Chapter 39.2 Chip Chip?
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In the dead of night, within the heavily guarded walls of the National Academy Vault, a dark figure suddenly shot up into the air, leaving behind a trail of chilling air. Soon, the figure transformed into a large black cat, its eyes gleaming with a sinister green light.
The feline creature gazed at the door of the vault, its expression laced with disdain. Mortal seals and mechanisms were no match for its supernatural abilities.
The black cat sneered. What use were these primitive measures against its powers?
It slinked around the cabinet holding the sacred exam questions, moving with an otherworldly grace. With a flick of its tail, the cabinet, which required three special keys to unlock, creaked open on its own.
From inside the cabinet, a dark liquid was hurled out.
The black cat’s instinctive reaction was to use its spiritual power to deflect the liquid, but the Ziwei imperial aura coiled within the liquid rendered it immobile.
When it regained its senses and attempted to dodge, it was unable to avoid the ink completely, and a small droplet landed on its front paw, causing it to scream in agony. Though the liquid was nothing out of the ordinary, it contained a potent Ziwei aura that caused a searing pain to the soul!
The cat rolled around on the ground, its teeth gritted in fury. It was undoubtedly the handiwork of that brainless hamster!
This was unlike any ink it had ever encountered before!
The dense Ziwei aura mixed in the ink revealed that it was at least contaminated with Huo Caiyu’s blood!
The black cat wanted nothing more than to go chew that stupid hamster right now.
It gritted its teeth, enduring the pain from the ink on its front paw, and carefully read and memorized the exam questions before sealing them back up exactly as they were. As it prepared to leave, it glanced back at the ink on the ground, cursing silently as it used its spiritual power to clean up the scene despite the discomfort caused by the Ziwei aura.
Meanwhile, inside the palace, Li Jinyu was holding Huo Caiyu’s hand, feeling a bit distressed. “Does it still hurt?”
To deceive the black cat, he had carefully planned to use a small amount of Huo Caiyu’s blood by pricking his finger. But to his surprise, Huo Caiyu had sliced his hand with a knife without a second thought, and the blood flowed out like a stream. Li Jinyu was horrified, thinking that Huo Caiyu might have lost his mind.
This was the blood of the future True Dragon Emperor!
Li Jinyu quickly fetched a piece of cloth to stop the bleeding and summoned a physician, but the wound was deep and it took some time to bandage.
As he watched over Huo Caiyu, who had become pale and weak from blood loss, Li Jinyu felt guilty.
Was this future Emperor a bit foolish?
If he had known, he wouldn’t have come up with the idea of using Huo Caiyu’s blood to trick the black cat!
Since childhood, Huo Caiyu had been training in martial arts, so losing a little blood hardly had any effect on him.
If His Majesty demanded his blood, he would give it to him without hesitation. And if His Majesty demanded his life, he would offer it up without a second thought.
Huo Caiyu aimed to fulfill all of the Emperor’s requests without expecting any reward, but as he noticed the Emperor’s distressed expression, he felt fortunate and decided to use his internal strength to make his face look pale.
As expected, it evoked the Emperor’s earnest concern and heartfelt worry. Huo Caiyu felt his heart flutter with warmth.
In any case, the Emperor at least cared about him.
And now that he was injured and had just been pressed onto the dragon bed by the Emperor, would he…?
“Ah, it’s already so late!” Li Jinyu suddenly looked up, looking worried. “You’re injured, so you should rest early. Zhen will sleep on the other bed.”
“… How could this official sleep on the dragon bed alone?”
Li Jinyu had always felt that this palace belonged to Huo Caiyu, so he didn’t think much about it and waved his hand, saying, “It’s fine. Zhen doesn’t mind.”
He went to sleep on the bed that Huo Caiyu had slept on before.
Huo Caiyu: “…”
Forget it. It was better to sleep on a bed that His Majesty has slept on than to have nothing.
The long-awaited imperial examination had finally arrived, and hopeful scholars with grand aspirations underwent a battery of grueling physical examinations before entering the examination room.
However, the oppressive heat of summer was in full force, adding an extra layer of difficulty to the already challenging examination.
Spring had faded into memory, and the sweltering heat arrived early, transforming the closed examination room into a stifling sauna.
Prime Minister Ye and Huo Caiyu sat atop the invigilation platform of the capital examination room, sheltered by a canopy that protected them from the scorching sun, while servants fanned them from the sidelines.
Prime Minister Ye took a sip of cold tea to dispel the surrounding heat and sighed lightly, “This imperial examination is really harsh on the candidates. They have to endure the oppressive heat for two days straight.”
The examination room was no more than a few paces wide, with narrow beds, desks, and chamber pots crammed inside. Apart from the servants who came to empty the chamber pots at intervals, no one could come into contact with anyone else.
In this kind of weather, it was really torture.
Prime Minister Ye turned to Huo Caiyu with a kind smile on his face and said, “Master Huo should consider himself fortunate for never having to take part in the imperial examination.”
Huo Caiyu responded with a faint smile, “As a person who was born in the wrong era, this official never had the chance to witness the grandeur of the Prime Minister’s imperial examination.”
In his younger days, Prime Minister Ye had participated in the imperial examination, where he faced fierce competition from talented scholars. He had barely scraped through.
But those people in front of him were still more capable than Prime Minister Ye when it came to planning and scheming.
Prime Minister Ye’s eye twitched slightly.
Li Jinyu reclined lazily on a chair in the pavilion behind them, half-listening to their conversation and dozing off intermittently.
In the nearby cage, Dumpling lay sprawled over the wooden railing, his round body flattened out into a puddle.
Li Jinyu was also on the verge of turning into a pancake like Dumpling.
Huo Caiyu noticed the Emperor and his brown eyes flickered with pity. He leaned closer and whispered, “Why don’t Your Majesty go back to the palace first?”
Li Jinyu slowly raised his upper body and spoke softly, “No, Zhen wants to personally oversee the examination.”
The main reason being to keep an eye on Prime Minister Ye and prevent him from causing any trouble.
“Your Majesty still has to supervise the exam during the palace examination. Your Majesty mustn’t tire out the dragon body.”
“Of course Zhen has to witness these scholars’ success!” Li Jinyu sobered up and spoke resolutely, “They will be Zhen’s future officials!”
Huo Caiyu felt both helpless and proud at His Majesty’s determination, and could only instruct the palace maids to diligently fan him.
Although it was still early summer, the palace had already run out of ice bowls. Using ice bowls now would only make things worse when midsummer arrived.
Prime Minister Ye noticed the Emperor and Huo Caiyu standing closely together like a monarch and subject, and couldn’t help but feel a twinge of irritation. He spoke up, “If Master Huo is so concerned, why don’t you personally fan His Majesty?”
Huo Caiyu turned back to look at him and nodded, “Prime Minister Ye makes sense.”
He actually took the fan from the palace maid’s hand and fanned Li Jinyu himself.
Prime Minister Ye: “…”
This time Li Jinyu couldn’t lie down anymore and sat up with a dry laugh, “Zhen is much better now. Huo Aiqing can go back and sit.”
“This official has martial arts skills. This is nothing.”
Li Jinyu gazed at the people around him, inwardly scoffing at their apparent exhaustion. Was this really such a tiring task? You are the future Emperor, have some self-awareness.
In an attempt to regain some psychological balance, Li Jinyu took a fan from another palace maid and declared, “Zhen will do some exercise too.”
He then proceeded to fan Huo Caiyu as well.
The two of them were now fanning each other.
Prime Minister Ye: “…”
His cat-like eyes were going blind.
Were these two rascals doing this on purpose?
The scientific examination had lasted for two days, and now all the test papers were collected and handed over to the examiners for grading. Each paper would be evaluated by three examiners, and if there were significant differences in their ratings, two chief examiners would make the final decision.
As Huo Caiyu watched the examiners carefully grading the papers, he turned to Prime Minister Ye and asked, “Who does the Prime Minister think will be the top scorer this time?”
The Prime Minister replied, “It depends on how well you designed the questions, Master Huo.”
Huo smiled faintly, but before he could answer, two examiners approached them with a disagreement over a particular answer sheet. One thought it was excellent, while the other thought it was below average.
This puzzled several examiners nearby. Although different examiners had their own preferences and tendencies, the general level of the answers should not have a vast disparity. Why did these two examiners have such different evaluations of the same paper?
“Master Zhang, speak truthfully with your conscience. This response paper is well-crafted, with compelling evidence and arguments that shine, how can it only be worth a below-average score?”
The other examiner refused to give up, his eyes narrowing in disagreement. “Master Sun, while this answer sheet is indeed well-written, it deviates from the intended direction of the examination. It may be a masterpiece in composition, but how can it be given a high rating for a scientific exam?”
Huo Caiyu raised an elegant eyebrow and smiled. “Gentlemen, let’s not argue. Why don’t we have a look at the answer sheet in question?”
The two examiners handed over the answer sheet, which Huo Caiyu quickly scanned. He smiled, pleased with what he saw. “What is the Prime Minister’s opinion?”
Prime Minister Ye stroked his beard and spoke slowly, “This minister thinks this answer sheet is indeed well-written.”
“This official agrees,” said Huo Caiyu, nodding his head.
The examiner surnamed Sun suddenly looked smug.
However, Huo Caiyu continued, “But has the Prime Minister misunderstood? The topic for this examination was originally to argue the ‘drawbacks of using severe punishment’, yet this candidate has elaborately discussed the ‘benefit of using severe punishment’… How can it persuade the highest-rated officials?”
As soon as these words left his lips, Master Sun’s face visibly changed, and he blurted out, “Isn’t the topic about discussing the benefits?”
Master Zhang was confused and refuted, “Isn’t the topic about discussing the downsides? Has Master Sun made a mistake?”
“That’s right.” Huo Caiyu raised an eyebrow slightly, his smile unchanged, and turned to look at Prime Minister Ye, “While it’s possible for ordinary examiners to misunderstand, surely the Prime Minister did not misunderstand as well?”
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