Translated by: Taffy
Edited by: Frosty
Quiz 59: Heart’s Window
“What?! Little Qiao, you’re not going?” Meng Ming had only found out during class that day that Huang Qiao Yi hadn’t registered for the joint examinations.
“That’s right,” Huang Qiao Yi smiled. “Brother Meng Ming has already been in school for a semester, so you’ve already grown accustomed to it. Brother Meng Ming should go play around by himself in the final exam this time.”
Meng Ming was a bit depressed. If Huang Qiao Yi went, it was possible that she could’ve been a huge help at the exam site. Yet, she’d suddenly declared that she wasn’t going…
“Isn’t that fine?” Zhou Lun Yu popped up randomly and interjected, “It saves you from being wrapped up in this kind of annoying exam.”
“But…” Meng Ming was still somewhat unhappy. Huang Qiao Yi’s grades were very good; without her grades, Lin Xian’s total points would decrease by a lot. Helplessly, he said, “Zhou Lun Yu, judging from what you said just now, you’ve registered.”
Zhou Lun Yu had indeed registered, but Meng Ming didn’t know that Zhou Lun Yu wasn’t worried about grades in this exam. He said, “If you have the time, shouldn’t you be seriously researching the opponent? The greetings of those three were filled with malicious intentions.”
As expected, Kui Yuan’s C-type students were preparing to stir up trouble at the final exam?!
Those Kui Yuan C-types have to be crushed before I can have the energy to focus on Sun Ming Qing. In short, I need to first work together with Zhuge Meng Ming. Although Zhou Lun Yu thought this, he didn’t voice it. “There’s quite a few of them, and it’ll be a bit of a stretch for me to go against them alone. It’ll be good if you can prove to be of some use.”
Although this annoyed Meng Ming, he also understood that Zhou Lun Yu’s habit was just like this…
During these past few days, Meng Ming and Zhou Lun Yu had already gotten a general feel of Guo Dian’s and Lu Xiao’s most practiced skills—two of their opponents for this final. However, Qi Tian Ao was still a mystery.
Lu Xiao was an expert at playing the electric guitar. Not only could he use friction from plucking the strings to create a powerful electric power at the tips of his fingers, he could also let the electricity flow through his skin. Depending on the strength of the current, he could sense different things going on around him.
“Playing with an electric mosquito swatter?” Zhou Lun Yu queried. “The most dangerous one should be the one that finds pleasure in harming others at the exam site, Guo Dian.”
In the past, his grades had been the second best in the entire district, which made him very intimidating.
Guo Dian was an expert at Chinese and Western art. Since he’d first learned how to draw, he’d always had an excellent grasp of the lighting of art and how well the colors blended together. Zhou Lun Yu said, “The flow and amounts of paint and ink mix together, their thickness and stickiness work in harmony…he can completely control even the slightest drop, able to obtain the exact desired color and amounts. When he uses his pen, he uses the power in his fingers to control the content on the paper, making the product exactly perfect.”
“Drawing pens, paints, ink, and whatever can’t be brought into the exam site, right?” Meng Ming asked.
Zhou Lun Yu answered, “Both Chinese and Western art are not limited to just using paints. There’s one more thing that must be added. He has completely mastered the rhythm of the liquid drops and their flow when he draws—he can easily scribble all over another person’s test papers.”
Meng Ming pondered this for a bit. There were only so many things that were allowed into the exam site. “So, you mean to say…”
“Hmph, it’s drinking water.”
During the last class today, Teacher Wang announced the arrangements for the final exams.
“Ohohoho!! From the looks of it, there aren’t that many in our class that are willing to participate in the joint examinations!” She happily asked, “Do all of you want to stay here and participate in the unified examinations?!”
Class A’s Huang Qiao Yi and Bai Jiu were both people that wanted to stay.
Teacher Wang said “The 35 names of those participating in the joint examination are already set.” Obviously, these included Zhuge Meng Ming, Zhou Lun Yu, and Jin Nai Nai. After all, the administration head had personally gone to invite those three.
Chen Fei already arranged everything, he’s so fast… Meng Ming put away the novel he’d been reading during class in preparation to listen to the joint exam’s arrangements. A sickening voice suddenly pierced through the entire classroom—
“There is still a hint of warmth in this chilly final. Being able to attend the unified examination with two beauties is really extreme fortune.” Shi Yun recited out from the back row, “Respected and beloved Teacher Wang, if you are the sun, I wholeheartedly hope that you can come illuminate our exam site.”
Oi, are you still half-asleep?!
Asking her to proctor the final, have you lost your mind?!
If I’d realized earlier that I’d be taking the exam with you, I might as well have chosen to attend the joint exams…
“Ohohoho!! Then, as the sun, I’ll first talk about the joint exams’ arrangements.” Teacher Wang had said this quite amiably. “The date already been decided as next Monday. The location has been set as well, so none of you need to worry about having the exam pushed forward at the last minute. The exam site has been arranged at Old Xian Town in the western part of Lin Xian!”
Once she brought up Old Xian Town, everyone in the class understood where the joint exam was located.
“Little Qiao, where’s that?” Meng Ming secretly asked.
“Mm, it’s a bit far from Lin Xian. No wonder you need to live there,” Huang Qiao Yi said. “It’s an old town that’s located further south than Kui Yuan. Although it’s called ‘old town,’ it’s actually more like a city, with a lot of skyscrapers. There aren’t that many old buildings left anymore. Aside from some scattered, run-down houses, the main points are the examination sites at Old Xian’s Twin Towers and on the opposite shore. These are both still perfectly intact.”
“Examination sites?” Meng Ming found this strange. “What examination sites?”
Huang Qiao Yi said, “Those places were cities in the past. The exam sites were established a century ago to hold the imperial examinations.”
The imperial examinations were tests used to select the best people once every three years during ancient times. From the Sui and Tang dynasties up until the Ming and Qing dynasties, any scholars that wanted to stand out could only do so through this imperial exam. Countless people would spend a decade strenuously studying just for a place near the middle. Hundreds of thousands worked hard to become rich and powerful by setting their sights on getting top marks in these exams. Since this examination system was established over a thousand years ago, the many aspects, from bitter hardships, a multitude of all emotions, countless stories, and numerous anecdotes, moved people, and were the source of their lamentations.
These were exams that chose one person from among thousands. The person that passed would be bestowed an official title and enter the ranks of the nobility, while those that did not pass could only bitterly wait for the next exam. Under the harsh system, people gradually began to try to make the list and gain the profits through any means, fair or foul.
Cheating had arisen from the imperial examinations.
The imperial exams, which had been abolished ages ago, had been the beginning stage of the current college entrance examinations! Quite a few things had been passed down.
Huang Qiao Yi also actively explained the content and restrictions of the imperial exams to Meng Ming.
“That’s why I’m sure that Brother Meng Ming now understands why the first exam is Chinese every time.”
“To think that the college entrance exam was a thousand year old tradition…and they didn’t let females take it. Isn’t that too harsh?” Meng Ming said.
That’s not all… Zhou Lun Yu was sitting in his own seat, thinking about Sun Ming Qing’s matter the whole time. Cheating is also a thousand year old tradition. Hmph, using this kind of site for the final exams really suits that person.
Everything that needed to be said about the final exams had pretty much been said already. Teacher Wang finally explained, “The school will take care of the living accommodations. All of the joint examinees, please remember to prepare the things you want to bring with you. Meet at the school gates next Monday at 8:30 am. The school will drive the 35 examinees to the west of Lin Xian.”
The students registered for the joint exams were very fortunate to be able to feel the ambience of the ancient examination site for their final exams. It was known that 70 examinees would gather in that same exam site; it was unknown exactly which three subjects would be be part of the exams, or what kind of proctoring arrangements there would be. However, Zhuge Meng Ming didn’t feel any concern, nor any insignificance. —Originally, the administration head had forced him to attend, but now he had his own reason to partake.
To him, these final exams were also a very important test—he’d promised Chen Fei that he would properly protect Jin Nai Nai.
Everything was prepared and ready. The time also flew by very quickly. This day was the first day of the final exam.
Alright, I have to gather my energy and power through the next three days. I definitely cannot lose! Meng Ming was on the bus in the early morning encouraging himself.
Pretty much all of the Lin Xian examinees were already sitting on the bus. Although they still didn’t know which subjects were being tested, their concentrations were locked onto books. This was the last exam of the semester, the test that determined their final grades. There was also some discussion—
“Who knows what kind of site it is? Will any problems occur…moreover, I heard those Kui Yuan students all have pretty good grades…”
“Don’t be afraid of that. I’m not concerned with the overall grades at all. In terms of comprehensive scores, I don’t believe that we’re lower than Kui Yuan. We have the first-rate Zhuge Meng Ming, as well as that C-type called Zhou Lun Yu. Also, I heard that the person ranked first on the midterm exams, Jin Nai Nai, is also coming.”
“Yeah, that’s right. We definitely don’t need to worry about total grades, we’ll win! That’s why we should just look after ourselves. This is the final. Let’s stop talking about it, I’m going to go study.”
The outstanding students on the bus were all actively preparing for war. However, Meng Ming was still very depressed. His guard wasn’t up at all…
The female teacher surnamed Jiang counted, and discovered that there was still one student missing. This teacher was the leader of the group, and obviously the one responsible for proctoring the exam as well.
There were still a few more minutes until 8:30 am, and they were getting anxious as they waited. Teacher Jiang wanted to leave early to calm everyone down, so she said to all of the students, “Everyone, please try to earnestly conduct the tests as the school has arranged; don’t worry about the issue of writing problems and the proctors. The test papers, problems, test writers, and the proctors have all gone through strict evaluations. There won’t be any flaws in the problem sheets or the exam papers.”
Hmph, of course I know that. The seated Zhou Lun Yu believed that anyone cheating on the problem sheets and exam papers would really be at too low of a level. That kind of trick could be seen through with a single glance. The exam site. Any cheating must appear at the exam site… he thought.
“Zhou Lun Yu, why are you spacing out?” Meng Ming suddenly asked him.
Zhou Lun Yu regained his senses before replying, “Did you think I was afraid of Kui Yuan’s group of C-types?” After mentioning this, Zhou Lun Yu suddenly also thought: I almost forgot, I still have to go up against those troublesome Kui Yuan fellows…there’s too much to do. They have a total of three people on their side…
Meng Ming had realized a while ago that Zhou Lun Yu seemed somewhat off. The start of the exams was within sight, if he didn’t say what he wanted to now…
“Hey, actually, you,” Zhou Lun Yu asked him, “Didn’t you say there was still one more student, the one that hasn’t yet boarded the bus?”
“Ah, that’s right,” Meng Ming replied with a nod. There was still one minute left before the bus would leave. Although they could wait for a while, if the person didn’t arrive on time, others would always think of them as unreliable.
“What kind of person is this?” Zhou Lun Yu asked. “It’s fine if they’re a bit weaker, as long as they can prove to be even the slightest bit useful.”
“Eh…” Meng Ming didn’t know how to reply. In short, this student was one that was completely different from Zhou Lun Yu’s thoughts… I don’t know if she would be useful, and she even needs our protection. Meng Ming didn’t voice this out loud, and instead said, “Basically, this student I’m talking about is definitely not normal.”
“This person’s really so amazing?” Zhou Lun Yu was wondering if Meng Ming was just intentionally exaggerating, but he suddenly saw a girl racing over from the school gates. She wore large glasses, and was carrying many things. There was also a piece of bread currently in her mouth.
“Ah, she’s come.” Meng Ming immediately said, “I just knew she’d definitely come.”
Jin Nai Nai boarded the bus with her bags of various sizes, and was warmly welcomed by all of the students!
“We’ll be relying on you, Number One!”
“I’ll probably still be unable to compare with you this time…!”
“Ohhh, but I think that Zhuge Meng Ming might be first place…’
After the spectacular welcome, Meng Ming gestured at her to come to the last row, and helped her arrange her luggage before asking, “So long? The bus almost couldn’t wait any longer…also, why do you have so many things?”
Jin Nai Nai slowly swallowed her breakfast and replied, “No, no choice. It’s hard to prepare enough things for living away from home for eight days.”
Meng Ming only just remembered that Jin Nai Nai had tricked her mother into believing that she was attending the unified examinations. If she lived away from home, obviously that meant it’d be for eight days.
The two exchanged words, their conversation very natural. However, since first seeing this girl, Zhou Lun Yu had become completely mute.
“Oi, you sure you’re not mistaken?” Zhou Lun Yu narrowed his eyes, and said to Meng Ming in a grave tone, “This is the student you were talking about?”
As the bus started, Meng Ming nodded.
“Why is it a girl?!”
“Why not? It’s not the imperial examinations…”
“The most important part isn’t her gender. She, she…” Zhou Lun Yu looked at Jin Nai Nai’s pair of large, adorable eyes that made her appear like she’d just be an inconvenience, and was somewhat unable to continue. “Why does she look like an L-type?! You want to wrap an innocent person into all of this?”
“Eh, how do I say this…” Meng Ming was still debating about whether to tell Zhou Lun Yu everything, but Zhou Lun Yu instead pushed him to the side. “Can’t you be more serious? This is this final, the final examination. Moreover, we’re going against the abnormal Guo Dian. Guo Dian…”
Jin Nai Nai didn’t pay any attention to their conversation, but was instead constantly inspecting Zhou Lun Yu. She suddenly stepped forward and said, “Ah, you’re Zhou Lun Yu. I’ve heard student Meng Ming talk about you,” after which she suddenly stretched out her hand towards Zhou Lun Yu for a handshake.
Zhou Lun Yu was caught off guard by the suddenly outstretched hand. He didn’t reach out to shake it, but instead sincerely told her, “Alright, the exam site isn’t some place to just play around. You’re the one that insisted that Zhuge Meng Ming bring you along, right? I’m very sorry to say this, but we cannot act together with an L-type.”
Jin Nai Nai continued looking at him with her large eyes, as if wanting to explain something, “But…”
But what? [Zhou Lun Yu]
Just say you’re really amazing. [Meng Ming]
“But…my grades are very good.”
“How are good grades of any use?!”
“Why didn’t you tell me earlier that you wanted to bring such a person…?” Zhou Lun Yu vexedly asked Meng Ming.
Meng Ming explained, “There was no other way, she had to stay home to study most of the time, and wasn’t able to come out.”
“You should know that this exam is very dangerous, and is already extremely chaotic,” Zhou Lun Yu said, “Yet you still got an L-type to come out and inconvenience us…”
“It is very dangerous,” Meng Ming still hadn’t thought through an explanation, “But Jin Nai Nai, she, she’s really very strong.” He personally believed that Jin Nai Nai’s strength definitely surpassed Zhou Lun Yu’s imagination. However…how could he say it so that Zhou Lun Yu would understand…
“How exactly is she strong?” Zhou Lun Yu turned his head around to stare at Jin Nai Nai’s seemingly blank and vacant face again. She was still reflecting on—oh, how X-seven’s ham breads were the most delicious.
There was still a lot of time until they reached their destination. Meng Ming suddenly thought of a good idea.
“Zhou Lun Yu,” Meng Ming fished out a deck of playing cards, “Let’s play Old Maid. Jin Nai Nai, join us too.” As he said this, he turned around and asked her, “Do you know how to play?”
“I do!” Jin Nai Nai immediately raised her hand and responded.
Old Maid—The Small Joker was put aside, leaving only the Big Joker. These remaining 53 cards were then distributed amongst everyone. They’d all draw each other’s cards, and discard any pairs. The one that got the Big Joker in the end was the loser.
Zhou Lun Yu asked, in a bad mood, “What exactly are you doing…if you have any energy to spare, you should think about how to go against Guo Dian.”
“Just trust me. I’ll think about it after we finish playing,” Meng Ming said. “Although we still don’t know what the exam site is like, we’ll naturally be able to come up with tactics against Guo Dian after playing this game.”
Zhou Lun Yu grew angrier as he saw how Meng Ming wasn’t nervous at all. He thought to himself that he might have been overthinking things, and so he sat down and said, “Alright, let’s play, then. However…” He pointed at Meng Ming. “Don’t even think about using sleight of hand, we’ll see through it.”
“I know.” Meng Ming slowly shuffled the cards as he stated, “You two play rock-paper-scissors first to decide the dealing order—that kind of result wouldn’t be my subjective decision, so it’s fair, right?”
Rock-paper-scissors?! Zhou Lun Yu suddenly thought: That’s right, rock-paper-scissors is the ultimate test of one’s thinking and reaction speed. If it’s just as Zhuge Meng Ming said, then this girl’s rock-paper-scissors skill is definitely outstanding. “Alright.” He agreed, and said to Jin Nai Nai, “Let’s play. Do you know the rules?”
Jin Nai Nai thought for a bit before answering, “There might be someone that doesn’t, so go ahead and say them…”
Zhou Lun Yu said, “The rules in rock-paper-scissors are that you can choose rock, paper, or scissors,” he stated, while showing all of the different hand gestures. “Rock beats scissors, scissors beats paper, and paper beats rock. That’s it.”
“That’s it?” Jin Nai Nai looked at him, as she stated, “I’ve got it.”
“Then, let’s go!” Zhou Lun Yu raised his hand, and the two simultaneously began to shout—
The instant they shouted “scissors”, Zhou Lun Yu used scissors.
Jin Nai Nai had kept her hand in place, and hadn’t moved at all, and Zhou Lun Yu’s scissors moved through the empty air. Jin Nai Nai stared at the outstretched scissors, and, after a few seconds of thinking, finally waved her fist—choosing rock. Swoosh!
“I won,” Jin Nai Nai said.
“What?! Even if you are slow, that’s way too slow!”
“But, you didn’t say that I couldn’t go slowly in the rules just now…”
“…” Zhou Lun Yu was speechless. When he thought back to the rules he’d listed earlier, he realized that he indeed hadn’t said going slowly wasn’t allowed. How is this girl even more surprising than Zhuge Meng Ming…?! “Alright, alright, deal the cards!” Zhou Lun Yu reproached.
Afterwards, dozens of rounds smoothly passed…
“…………………………….” Zhou Lun Yu was holding the Big Joker at the end again. He looked at all of the pairs below him, and felt extremely disgruntled.
“That should be enough, right? If you continue playing, you’re the one that’ll keep losing, Zhou Lun Yu…”
“Zhuge Meng Ming, you used sleight of hand, didn’t you.” [Zhou Lun Yu]
“Even if I did, weren’t you the one that drew the Big Joker yourself?” [Meng Ming]
“That’s right, that’s right, you never started with the Big Joker in any of the rounds.” [Jin Nai Nai]
“But…” No matter how much Zhou Lun Yu thought about it, he still felt that something was fishy. “How come once the Big Joker appears in my hand, it’s never drawn away? Forget Zhuge Meng Ming, how come this girl can’t draw it away either?!” He pointed at Jin Nai Nai.
It was completely silent.
Now, you should’ve come to understand Jin Nai Nai’s strength, right? Meng Ming thought to himself: Jin Nai Nai has never lost to her younger brother in cards before.
“My luck definitely can’t be this bad,” Zhou Lun Yu said. “Let’s play again!”
“It’s your technique that isn’t good enough…” Meng Ming mocked.
“There are techniques involved in this?” Zhou Lun Yu refused to believe this.
Jin Nai Nai said, “When you play Old Maid, you cannot reveal any sort of expression. That’s common sense.”
“Of course I know that!” Zhou Lun Yu could swear that he’d played with a poker face just now.
Jin Nai Nai continued to look at him with her large eyes, and she said, extremely earnestly, to Zhou Lun Yu, “Just now, your face indeed showed no expression. However, your eyes were looking at the cards in your hand the whole time.”
“So what…” Zhou Lun Yu was just about to say something, but a sudden thought appeared in his mind, crushing his words. Eyes?! …Eyes also have expressions?
Eyes were the window to the heart.
The bus…also had windows.
Zhou Lun Yu was completely shocked.
This girl, actually…!
They were getting closer and closer to Old Xian Town. The final examination would soon begin.
“We’ve played enough.” Meng Ming tidied up the cards and said, “Now, we should be able to draw up a tentative battle plan.”