Chapter 27: Geniuses and Talentless Hacks
Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
The boy got the hang of it after Li Mu had coached him for ten minutes.
Li Mu wasn’t an expert in chess.
He simply liked watching an anime show about chess in his past life.
He recalled the days he’d spent squatting in front of the television and imagining himself to be an expert player at the game.
He wondered just how dumb he’d been to think that he could actually be good at it.
Come to think of it, he realized just how ridiculous his thoughts had been.
So now he was happy to find a kid who he could teach in order to relive his imagination of being superb at the game.
A piece was placed.
It was only a matter of days before Li Mu began to struggle against playing with the boy.
After a month passed, he started to lose more than he won.
“That’s it. I’m finished playing with you.”
Having lost five consecutive games, he was feeling completely defeated.
He knew that he was not an expert.
Yet his performances were making him feel like he was the dumbest person on the planet.
Shouning Palace got a little livelier after the little prince and the new cleaner eunuch had taken up residence in the palace.
Concubine Jing’s mood got increasingly better as the days went by.
Li Mu then discovered by accident that the concubine was teaching the little prince how to read and write.
The prince then went on to teach An Mu how to read and write.
The books they used to learn the words were the same ones that Li Mu had placed on the bookshelves.
Before long, ten years had passed.
There was noticeably more silver hair on the concubine’s head.
The little prince had grown a lot.
An Mu was nearing his 30s, and he was still a gray-robed eunuch.
Li Mu’s burden had been considerably lifted with An Mu and the Fourth Prince around.
He could disappear for days on end, and Concubine Jing would hardly notice.
During the past ten years, he had reached tier two of the Perfected Person Realm while training in the underground palace.
The further he went with his training, the more difficult it became.
He had no idea how the Perfected Person Realm warriors from the Xuan Sect had made their breakthroughs.
He was only sure that it definitely couldn’t have been easy.
When he returned to Shouning Palace, he discovered that the Fourth Prince was teaching An Mu martial arts in the compound.
The methods he was using to teach martial arts were from a reward that Li Mu had acquired when he was checking in at the compound of a noble clan. The reward had come in book form.
Li Mu never bothered learning methods that came in book form.
The methods in book form were always inferior compared to the ones in jade scrolls. Furthermore, he also needed time to understand them.
He had no time for that back then.
Having been a doctor practicing traditional Chinese medicine back in his past life, he knew enough about biting off more than one could chew.
The books were initially meant for Concubine Jing, just so that she could pass the time.
He’d never expected the concubine to use them to teach children about reading and writing.
It didn’t matter.
They could learn whatever they wanted to learn.
The kid has actually already opened up his Dantian and the 12 meridians?
He took a closer look and discovered that the Fourth Prince had actually gotten to the Acquired Realm.
Just how did he manage to do something like that?
He knew that the prince must have been looking into secret manuals.
The way he saw it, the kid would be doing considerably well even knowing all the words in the manual.
He’d never thought that the prince would actually proceed to learn all the stuff in the manuals in secret.
The prince was even doing his best to conceal his aura, which was something that Li Mu had taught him in the first place.
If it hadn’t been for him having taken a closer look, the kid could have actually fooled him.
Just when did he start his training?
He began recollecting.
He recalled that the prince seemed to have asked him questions about training two years ago.
He hadn’t thought much about it back then.
The kid was only eight years old then.
What would an eight-year-old kid know anyway?
If the kid had been a favorite of the emperor, he would have probably been doing medicinal baths already.
It was unfortunate that this prince had been overlooked by the emperor.
That meant that he had no resources to train with.
Yet, despite having no resources, to begin with, he had still managed to get to the Acquired Realm within just two years.
Li Mu was no longer someone who knew next to nothing about cultivation now.
He knew that no one out there had been able to get to the Acquired Realm from scratch while just training alone with no access to other resources for two years.
“D*mn, here’s a genius right in front of me!”
He had been looking for geniuses all this time, yet not realizing that there was a genius right by his side.
He was beyond elated.
He was feeling rather complicated at the moment.
If he had known that there was a genius right by his side all this time, he wouldn’t have wasted so much time looking outside.
He returned to his room, got a piece of paper, and began writing down the truly powerful moves he knew.
The first to the 22nd strokes of Saint Spirit Sword Techniques…
The Shenfeng Footwork…
Eight Notes of the Celestial Dragon…
After he was finished writing them down, he let the ink dry before slipping them in among the books on the bookshelves.
The kid has a keen sense. He should really try something a little more difficult.
Two weeks later, he discovered that the Fourth Prince was actually training in the Saint Spirit Sword Techniques in secret.
The boy was only using a branch, yet the might of the techniques was still fully demonstrated.
Seems like he must have found the pieces of paper Li Mu had left among the books after all.
Back in the underground palace, Li Mu was sitting on the well.
Slivers of primordial qi were seeping into his body, entering his Dantian along the meridians.
He had finished training in tier four of the Zaohua Sutra at the moment, and his level was solidified at the peak of tier two of the Perfected Person Realm.
There were seven tiers in the Zaohua Sutra.
The fifth tier allowed one to rebuild one’s physical body.
He was steps away from making a breakthrough and training in tier five of the Zaohua Sutra.
That was when he ran into another bottleneck.
Back in the Taihe Hall…
Seven princes were standing before the emperor.
The eldest of them was 14, while the youngest was but nine.
“Today, I’m going to be testing your academic and martial levels,” the emperor spoke to them.
All seven princes began shaking all over, and beads of sweat oozed from their brows.
Pressure and tension washed all over them.
“All of you shall first write a poem. The title shall be ‘The Moon up in the Sky.'”
Soon the stipulated time had passed.
The princes handed over their works to their father.
The emperor flipped through the first page.
His eyes almost popped out of their sockets.
“I am free and my singing voice loud. It sails with the wind and spills into the rivers. I seek beauty at the watery town of Jiangnan, so as to appreciate the moon,” the emperor read.
His lips trembled as he did.
“One bite, two bites, three and four bites. The one to eat the moon is the Heavenly Dog. A bottle of wine when I’m done eating, riding my mule backward as I drink.”
What kind of poem is this?
Even nursery rhymes sound better than this.
The emperor turned around and glowered at his children with a sullen look on his face.
“Your majesty, the princes are still young. They don’t have enough knowledge or experience, so it is only natural that their poems turn out like this.”
An official from the Hanlin Academy noted the sullen look on the emperor’s face and felt he had to say something, lowering his head the whole time.
This was the perfect time to do the princes a favor.
If he were to do it flawlessly, the princes would probably remember him for the rest of their lives.
Regardless of who would take the throne in the future, none of them would forget about him.
The emperor closed his eyes.
He then took a look at the children with childlike faces.
He noted to himself that he might be having too high expectations of any of them.
“Well, I’ll consider this a pass for now. We’ll be doing couplets now. The first line, my good man.”
Some time passed.
The princes stuttered as they gave their answers.
All of them were either lacking in rhyming or lacking in form. Getting spot on with meanings and messages was entirely out of the question.
“You’re all useless!”
The emperor berated them as he slammed the table.
“Your majesty, they’re still…”
“I was on this seat when I was their age, resisting pressure from Clan Dugu and ridicule from the ministers. What about them then? They have whatever they could ask for, and yet they can’t even do some simple couplets and poems right. How could I hand the nation to any of them, if that is all they’re capable of?”
“Your majesty, the tests are not over. Maybe some among the princes will fare well in martial pursuits?”
The emperor let out a long sigh.
Doing so just to suppress his dissatisfaction deep down.
“Head to the arena. I’d teach you all martial arts myself.”
Four hours later…
“D*mn it! Useless pieces of sh*t! How can I hand the country to any of them in the future?”
Anything that the emperor could break at the arena had already been broken.
“No point doing strategies, since all of them are dumb and slow. Being bad at couplets and poems? Fine! Yet they fared even worse at martial arts! So many royal resources lost, and they still fare worse than the members of noble clans out there.”
His rage got even more intense at the thought of the noble clans out there.
“How could the regime bring the clans to heel if my children all fare worse than they are?”
“Your majesty, the princes are still so young after all.”
“Young, you say? The fifth son of Clan Zhao over a dozen years ago became a warrior at the Higher Heaven Realm at the age of 18. Just look at them. None have made it to even the Acquired Realm on this very day.”
The emperor got angrier the more he thought about it.
The pressure from Clan Zhao was intense.
Someone had reached the Higher Heaven Realm at the age of 18.
Over a dozen years have passed since then, and that someone had probably gotten to the Spirit Manipulation Realm.
By the time he stepped down from the throne, none of these children of his would be able to take on those from Clan Zhao.
Worse still, those at the peak of the Spirit Manipulation Realm were still those two eunuchs and no one else.
One of them got increasingly frail by the day.
It looked as if his days were numbered.
The pressure was unreal.
He was carrying the heavy pressure from the future on his shoulders at all times.
He was unable to see any hope.
All seven princes who had been fostered as his heir were almost all talentless hacks.
The emperor probably never realized that the Fourth Prince, whom he thought of the least, was actually the genius who he was seeking.