted his glasses in shock as soon as he scanned the cover page of the research paper.
The Mutation of Yin Spirits: Causes, Developments and Possibilities.
First author: Instructor Qin Ye, First Academy of Cultivators.
Co-authors: Instructors Su Feng and Lin Han, First Academy of Cultivators.
“It’s not Professor Yu’s guys?” He was taken aback, “Qin Ye? I’ve never heard of this guy before, and yet you’re asking me to dedicate a full page to his paper? I wonder if Academician Yu is trying to promote his own protege. But even if that were the case, wouldn’t this be going a little too far?”
It wasn’t that he was looking down on anyone. Rather, a person’s academic reputation needed to be built up over time. No academic had become famous overnight. The work in the industry was built upon extended research and experimentation, as well as finely-crafted words and arguments. Anyone who possessed these qualities would never be completely unknown or unheard of in the small circles of the academic industry, even if he wasn’t directly credited in the writing of any research papers.
But Qin Ye was a name which was completely foreign to him. What basis was there to dedicate a full page to his research paper?
With immense curiosity in his heart, he began to read the paper.
One minute into the paper, and his furrowed brows eased up and loosened itself.
Three minutes in. He gasped in astonishment, and gripped tightly to his phone, staring transfixed at the contents of the paper.
Eight minutes in. Chief Editor Yao subconsciously shot to his feet and smacked his desk. He abruptly glanced at the symbol at the top of his phone representing an ongoing call with Professor Yu, but then immediately looked down at the paper and read on.
A full fifteen minutes later, he finally sighed and set down his phone. He shook his head slightly and tapped his fingers on the table introspectively.
He was mulling over what he had just read.
This was an evocative paper. For the last fifteen minutes, he felt like he had been taken on a roller coaster ride. He started out with contempt. One minute in, his eyes brightened. Three minutes in, he proceeded with caution. Eight minutes in, he was enthralled. And by the end of fifteen minutes, he was already transported to a different realm of understanding altogether.
“What a professionally written paper… Poignant substantiation, cogent, novel, incisive in its arguments, and logically watertight… Why haven’t I heard of someone like him before? Is he truly a newbie? An instructor from the First Academy of Cultivators? Not a professor?”
He finally opened his eyes and stared at his phone with an uncontrollable twitch in his eyes. That’s demonic… to think that a hidden talent would suddenly reveal itself with a glorious display of swordsmanship like that…
“Academician Yu.” He took several deep breaths and finally addressed Professor Yu once more, “Which esteemed academic was responsible for this? The writing style, logic and substantiation don’t look like they’ve come from a novice at all!”
Professor Yu suddenly grew taciturn.
Kid… that comment cuts deep…
Do you think I wasn’t surprised when this demon suddenly reared its ugly head? I’d just been in Mount Tai City, minding my own business and working on my own research project, when I was suddenly sneak-attacked by this kiddo… This kid even found the key to unlocking the door that had been shut to me over several years of research… And you’re asking me? Can I give you a tight slap to the face?!
“What do you think?” Professor Yu sensibly glossed over the elephant in the room and responded.
What do I think?
Chief Editor Yao didn’t respond right away. The seemingly innocent question had triggered a massive tidal wave of emotions in his heart once again.
If one were to say that he was startled by the well-founded premises, the novel thesis statement, and the professional writing style, then the research paper in its entirety could be said to have been absolutely earth-shattering to him.
There were no doubts in his mind. There was no desire for any form of refutation. And this was the case from start to finish. In fact, as soon as he finished reading the research paper, he was immediately filled with a sense of concurrence, as though the paper had merely stated facts, principles and universal truths.
And yet, it was a thesis!
All thesis papers are an invitation for discourse! Discourse! It’s not meant to be taken at face-value, as though the author was merely stating facts. It’s meant to be disputed by the major research institutions around! Yet there isn’t a single sense of controversy in anything he’s written!
It could only be said that the quality of the paper was so high that the premises and substantiating proof and arguments were so sharp and well-crafted that they were practically flawless. Such a watertight research paper was incredibly rare, even across all of the greatest papers published in the history of Cultivators Weekly.
“Incredible.” He sighed, “It’s truly incredible. This paper… will probably send waves rippling throughout the cultivation world. It might even be the key to tackling zones of supernatural incidents that are ranked higher than the usual hunting zones. Such a flawless paper more than justifies dedicating an entire page to its publication. In fact… this paper is undoubtedly far more exciting than what some of the older academicians and professors can bring to the table!”
“Great. Make the arrangements, and notify the academy as soon as possible.” With that, Professor Yu ended the call.
Chief Editor Yao sat at his desk, staring at Professor Yu’s dimmed display picture. He sighed and furrowed his brows. Some moments later, he sighed again and picked up the phone on his desk, “Dr Luo.”
“Ah… Oh, how do you do, Editor-in-Chief Yao.” A sprightly voice sounded from the other end of the call, “What can I do for you? Have the preparations been made for the publication of my paper? I sincerely thank you for going through the trouble…”
Chief Editor Yao rubbed his temples as he promptly interjected, “It’s like this - there’s going to be an important paper that will be published in the upcoming edition of Cultivators Weekly, so your research paper is going to have to wait in line.”
There was a moment of silence.
Seconds later, Dr Luo responded with disbelief, “How is that--... Chief Editor Yao, didn’t we have an agreement? What’s with the sudden--...”
“Like I mentioned earlier, we’ll see when the time comes. And it was just a possibility back then, so why are you being so uptight right now?” Chief Editor Yao crossed his legs and tapped his finger impatiently on the desk, “Old Luo, everyone knows that exceptional papers will come along from time to time, and other second-class papers would naturally have to give way to it. After all, these papers generally act as fillers. But now that such an exceptional paper has come up, we’ll need to give it first priority… And as for the three hundred spirit stones of yours, I’ll transfer these back to your account. This is merely a courtesy call to you.”
And with that, Chief Editor Yao hung up the phone before Dr Luo could even respond. Then, for some reason, his hand gravitated towards Qin Ye’s paper, and he picked it up to read it again.
Again, and then again, for a total of three times straight. Then, he finally set it down. Sighing with great emotion, he picked up his phone without hesitation.
“Hello, how are you? Is this Principal Xu?”
Qin Ye was oblivious to all of these things. He was with Su Feng, Lin Han, and a dozen or so other students, celebrating the completion of their thesis paper right now.
This was a friendship forged through a bitter struggle against an academic paper until they finally conquered it. After an arduous journey spanning twenty whole days, they finally felt the shackles come off their bodies, and they let their hair down in a night of revelry.
They were in a skewers bar on campus grounds. The party was in full swing, and the atmosphere was filled with joy and celebration. Su Feng raised his cup and declared, “Brothers, come, raise your glasses! Here’s a toast to the long nights we’ve spent grinding down the thesis paper!”
“To the thesis!” “To the damned thesis paper!” “Cheers to the paper I never want to see again!” “Here’s to all of the brothers and sisters who have left their marks on the paper!” “Thank you instructors for extending such an opportunity to us!”
“Cheers!!” With an uproarious cry, everyone downed the glass of their preferred alcohol. Qin Ye also smiled and drank everything with a large gulp. As he set down his wine glass, he glanced about at the other empty glasses on the table with great satisfaction. In that instant, his heart was filled with fullness and relief.
1. Nezha is a protection deity in chinese folk religion. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nezha