Seeing Du Qiang scribbling something, Feng Lei’s eyes noticeably lit up. He suddenly remembered the storage pouch his father gifted to him the night before. His hand automatically went to his waist where the pouch was and mentally summoned a notebook that he placed in it to appear in his hand with a quill and an ink stick.
Noticing his master’s plan, Du Qiang took the ink stick when it was handed to him and started grinding it in an ink plate on top of a desk beside Feng Lei’s bed. Feng Lei took the quill and dipped it on the ink as gracefully an immortal, appearing incredibly used to the action.
It’s a good thing I studied calligraphy in arts during high school and college. If not, I would be dead by now.
Feng Lei inwardly sighed in relief as he started writing on the notebook in elegant and dignified strokes, unintentionally gaining Du Qiang’s admiration with his writing.
Du Qiang discretely glanced at his own writing and compared it to Feng Lei’s, finding the difference as vast as heaven and earth.
As Feng Lei stopped writing, he passed the notebook to Du Qiang for him to read. As the System may alter his words, Feng Lei chose to write poetry instead to avoid the circumstance and nodded his head to his own genius idea.
‘A king desires for loyal subjects.
A knight desires for honor and glory.
A merchant desires for wealth and riches,
but a man such as I only desires for air to breathe and comrades to share the world with.’
“A great poem, young master!” Du Qiang exclaimed as he was incredibly awed when he realized that Feng Lei answered his previous question with a poem. Upon rereading it again, Du Qiang was filled with praises in his heart and the gaze he used to look at Feng Lei changed and showed hints of respect.
“Gongzi, his royal highness, the emperor summons you to the imperial hall.” Suddenly, the head eunuch’s voice said from the hallway.
Feng Lei opened the door and sent a questioning gaze to the eunuch. “Gongzi, this summon is a tradition of the imperial palace. It is to welcome new disciples to the palace and also to show their talents to imperial family and their senior brothers. This should have been informed to you by your clan before you went here.” The eunuch explained.
This… I was suddenly pulled into this by the emperor yesterday so my father probably forgot about this… System, do you have any information about this tradition?
[None. In the original novel, the protagonist never encountered this.]
Well that’s weird.
Probably sensing Feng Lei’s confusion, the eunuch decided to continue explaining.
“Actually, gongzi doesn’t need to prepare much. You only need to show a bit of your cultivation and your special talents. For example, your eldest apprentice brother, Lin Xueqin-gongzi, chose to demonstrate a sword dance for the imperial family.”
Oh… So that’s how it is. Choosing to study arts is becoming the best decision I’ve ever made during my youth. I think I’ll choose dancing but just that isn’t going to get the imperial family’s attention. System, what do you think?
[How about you try doing contemporary with a bit of traditional and ballet then, add a bit of your ice skills?]
Hmm… That actually sounds like a great idea except I don’t even know how to control my abilities yet.
[Don’t worry. It’s actually fairly easy. I’ll send you a trace of spiritual energy from your dantian and send it to different acupoints in your body. Try to memorize the sequence and send it out of your body as frost. That should be enough for a convincing performance.]
System-bro, you’re the best! I’ll do the best that I can!
[Just finish the mission as soon as you can so I can get my bonus.]
Feng Lei shook his head and faced the silent eunuch who patiently waited for his reply and nodded in acceptance.
“I shall lead the way, gongzi. The imperial hall has already been prepares and numerous officials have been invited for this occasion. If it goes well, you’ll probably be recruited by an official as a student. Of course, your true teacher will still be the emperor but if you manage to gain the attention of a high-ranking official, say, the prime minister for example, then, your future would be extremely bright. You’ll have to try your best, gongzi. Not even one of your senior brothers and sisters have managed to get the prime minister’s attention.” The eunuch said amiably as they walked.
Despite hearing what the eunuch said, not even a ripple of emotion passed through Feng Lei’s face as he was trying to memorize the sequence of acupoints that the system sent him and tried to replicate it. After numerous trials and errors while they walked, he finally succeeded and practiced it repeatedly.
Inside the imperial hall, numerous officials were gathered together and were having a conversation.
“I heard that this disciple that the emperor found is from the Feng clan which is famed for producing numerous geniuses in every generation, moreover, this child is rumoured to be a once in ten thousand years genius even in the Feng clan!” A stout, bearded official said.
“That’s true! I heard he even had a Divine constitution!” A lanky official added.
“If that’s true, then I must have that child as my student! Luo Tingfeng, you must not compete with me!” A tall and heroic looking man who was wearing a general’s uniform declared.
“Hua Shun, aren’t you being too unfair? We’re all here to assess the child’s capabilities and not compete for him. Who knows? He’s probably not even that good.” A scholarly looking man replied, gaining the nods and sounds of approval by many officials around him.
“Hmph! Let’s see if you can still remain calm when we see the child’s performance, you two-faced baldie!” The old general muttered hatefully.
“Feng-gongzi, we’re here.” The eunuch informed as they arrived in front of a large and heavy looking double door which was filled with an awe-inspiring aura.
System-bro, this is really nerve-wracking. I didn’t even prepare a dance for the imperial family! What if I make a mistake and they decide to kill me?! What do I do?!
[Calm down. Just wing it. I know you can do it! You’ve been dancing without even thinking about your movements ever since you were a child! You’ve even studied this for more than six years! Use your emotions to dance like you always have!]
Are you sure I can do it?
[I’m sure of it! Be confident in yourself! Dance your heart put and show those officials what you’ve got! Don’t forget! You’re the once in ten thousand years genius that put even the protagonist in a tough spot!]
Alright! I’ll do it!
While Feng Lei was having a conversation with the system, the eunuch knocked on the door and informed the guard on the other side that Feng Lei has arrived.
As the doors swung open, Feng Lei walked in with a confident and indifferent expression. He knelt down upon arriving in front of the emperor’s throne respectfully and placed a piece of paper in front of him.
‘Your royal highness, this servant hopes you can pardon his impudence as he lost his voice and is unable to speak for the whole day.’
“Hmm? Alright. I’ll pardon you only if you give a satisfying performance. You’ll have to get it checked afterwards to the imperial physician. If you fail to satisfy all of us, you’ll be punished.” The emperor said with a mischievous glint in his eyes.
Hearing his words, Feng Lei was filled with cold sweat but he immediately nodded in acceptance.
This time, I really have to do my best to impress all of them with my performance. If words won’t work, then I’ll just use my actions!
Feng Lei stood up and bowed once again towards the emperor. He took a deep breath and walked towards the center of the hall, the numerous officials’ stares following his every move.
Upon arriving at the center, he closed his eyes and spread his arms elegantly, pausing for a moment… Then, he moved.
At first, it was like a flitting breeze, cautious and fragile, as if he would immediately disappear if disturbed. With every step and twirl, frost seemed to follow his movements, dancing with him as if a secret partner. Slowly, his movement started to change, becoming faster and more free while still retaining its touch of elegance.
He danced with his eyes closed, never opening them once to see where he was going. When he leaped, he was like a mischievous sprite amidst the snow, having an adventure, jumping around snow hills. When he spun around, he was like a malevolent winter spirit, commanding the snow to form a hurricane. When he danced, he was like an icy temptress, attracting the attention of all those around him.
Every step was full of grace and emotion. He made no mistakes and continued dancing as if no one was watching. By now, all the officials watching couldn’t help but stare, afraid to miss anything. They stood watching with slacked jaws as the child who looked as if he was one with the snow danced around the center of the hall, his emotion portrayed in his every movement. Even the emperor was secretly impressed. Who knew that the child who showed absolutely no emotions on his face can actually show a lot of emotions through his movements?
Not noticing the heated gazes of the audience, Feng Lei continued dancing until he was out of breath. His movements, akin to a graceful snow fairy as he flitted across the floor appearing as if his feet didn’t touch the ground. His flexibility and agility alone gained the admiration of many officials.
With one last twirl, Feng Lei ended his performance and bowed. As he opened his eyes, he found himself on the exact same spot where he started, at the center of the hall. Without realizing, he actually danced one full revolution around the empty space of hall, bowing towards the direction of the emperor.
As he panted to catch his breath, with sweat-slicked hair and blushed cheeks, he looked towards the ground as silence filled the hall, making him anxious.
This… They didn’t like it?.. Did I fail?
Suddenly, thunderous applause filled the hall right when Feng Lei was starting to doubt himself.
“Ha! I knew it! This child is a prodigy! Do you dare to doubt him now, Luo Tingfeng?!” Hua Shun suddenly shouted.
“Oh? When did I doubt him? I was actually filled with praises for the child from the start! You shouldn’t be to black-hearted, Hua Shun.” Luo Tingfeng replied with a smile.
“Black-hearted?! I peh! You’re the one who’s black-hearted! Your whole family is black-hearted!” Hua Shun shouted furiously.
[See? I told you, you could do it!]
“Silence!” The emperor who had been silence the whole time commanded, immediately shutting the noisy officials up. He smiled smugly and looked at Feng Lei in appreciation.
“I have decided! Feng Lei shall be assigned to-” “Your majesty!”
Just as the emperor was about to assign Feng Lei to an official, a dignified voice suddenly interrupted him.
“Oh? Prime Minister Wang Zhaohui? What is the meaning of this?” The emperor smiled a smile that was not a smile.
“Your majesty, this humble servant has taken an interest towards this child and hopes to assign him to this one’s teaching.” Upon saying that, an old man who was dressed elegantly and had a dignified aura stood and bowed towards the emperor while the other officials stared with slack-jaws.
“Hmm… An interesting proposal but, unfortunately, your elemental orientation aren’t compatible. And besides, I already had a perfect candidate in mind. I apologize, Prime minister Wang. I’m afraid you’ll have to let go of this opportunity for the child’s sake.” The emperor refused while still smiling.
“Ah… Is that so? Then this servant shall accept. I thank the emperor for his guidance.” The old man sighed in regret and backed off.
“As I was saying, Feng Lei shall be assigned to the guidance of… Grand Marshal Long Jinhai!” The name came out like a strike of lightning to the officials in the Hall while Feng Lei just stood in the middle of it all in confusion as chaos broke out.
“Long Jinhai?! The legendary Grand Marshal who never lost a single battle ever since his appointment?! I heard he secluded himself though! Did he end his seclusion?!”
“That notorious Grand Marshal! He’s a demon in human skin!”
“He’s been gone for three years already! Why did he have to come back at this time?!”
…this… System-bro, is there anyone in the novel who was named as Long Jinhai?
[None that I know of. Such a person never appeared in the novel.]
Then who the heck is this Jinhai guy?!
Suddenly, from the shadows behind the emperor’s throne, a tall, elegant looking man walked out and knelt facing the emperor from the side of the throne. Seeing the man who suddenly appeared, the officials exclaimed in shock and horror.
“He was right in from of us and none of us noticed his presence! What kind of monstrosity is this?!” The prime minister muttered. In front of the Grand Marshal, even the powerful prime minister seemed to only amount to a bug.
“As your highness orders.” The grand marshal said monotonously. He turned towards Feng Lei and assessed him indifferently. “Child, do you accept me as your teacher?” He asked coldly.
Unable to speak, Feng Lei just nodded in acceptance without any emotion on his face.
By the conversations of the officials behind me, I’m guessing this grand marshal is a powerful and authoritative person.
“…I think I understand why the emperor assigned the child to the grand marshal. Talents aside, their attitude and personality is scarily identical.” An official whispered, getting the other officials’ mumbles of agreement.
‘Note #3 : Young master Feng is much more incredible than he seems.’
Du Qiang secretly scribbled as he peeked from the doorway while the guards were distracted.