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By the time Xu Yangyi returned to his room, it was already eleven o’clock in the evening.
“What happened?” A voice could be heard from within the closed room. “I have no choice but to remind you, but the time allotted for the graduation exam is limited to a week. As of now, five days have already passed. The provincial branch is waiting on the Yuyang City branch’s summary report… I hope I don’t have to tell you again how low the Heavens Law graduation rate is. And about how many people are watching each branch’s exam?”
“I found the demon.” Xu Yangyi started up his computer and glanced at the web page. Subsequently, he knitted his brows. “...Mao Ba’er… I’ve warned you many times, you’re only my manager. My allowance each month before I’ve graduated is only a thousand…”
“What’s the problem?” the voice within the room rang out suspiciously.
Xu Yangyi looked at the open string of Taobao web pages, his eyes narrowing somewhat dangerously. “At 50 bucks per piece, the Bountiful Treasures Pavilion’s Purification Talisman has to be circulated for half a month to step into Qi Condensation…The Drifting Snow of Mount Emei’s Nine Hidden Monasteries’ Jade Pools can enhance a smidgen of qi, but the most important aspect is the absolutely great taste… at 500 a piece? A live explanation of the secret to cultivation, a single reward is a hundred bucks, and you gave five rewards, using all of my Alipay… Get the hell out.”
The sound of a lock fell upon the room, and Mao Ba’er ran off without a second thought. Xu Yangyi picked up his cell phone and looked at it. Just great… Of the 10,000 Chinese dollars that he had deposited, only 800 remained.
Ding dong… At this moment, a familiar sound rang out from the web page. He glanced at it.
‘Are you sure you want to mail the Jade Pool Drifting Snow to Yuyang City? According to our regulations, this is our online shop’s final question. To state once more, this store is dedicated for cultivation. Without a photograph, the result will ask you to please seek customer service. Disclaimer: this store is under the protection of a S-rank law by government policy. If ordinary people buy this shop’s treasures as they please, this shop cannot take responsibility for all consequences that happen afterwards.’
Connecting to customer service ID: Mie Jue.
Spry of hand, Xu Yangyi swiftly hit refund.
The shop owner of “Five Year Crown - Mount Emei’s Store for the Cultivation of Your Personal Dao” was stunned.
‘You… canceled?’ Mie Jue asked uncertainly.
‘I bought the wrong item.’ Xu Yangyi typed without feeling the least bit guilty. ‘What about cultivation? It’s just a joke. In what day and age would you still believe in something like that!’
‘No… Fellow Daoist, didn’t you just confirm your identity as a cultivator a moment ago, too? How come now…’
‘You’re mistaken.’ Xu Yangyi shut down the Taobao line without the slightest shame. He opened QQ—the amount of people he had on the app were quite few—to look for a husky portrait and sent a message. ‘Get ready to evacuate tomorrow evening. After this business is finished, we’re going to discuss today’s matter again.’
‘For what does thou blameth the sickness of study… This one understandeth…’
Xu Yangyi narrowed his eyes and looked at his computer screen for two seconds. ‘Are you sure?’
‘Thou speaketh as white as the profundities of ivory silk…’
‘I’m going to report to the school to change my manager right now; I can’t communicate with Martians.’ Xu Yangyi replied.
‘My computer was having some issues just now. Clear out tomorrow, right? Not a problem.’ The husky portrait immediately said vaguely, ‘Relax, it's our first collaboration. I’ll give it my hundred percent!’
Xu Yangyi lit a cigarette and took a faint drag, typing back with a single hand. ‘Your hundred percent is to use my Alipay to foot the bill?’
‘That’s not important… Gosh! It’s time for my beauty sleep! See ya!’
The husky quickly turned grey, not one second more and not one second less. The friendship boat could be said to have capsized.
Xu Yangyi paid no attention to the husky portrait and took slow drags of his cigarette. He clicked on the vendor page of a treasure shop known as “Since Time Immemorial”.
At this time, the doorbell rang.
“It’s here?” he asked to no one in particular.
As Xu Yangyi peered through the peephole, he saw a familiar figure. A customer service agent named Yan Nanzi. Without delay, he opened the door.
“Well if it isn’t Fellow Daoist Xu. Your advance purchase of the lectures, Concerns of a Cultivator’s Self-Cultivation and Future Programming, has arrived. Our instructional series is taught by one of China’s ten great Core Formation cultivators, Daomaster Cloudcrane, who goes by the web-handle of ‘Idle Clouds, Feral Crane’. It is through science, rational analysis, and many real-world examples that offer evidence to dissect the environment of the new cultivation age one by one that we can learn how to properly handle the resources of both humans and demons, and understand how cultivation is a massive industry to the entire nation and the entire globe. This includes the formation of cooperative relationships between these mega corporations. While this module won’t let you win straight off the bat, you’ll end up coming straight through the finish line.”
“...” Xu Yangyi’s hand froze. “I’m sorry, can I pay this in installments?”
“I apologize. This store doesn’t accept paid installments in any form. Perhaps Fellow Daoist may be unaware, but Daomaster Cloudcrane’s web-seminars all come from Heavens Law’s General Hospital. He himself holds the post of academic doctoral advisor to masters students for The Study of Society and Cultivation and The Structure of Society and Cultivation. If you don’t have the opportunity to listen to the teachings of the cultivation world’s premier educational institution, these lessons alone are capable of dispelling the doubts that muddy the way of the Grand Dao. Fellow Daoist, please take a look, the last quarter’s lesson on The Composition of Qi Condensation and How to Distinguish Excellent Social Connections reached 500,000 units in sales. It has surpassed the lessons of the other few Core Formation cultivators in business. Daomaster Cloudcrane is also publicly recognized as the foremost Daoist educator.”
“I don’t have enough money.”
“Fellow Daoist, nowadays, scientific methods are employed to analyze cultivation. This isn’t the Ancient Cultivation age anymore, but that of Cultivation Civilization. How does the human body absorb qi? What is the composition division of the essence of qi? Perhaps it is the proton? A quantum? How is it circulated within the human body? How do the ancient circulation techniques promote qi operation? All of this is analyzed in detail to you by Daomaster Cloudcrane… What I’m trying to say is that to miss out on this would be your greatest loss. In understanding of the financial hardship that many initial-stage cultivators face, our shop doesn’t support payment in installments. However, we do support payment with items.”
“I can pay with items?” Xu Yangyi’s eyes shimmered, and he immediately asked.
The times were different.
Cultivation was a thing of the past that dated back hundreds of years, thousands of years, and as far back as over ten thousand years ago. Currently, cultivation had already become a kind of civilization. In comparison to the ancient cultivators of thousands of years ago, there was a substantial difference!
This so-called civilization has strengthened humanity’s adaptation and perception of the objective world in line with human spiritual pursuit. It was the cultural spirit that a staggering amount of people approved and accepted, and the sum of human innovation and spirit in addition to public order and civility. It allowed humans to cast off the assembly of antiquated situations that composed all societal and natural conduct. These ideals coursed through the concept of family, tools, language, script, conviction, religious ideology, law, the ideas of city-states and nations, and so on.
Present cultivation was a practice polished so quietly that it was secretly integrated into the lives of every person. It influenced small aspects like clothing, food, home, and work, and then major aspects such as secretive mining reclamations and the contrast of strength between nations.
In the age of science, Cultivation Civilization, which was incapable of being explained by science, just happened to slowly become the endless expansion of the primordial apex.
“It’s quite simple. If you hunt a demon, there are auctions undergoing at the Bountiful Treasures Pavilion in every city. Our store holds a close collaborative relationship with the Bountiful Treasures Pavilion and through the appraisal of the Bountiful Treasures Pavilion’s experts, they can send the assessment to our shop. If the object and the price of the treasure are equal, our shop will make the delivery. If the price isn’t the same, we’ll have to ask Fellow Daoist to continue his best efforts. If the value exceeds the price, our shop will reimburse Fellow Daoist with the excess amount. You see?”
A contract adhered to prosperity. Xu Yangyi glanced over it for a while and nodded. “No problem. I’ll have prey tomorrow night. My manager will contact the Bountiful Treasures Pavilion.”
“Very well, I wish you good health and merriment. May you eternally remain without heart devils, not chance upon thunderous calamity, and your cultivation soar by leaps and bounds.”
Shutting the computer off, Xu Yangyi needed a good sleep.
The Heavens Law graduation rate wasn’t high, yet every single graduate was an elite. However, the cultivator community was only so big that they merely made up a million people in China’s preliminary statistics! Did a Dao Master require an intelligent and capable assistant? Did Foundation Establishment seniors want right-hand men to settle their issues without worry and attend to inconvenient matters? Didn’t Qi Condensation cultivators want to join some organization to enlighten themselves? To seek assistance?
There were job openings everywhere, but… excellent talents were still too few in number!
Each year’s graduation exam was everyone’s opportunity to display their abilities. Xu Yangyi had an excellent understanding that even Core Formation masters would be closely following the graduation exam’s list of names. Their think tanks would make evaluations in every aspect, from a student’s potential, inner quality, and strength. A majority of people would enter a branch of Heavens Law, but in case someone was heavily favored by a Dao Master or some super organization, this favor would be absolutely far better than their present circumstances, even if they didn’t know how they would be treated!
Inhaling deeply, he shut his eyes. Tomorrow’s demon extermination would be his first; he was determined to succeed!
Time passed quickly. Through the night, nothing whatsoever occurred. The next day, Xu Yangyi sat down in his seat and drank his tea as always, indifferently observing the chatter of his “subordinates”. He coolly took today’s newspaper and watched all the people in front of him.
To step into cultivation, a person had to be born with something called spiritual sense. Simply put, a person could send out countless “feelers”, and through these “feelers”, they could perceive the world.
In other words, they could see things. Spiritual sense didn’t require him to use his vision at all. On the contrary, perhaps it could be said that this “vision” allowed cultivators see through that which was true and that which was false. For example, he could see things that the ordinary people of Sanshui City were simply unable to. But let alone common citizens, he would still be uncaring, granted that something of such a nature was before him, as well.
Presently, his newspaper concealed his front, making it seem like he couldn’t see anything. Nonetheless, his spiritual sense swept over the features of everyone present.
They chatted and cracked melon seeds between their teeth. No one was paying attention to him.
If he was to slay a demon, he would need firepower support. He didn’t hope for this support to be of any use, though. The critical point was… that after he and the demon truly started to fight, both sides would throw caution to the wind and grind themselves down to the last bone. On one side was one of humanity’s superhumans, and on the other was a living fossil that had carried on since ancient times. Xu Yangyi’s most initial fear was that the demon was much, much older than him by ten-somewhat years. If he didn’t exterminate his opponent, the other would flee, and the entire city would become the floor of an unexpected catastrophe!
As long as his firepower support could obstruct the demon… just a little bit, the government and the agents of Heavens Law would be able to totally suppress the event. In China, the power of the government was formidable. Completely different from that of western multiparty nations.
The question right now, however… was how was he going to make the people who saw him as an eyesore listen obediently?
1. Mie Jue = 灭绝. The thing is, I’m not sure if this is a name or something along the lines of an online username. Given the nature of the characters, I’m inclined to believe it’s more of a screen name if anything along the lines of “Extinguished” as the name.
2. QQ is a messaging app in China.
3. 太极 = Taiji. Referred to in Chinese mythology as the origin of things or perhaps that which is supreme/absolute/omnipotent and omniscient. I translated this as primordial apex.
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