“Your hand needs to be lower. Even lower. That’s wrong. This is the basic salute for when you meet someone of high standing. If you can’t even remember it, you might as well surrender as soon as the contest commences. Why do something pointless?” Jin Zhaoying looked bored out of her skin with her face resting on one hand.
Jin Zhaoying’s voice in the spacious room made it seem as though it wasn’t even summer. Furniture barely occupied any space in the spacious room. In addition, it seemed as though the heat was afraid going near it. All that being said, anyone who knew her genuine nature would realise that she was already being friendly. If someone ignorant was to see her right now, her icy impression would melt.
“L-like this?” stuttered Su Xiao, trying his utmost to maintain his salute posture.
Jin Zhaoying bobbed her head.
Su Xiao exhaled his nerves out.
“Including that, everything is now wrong.”
Jin Zhaoyang heaved a big breath and shook her head. “I’ve been teaching you for half a month; a monkey would’ve got it down by now. What are you even doing?”
Su Xiao jerked his head back as he widened his eyes. “You’ve taught a monkey before? Why did you teach a monkey?”
Originally, Su Xiao was only supposed to participate in the rites contest. Because Tang Ye and Ming Feizhen had vanished, though, Su Xiao had to prepare for all seven categories on his own.
Shen Yiren and Tang Ye may have gone off to search for Ming Feizhen, but Su Xiao remembered Ming Feizhen stressing that he had to win the idol competition. To achieve that, Su Xiao consulted Jin Zhaoying. According to the students of Daren Academy, Ming Feizhen and Jin Zhaoying were in a relationship where they’d share a room with just the two of them. Su Xiao, nonetheless, didn’t believe that. According to Su Xiao, it was totally reasonable for someone as amazing as Ming Feizhen to know such a beautiful girl. After all, he most likely owed her an enormous sum of money.
Su Xiao would take the token Ming Feizhen entrusted to him and frequent Flower Plucking Palace for lessons on rites, music, calligraphy and mathematics. Chariotry and archery were tough to master and certainly weren’t his specialties. Hence, the plan was to strengthen his strengths and avoid his weaknesses. While he didn’t excel at martial arts, he had a superb memory. Moreover, given his foundations in calligraphy and mathematics, Jin Zhaoying was able to help him improve in those fields in a short time. His shortcomings in rites were merely a product of Jin Zhaoying splitting hairs with him.
Someone knocked on the door, prompting Jin Zhaoying to look to Su Xiao. “… Someone knocked.”
Su Xiao flapped his eyelids. “Yeah, so what do we do?”
“… Open the door.”
“You have to say ‘please’.”
“… Ling Xiang, get the door.”
Jin Zhaoying only had two maids – Ling Xiang and Zhai Ye – as she liked an favoured lifestyle. She, however, didn’t like personally attending to chores and ordering others around to do her bidding was a matter of course to her.
Ming Feizhen and Jin Zhaoying’s relationship didn’t stop at just knowing each other. She believed it was worth her efforts to make him owe her a favour. For as long as she had known him, though, she had never correctly predicted what he’d do, not even once. He didn’t come to learn from her, suddenly vanished without a trace and entrusted a real piece of work to her.
Whenever Su Xiao dropped in, he’d conspicuously knock, enter and ask for tips while wearing a dorky smile, yet his smile was so bright that it made Jin Zhaoying feel uncomfortable in her own room. It was as though the sun barged into the moon’s place. At one point, he dined at her place, slept on the ground, went to wash somewhere in the morning and then would return as if he was returning to his own place. With Zhai Ye and Ling Xiang having their hands full trying to wait on him, they had less time to take care of Jin Zhaoying.
Jin Zhaoying had a higher-than-average aptitude for learning, so she didn’t have much patience when teaching others and often came up with things quick. Much to her chagrin, Su Xiao was able to keep up with her thinking. She was the type to be able to harshly criticise someone for days over a mistake. Problem was, Su Xiao didn’t understand her insults. And, when he asked her what she meant, it’d fan her flames even more. She had lost weight in two weeks just dealing with Su Xiao’s idiocy.
“Sister Jin, I will be back again in a bit. I have to go to a meeting now.” Su Xiao walked out as casually as if he was leaving his house, then poked his head back in after setting foot outside. “I’d like to have roujiamo for dinner, hehe.”
Catching her two maids smiling in amusement, Jin Zhaoying compelled them to adjust their expressions with a glare. As her personal maids, they had no obligation to cook for someone if they didn’t want to. That was the primary source of Jin Zhaoying’s headache.
… Please let this be over soon. I don’t know how much longer I can do this.
Su Xiao had no choice but to select someone from the Quanmu class to form a team with him since he didn’t know many students at the academy. They were supposed to elect the third team member at today’s meeting.
“Wu Dayong? Wu Dayong, are you there?”
Indeed, Su Xiao’s first teammate was none other than Wu Dayong, who had yet to show up at the agreed time.
If you switched the “Wu” character in Wu Dayong’s name into the “wu” for “naught”, his name would read, “Not of much use”. It was almost as if his parents knew he’d look ordinary, perform ordinarily in academics, perform ordinarily in physical challenges and have an ordinary memory, the perfect extra villager character. He was up to date with all manner of rumours and gossip. He knew who was on friendly terms with who and who was whose enemy in the academy, and he was always first to find out new information. Evidently, he wasn’t useful when it came to major things, but he was quite useful for trivial things. That was the reason Su Xiao picked him.
Su Xiao was going to head back to Flower Plucking Palace to resume his training as Wu Dayong didn’t show up when a familiar face that he found disgusting appeared.
“Baihu Su, long-time no see.”
“It’s not good to see you.”
Su Xiao walked past Song Chi, only for the latter to cut him off.
Si Xiao: Well, look at this jerk. I can’t believe he’s stopping me when I haven’t made him pay yet.
“You want to fight?!”
“No. I’m just thinking” – Song Chi shook his head – “you’re not a student of Daren Academy, so… it’s not an issue if you’re expelled, right?”
Roujiamo – Also known as rougamo, is basically a Chinese hamburger back in the day that originated in Shanxi. You can have a variety of fillings, so this is just an example, but the shape is fairly consistent. This is an image reference: https://thewoksoflife.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/rou-jia-mo-6.jpg