Chapter 7: Reencounter
After beating the first room, the illusion realm disappeared. Su Chen discovered that he was in a room covered in Origin Formations. There was a door on the opposite side of the room; upon pushing it open, Su Chen discovered he had returned to the large hall outside.
The skinny student’s eyes lit up when he saw Su Chen. “Oh, you passed the first level already? Not bad.”
“I just got lucky is all,” Su Chen indifferently replied. As he spoke, he pulled out his identity tablet from the door. He discovered he was awarded 25 contribution points for beating the first room.
“How about it, want to give the second room a try? If you can clear it, you’ll get fifty contribution points,” the student egged Su Chen on. It seemed he harbored no good intentions.
“Okay!” Su Chen easily agreed.
Upon seeing Su Chen enter the second door, the skinny student paused before letting out a scornful laugh. “I trapped another one.”
He worked here for a long time already, so he knew all the ins and outs.
The first room was the easiest to clear. It was essentially used to ease the students in while also giving them some contribution points. If the students were smart, they would be able to approximate the strength of the second room and assess whether or not they could clear it.
New students were often able to clear the first room with ease. With 25 contributions points in the bag, they would be given a challenge in the floor after. One that required strength.
The skinny student was quite perceptive. He immediately realized Su Chen did not have the aura of someone with a bloodline, so he ought to be a normal student. For him to attempt the second room after not even being in the school for a few months, there was only one possible outcome: failure.
This was exactly the result the skinny student was looking for.
He was always here, watching over the students. His favorite thing to see was students walk in full of self-confidence and leave dejectedly. He found pleasure in the failures of others.
This feeling of taking delight in the failures of others was extremely satisfying to him. In fact, this kind of perverse delight was quite common among those who had failed before.
However, the smile on his face quickly disappeared when the green light above the second door lit up. He stood there in a daze. Succes? He actually cleared it?
When Su Chen walked out, 50 contribution points were added to the identity tablet in his hand.
“Not bad, kid!” The skinny student quickly retracted his shock. He pretended to honestly congratulate Su Chen, “You up to do the third room? Out of all the first-year students, very few can clear the third room at this stage.”
“Mhm.” Su Chen thought seriously about it for a moment, then nodded his head. “I’ll give it a try.”
Holy shit, are you serious?
The skinny student laughed coldly in his heart. This guy truly doesn’t know when to stop.
Each two doors were equivalent to a year in the institute. At least, that was the design laid out by the Hidden Dragon Institute.
In other words, being able to clear two doors as a first-year student was already up to par. The third door was designed for second-year students. Only the top first-year students could clear it.
The contribution points awarded were determined based on this system. If he cleared it ahead of schedule, he would obtain more points, and if he failed to clear it within the set amount of time, he would obtain less.
Only the most outstanding seedlings would be able to clear rooms ahead of schedule. Evidently, the non-bloodline student standing in front of him did not reach that standard.
The third door, huh…… I’ll be waiting to watch you bite the dust.
The skinny student laughed coldly in his heart.
Not long afterwards.
The copper door opened, a green light above it. The skinny student was so surprised his jaw almost fell off.
What the hell, he even cleared the third room!
If word were to spread that a first-year student without a bloodline had cleared the third door only a few months after the start of the year, most people would be so shocked that their teeth would fall out!
Evidently, Su Chen was not as relaxed as he had been previously.
Fatigue could be seen on his face, and his forehead was covered in sweat.
However, he was extremely happy. The third room granted him 100 contribution points after all!
How many points would he get if he cleared the fourth room right now?
However, he had pretty much used up all of his moves to clear the last room. He was even forced to use Whitetower Teleportation and Origin Energy Bullets. He didn’t feel confident in clearing the fourth room, so he gave up on that idea.
Even so, Su Chen still asked the skinny student, “Out of the first-year students, how many cleared the third room?”
Perhaps because Su Chen had charged through three rooms in a row, the skinny student’s tone became much more respectful. He glanced through the record book, then replied, “Up until now, there are a total of 84 people including you.”
This didn’t even include those who hadn’t yet come to try and clear the rooms, yet possessed the strength to do so.
Indeed, there were many capable individuals at the institute, even among the first-year students.
“Are there any who cleared the fourth room?” Su Chen asked.
The skinny student flipped through the records again before replying, “Five.”
Five people cleared the fourth room?
“May I ask who they are?” Su Chen inquired.
The skinny student answered, “Two chose to keep their identities a secret, while three did not. They are Jiang Xishui, Yue Longsha, and Ji Hanyan.”
So Ji Hanyan was among them.
This was not surprising given the level of strength she possessed.
The fourth room was probably not her limit either. After all, Ji Hanyan could go toe-to-toe with Pan Hao, so in theory she should at least be able to clear the fifth room. The only reason she hadn’t yet was probably because she was being cautious.
He didn’t know who Jiang Xishui or Yue Longsha were.
The skinny student said with a smile, “Since you cleared the third room, you have already obtained the right to leave your name on the registry. Do you want to……”
“There’s no need,” Su Chen cut him short as he shook his head.
He didn’t have much interest in obtaining a certain ranking. After hearing who had cleared it, Su Chen confirmed that his current strength was around the level of Treebow Zhang Sheng’an or Blood Demon Zhong Ding. During the Three Mountains Region exam, he only obtained fifth place by exploiting various opportunities coming his way. Now, he could finally say that he was deserving of such a ranking.
He still had a long road ahead of him if he wished to catch up to a genius like Ji Hanyan.
But that didn’t matter to him. After all, targets were meant to be chased after.
He turned around to glance at the fourth door, sizing it up briefly before turning around and leaving.
“Please, come again!” The skinny exam student’s tone was filled with respect. No trace of his earlier laziness could be found.
He only came here to test out his new Origin Skill, but he walked away with 170 contributions that had seemingly fallen in his hands. He was rather happy with it.
Su Chen was at the Hidden Dragon Institute for several months now. Although he lived in seclusion, he knew contribution points were vital in the Hidden Dragon Institute. Many services provided by the institute required these points. From hearsay, this was to even out some of the differences amongst the students. After all, simply using money to buy everything would give rich students an inherent advantage, which was bad for their development.
By using contribution points, they could ensure a fair starting point.
Of course, true equality did not exist. The Bloodline Nobility Clans possessed an innate advantage, and non-bloodline individuals had generally no hope of competing. However, there was nothing that could be done about this inequality.
After obtaining 170 contribution points in addition to the amount he already possessed, Su Chen decided to pay the library a visit.
Perhaps because he was deeply affected by the Arcana Race, Su Chen’s pursuit of knowledge was far more diligent than most people.
This also had to do with the differences between the two races.
The Arcana Race’s strength came about from their intelligence. Every great Arcana master was simultaneously a scholar, delving into the mysteries of the world.
Humankind was different. While they also placed importance on knowledge, they limited themselves to the knowledge related to cultivation. Every piece of information had to do with cultivation, and it had to be relevant with their own path of cultivation. Otherwise, the information was pointless.
The differences in approach came about due to the large gap in physical potential. The Arcana Race was at a disadvantage when it came to cultivating, but they possessed sharp mental acuity, and were able to understand the changes in Origin Energy conductance. Their method was to create Origin Energy Patterns. Other races could study and use Ancient Arcana Techniques because those techniques only affected how Origin Energy was conducted through the body. It was completely separate from their origin.
For humans, Origin Energy Talismans were formed within their bodies and affected their physique. They activated Origin Skills from within their own body, so they could only be used by humans, not any other races.
The discrepancies between the races shaped the differences in cultivation methods.
Su Chen, however, was an oddity. He had a vision of a completely new path, one where he would unify the past with present, combining Ancient Arcana Techniques and contemporary Origin Skills.
There were already some who had chosen to take this path. The result was Improved Arcana Techniques.
The Soul Eye was a perfect example.
However, there was not much success to be found on that path. Because of the complexities, its applicability in battle was small.
But with the Brooke Formula and his eye, which could see Origin Energy, Su Chen had a real possibility of improving and strengthening these kinds of Origin Skills.
Right now, his main problem was his lack of knowledge.
Without question, the library was a great place to resolve this issue.
After arriving at the library, he discovered that, just like the Hundred Refinements Pavilion, students were also responsible for providing assistance here. Students would be paid with contribution points for their labor; although the pay wasn’t much, they could at least guarantee their own safety.
The person assisting him was a round-faced girl. She knew Su Chen was a newcomer, so she explained about the library. “None of the books in the library can be checked out. You may only read them while in the library, and every hour you spend here will cost you ten contribution points. If you have any special privileges, you can receive a discount depending on your tier of preferential treatment.”
Su Chen was a second-level Institute seedling, and he possessed Tier 9 preferential treatment from the very beginning. Every hour, he would only need to pay nine contribution points.
“How do I raise the tier of my preferential treatment?” Su Chen asked.
“You can raise it by completing tasks handed out by the Institute, or you can buy them with contribution points. It costs 100 contribution points to buy your way into Tier 9 preferential treatment.” The round-faced girl didn’t know that Su Chen already was at Tier 9 preferential treatment, so she explained this detail to him.
“What about going from Tier 9 to Tier 8?”
“It’ll cost you 150 contribution points,” the round-faced girl replied. “But preferential treatments apply to the entire Institute, not just the library. It’ll be useful in other places as well.”
Su Chen thought for a moment, then pulled out his identity tablet and said, “Can you raise me to Tier 8?”
Even if it were just for the library, spending 150 contribution points to raise his tier was worth it.
Upon seeing Su Chen pull out 150 contribution points to raise his tier, the round-faced woman was surprised.
150 contribution points was not a small sum. More importantly, he was only using them to save one contribution point per hour. This implied that to earn his money’s worth, he would at least have to spend 150 hours in the library and 1200 contribution points.
If he didn’t have the money, it could only be that he had absolute confidence he could achieve such a number.
Upon thinking to here, the round-faced woman’s gaze was filled with stars.
Students did not earn many contribution points for public service tasks. In fact, those who did were usually the lowest members of society, with no significant background to speak of and insufficient strength. They could only obtain cultivation resources via the simplest means at their disposal. To them, obtaining the favour of an important individual was like a dream; something that rarely, if ever, came to be.
This was why the skinny student flattered him when he cleared the third room and why the round-faced woman was shooting him flirtatious glances right now.
Unfortunately for her, Su Chen paid no attention to her.
He completely overlooked the young woman’s flirtatious expression. After raising his tier, Su Chen entered the library.
As soon as he entered the library, a familiar figure appeared before his eyes.
As if he had been struck by lightning, Su Chen instantly stopped in place, rooted to the ground.