Chapter 474: Rank 4 Assessment – Part One
A short while later, Gu Mengzhong came downstairs too.
“Brother Lin, you’re up early.” Gu Mengzhong yawned and sat down beside him. The shopkeeper thoughtfully set down breakfast on the table for him.
Lin Jin smiled, musing, ‘I haven’t slept the entire night so of course, I’m early’.
The breakfast served at the inn was good. They had marinated duck, rice porridge, and three side dishes that all tasted fine.
Gu Mengzhong then noticed the book in Lin Jin’s hand.
“Brother Lin, what is that you’re reading?” Gu Mengzhong’s curiosity was piqued by the sight of the word ‘battle’ on the cover.
Gu Mengzhong had been practicing martial arts since a young age. He specialized in swordsmanship, which he had been consistently perfecting over the years. Now that he had his ink monster, he was finally qualified to become a wandering hero. Otherwise, he wouldn’t be able to perform refined sword skills just by relying on his pet beast alone. He would only be embarrassing himself during his travels.
Faced with Gu Mengzhong’s question, Lin Jin didn’t try to hide anything. “It’s a book on martial arts cultivation and it’s quite nicely written. I can lend it to you if you’re interested, Master Gu.”
Having said that, he handed the Battle Saint Mantra to Gu Mengzhong.
To Lin Jin, this Battle Saint Mantra was of little to no significance.
After all, martial arts wasn’t something a person could master easily. It required years or even decades of continuous practice, polishing, and gradual accumulation.
Based on Lin Jin’s current situation, there was no way he could focus on practicing martial arts so he only read the book to increase his knowledge. To actually pick up a new skill was out of the question.
However, Gu Mengzhong was a different story.
Lin Jin was aware that Gu Mengzhong had been practicing martial arts since more than a decade ago. Everyone else assumed Gu Mengzhong was merely a scholar, a calligraphist, and a painter.
What they did not know was how adept he was at swordsmanship. At the very least, he had ten years of experience under his belt.
According to Gu Mengzhong, since ancient times, swordsmanship and art were branches of the same tree. They weren’t separate studies. Hence, the more accomplished he was in the world of art, the better his swordsmanship would get.
In comparison, the Battle Saint Mantra held great value for Gu Mengzhong. Lin Jin knew it was a comprehensive manual that contained the five major studies of martial arts: boxing, palm strike, swordsmanship, ancient divination, and internal organ strengthening. The book contained only pure knowledge so one could imagine how priceless it was to martial artists.
In the entirety of his life, Gu Mengzhong adored only three things. Art, swordsmanship, and that female teacher of his.
He was a knowledgeable man, so Gu Mengzhong was hooked the moment he grabbed hold of the book.
He was so engrossed in its content that he had forgotten about breakfast.
“Good stuff. This is good stuff. The swordsmanship lessons written here are just too profound,” Gu Mengzhong mumbled to himself. While losing himself in the book, he subconsciously drew patterns on the table with his chopsticks using his other hand.
It resembled to be the movements of a blade.
When Lin Jin finished his breakfast, he refrained from disturbing Gu Mengzhong, especially considering how absorbed his friend was.
Lin Jin also instructed the shopkeeper not to disturb Gu Mengzhong because he was aware that once Gu Mengzhong had entered this mysterious trance-like state. To disturb him would interrupt the process of his enlightenment.
He might find it difficult to get back that feeling again.
After leaving his instructions, Lin Jin left the inn with Senior Mo.
Lin Jin arrived at Heavenly Spiral City’s Beast Appraisal Association Headquarters’ before the agreed time. This time, he decided to bring Senior Mo into the association with him.
Lin Jin, of course, had his own reasons for doing so.
At the agreed location, Lin Jin found Jiang Tianhe.
“Appraiser Lin, come with me.” Jiang Tianhe was dressed up formally today because they would be attending a Rank 4 beast appraiser assessment after all.
Such events rarely happened even in Heavenly Spiral City.
Since he was the liaison of the exam, he had to treat it seriously.
Jiang Tianhe led Lin Jin deeper into the compound. Together, they walked through several courtyards until they finally arrived outside a large hall.
“Appraiser Lin, from this moment on, the Rank 4 beast appraiser assessment has begun. I’m not aware of the specifics either so it’s all up to you now, Appraiser Lin,” said Jiang Tianhe in a hushed tone before he saluted Lin Jin and left in a hurry.
As a Rank 3 beast appraiser, it was obvious that Jiang Tianhe had no idea what lied ahead for Lin Jin. However, the fact that he managed to arrange the exam in just one day surprised Lin Jin. This proved that Jiang Tianhe had given his all to handle his request.
Lin Jin returned the salute. No matter what, he owed Appraiser Jiang Tianhe a favor.
And this favor should be returned.
According to Jiang Tianhe’s hint earlier, the Rank 4 beast appraiser assessment was already underway.
However, Lin Jin had no idea what he had to do in order to pass the assessment, let alone the threshold that he was required to pass.
Tagging along behind Lin Jin, Senior Mo studied his surroundings curiously. As he stood before the large hall, he felt an inexplicable sense of wariness and fright.
Suddenly, a voice called from inside the hall, “Appraiser Lin, please enter the hall!”
Someone had summoned Lin Jin inside.
The great hall before Lin Jin was pitch-dark, so Lin Jin was unable to tell who he was speaking to. His only option now was to enter the place and see what happens.
“Old Mo, stick close to me!” Lin Jin instructed before he wandered into the building. Upon entering the place, he noticed the intricate carvings on the floor. He realized that it was the Portrait of Ten Thousand Beasts after taking a good look at it.
The Portrait of Ten Thousand Beasts could be found everywhere, but a more accurate name would have been the ‘Portrait of Hundred Beasts’. This was because there were only a hundred beasts in the picture at most.
The Portrait of Ten Thousand Beasts of each region was different.
Some contained only bird species, fairies, and creatures that were capable of flight; Some were filled with herbivores like deer, goats, cows, and the et cetera; others contained ferocious beasts like tigers, jackals, wolves, serpents, and the like; Of course, there were also paintings filled with creepy creatures like scorpions and poisonous beasts.
What Lin Jin saw was the carnivore variant. Chief among the beasts shown was a lion, a wolf, a tiger, and a leopard. All these creatures were carved with such precision that one could possibly mistake them for being actual live animals.
Just one glance was enough to frighten anyone. It was a primal fear that was induced in human beings due to the presence of wild beasts.
Perhaps it was these beasts who were guarding the place.
Lin Jin was able to ignore the intimidating carvings, and Senior Mo could too. As a dragon, he was born to reign over other wild beasts so mere carvings couldn’t possibly scare him.
However, t the moment Lin Jin stepped on the carvings, the intensity of its deterrence was raised several levels higher. Even Senior Mo began to shudder in fright.
Although he had no fear earlier, this was starting to get a little unnerving.
Still, he could endure it.
As for Lin Jin, while he could sense a slight bit of pressure, it wasn’t enough to incapacitate him.
At the same time, two beast appraisers were enjoying tea and chatting inside the great hall.
The way they acted made it seem as if they were higher-ranking beast appraisers. Sure enough, upon closer observation, Lin Jin noticed the four rings on their sleeves. They were Rank 4 beast appraisers.
“Brother Yan, do you think our examinee would be able to overcome the first trial today?” a Rank 4 beast appraiser asked, before taking a sip of his tea.
The other Rank 4 beast appraiser chuckled in response. “Every year, there would be people trying to use their connections to set up a Rank 4 beast appraiser assessment but only a handful would make it past the first round. However, I heard rumors that today’s participant is fairly capable, so I’m thinking it shouldn’t be a problem for him. Though, I wonder how long it’ll take. Two hours? Maybe four?”