Chapter 144 - Immortal Cultivators
While over a hundred "hidden dragon" had been deeply shocked by Li Yao's spectacular performance, Li Yao, on the other hand, had cold sweat trickling down his forehead and his heart was in a turmoil.
He was in the midst of taking the final exam in the Wasteland Battle Network.
The reason the cold sweat had appeared was definitely not because the exam was highly difficult. On the contrary, it was too simple!
The course he was taking the exam for was called .
It sounded rife with cliches; it was a course that appeared large but impractical. It quite seemed that as long as one shouted a few remarks like "I'm a righteous cultivator and my sword is always ready to be drawn to help when I see injustice during my travels", "The blood of the strong must flow for the weak", or "The depraved and the degenerates need to be punished", anyone could pass.
Furthermore, it was written as such in the textbooks as well.
And even after taking half of the exam, the content was also almost the same. It seemed that it was just sending you free credits.
However, the passing rate of this course was as low as 32%!
"It shouldn’t be like this. If one just has to speak some remarks that are full of heroism, then everyone should be able to pass. No one would not say 'If I saw some injustice during my travels, my sword is ready to be drawn to help the weak', right? Why is the passing rate only 32%?"
On one side, Li Yao was answering, while on the other, he was quickly thinking.
Fortunately, there was a lot of time left, thus he could slowly ponder and answer.
The one who was presiding over the exam was a middle-aged, awe-inspiring, righteous cultivator who had straight eyebrows which were slanting upwards and outwards and eyes which were bright and shining like stars. He was the very construct which had been generated from numerous telepathic thoughts and appeared to be the epitome of a standard chivalrous heroic figure. He especially appeared warmhearted and considerate, like the ones who would behead three to five villainous degenerates before going to bed every night.
He seemed to be extremely satisfied with Li Yao's previous answer. He nodded and concluded, "Good, good, your answers are very good. So the righteous people must eradicate the bullies and assist the weak, and safeguard justice because we are chivalrous. We have righteous ardor, right?"
Li Yao was just about to nod before his heart suddenly started pounding. He unwittingly replied, "This is only one reason!"
The "chivalrous hero" was exceptionally surprised: "What's the other?"
"The reason we must eliminate the bullies and help the downtrodden, protect justice, and even pay for it with our lives... it all because—upholding justice is beneficial to us!"
Li Yao sorted out his thoughts as he quickly answered.
"What are the benefits?" the chivalrous hero's eyes shone with a bright gleam as he asked back.
"What is justice? In my opinion, justice is social order, it is civilized law! We cultivators are vested beneficiaries in the existing social order. We enjoy the greatest benefits which this order brings us, so of course, we have to safeguard it!"
"Vested beneficiaries? Please explain!"
The smile on the chivalrous hero's face vanished as an expressionless look appeared on his face. It seemed that he was a bit dissatisfied by Li Yao because he was talking about interest instead of talking about right or wrong.
As the words had already left Li Yao's mouth, it was just like an arrow which had been fitted on a bow-string and had to be released. He could only bite the bullet and speak:
"In the current social order of the Star Glory Federation, we, the cultivators, are the elites among all trades and professions. Whether it is reputation, status, or income, it is higher than ordinary citizens. Not to mention that ordinary citizens respect us from the bottom of their heart, and they too desire to become cultivators. Through the ages, this is the most suitable set of social order for cultivators. No matter who wants to break this social order, we can not allow him to succeed. Furthermore, he must be treated as a degenerate and a devil cultivator who has to be beheaded—this is justice!"
"In the ancient cultivation world of forty millenniums ago, we similarly had the same lofty status and we were respected. But still, not many ancient cultivators had a strong sense of justice, nor did they make sacrifices for the weak!" The chivalrous hero coldly smiled.
"Wrong. Ordinary people in the ancient cultivation world simply feared us. They didn't have the slightest bit of respect, not to mention the cultivators from the ancient cultivation world didn't live as comfortably as we modern cultivators do!"
Li Yao mustered up his courage and loudly said, "Take me for example. I am only a low-level Refinement Stage cultivator who had just entered the cultivation world. If I was in the ancient era, I would be treated like a slave who was at the beck and call of some high-level cultivator. And once I rose to prominence or found some heaven and earth treasure, I must put up my guard against others who would be coming to kill me or seize the treasure. Furthermore, I would have to scheme against my peers. It was a time when each and every one thought of stepping on someone else's head to climb, and it was a time when everyone was willing to stab you in the back as many times as they could. Every day, you would be in a state of anxiety, during which you would not have any appetite, be unable to sleep soundly, and can’t even leisurely take a dump. How could anyone cultivate the truth?"
"The modern era, on the other hand, is different. Civilization has progressed now. An insignificant Refinement Stage cultivator like myself can freely and happily research the profound mysteries of truth and find my great dao in the highest institute of the country. Even if I found some profound and peerless technique or some heaven and earth treasure, no one would dare to blatantly kill me to seize the treasure. Whoever dared to try would become the enemy of the entire federation!"
"In this kind of environment, I can boldly cultivate at ease, due to which the efficiency is as much as a hundredfold higher compared to the ancient era! For sure, it would be a lot better if I become a high-level cultivator in the end, and even if not, even if I remain in the Refinement Stage for my entire life, it would still alright. After I am out in society, like before, I can still find a decent job and live a happy and satisfactory life."
"Now, tell me. Isn't a social order which can allow me to live freely and happily worthy for me to defend?"
The chivalrous hero maintained his composure: "You are right. However, we can still divide society into two parts. Among the cultivator, we can talk about morality, laws, and justice, whereas for the ant-like ordinary people, we can squeeze them dry like slaves, force them to collect resources, gather wealth, and use them as much as we can to our satisfaction. This kind of social order can similarly allow us to live comfortably and we wouldn’t need to bear the slightest bit of responsibility, wouldn’t this be much better?"
"Nope, it is not good at all. Not to mention, slavery and the feudal system is inefficient. It is not suitable for the advanced cultivation civilization. And most of all, we also have one huge competitor—the devil cultivators! If ordinary people are really desperate, they really don't need to rely on cultivators and could just use blood sacrifice to entice heavenly devils to come, whereupon hundreds of thousands of residents of an entire town would be demonized one by one. Not to mention a few cultivators, even if it was an entire cultivation sect, they can engulf everyone to the point that not even a slag is left!"
"Hei hei, hei hei hei hei!"
Having heard his reply, the chivalrous hero suddenly burst into a sinister laughter.
With a flash, the bright and shining atmosphere turned into a gloomy and terrifying cave, while the chivalrous hero also transformed into an evil figure whose hair was hanging loose and had skulls hanging around his neck.
"If it is like this, then we should simply shed all pretenses of cordiality and become devil cultivators one after another! The more devil cultivators there are, the better it is. We can do anything we wish, take anything we want, and live a free and unfettered life to the extreme!"
Li Yao blinked his eyes and said, "Can a shop which had been selling bread for a few decades suddenly start selling pasta and compete with a nearby shop who has been selling pasta since the ancestral generation?"
The chivalrous hero was surprised for a moment. He was a construct which had been created from telepathic thoughts of countless experts and was unable to respond to such a strange question. He asked dully, "What?"
Li Yao explained:
"It is not impossible for us cultivators to turn into devil cultivators; however, the opposite side has been cultivating devil’s path for a few dozen millenniums and have already accumulated a wealth of experience. Whereas, we are just beginners who are cultivating devil’s path for the first time, so how could we compete with the other side?"
"We are like the shop which has been selling bread for a few decades who, upon noticing that the pasta shop next to us is flourishing, switched to selling pasta. How could we compete with them? Not to mention, the pasta shop is not necessarily flourishing! After all, in the 3,000 boundless universes, cultivators are still in the main trend, whereas devil cultivators are nothing but stray dogs!"
The chivalrous hero remained silent for a moment:
"You mean to say, we set out to be tigers but end up as dogs. If we cultivators turn into devil cultivators, we will be worse than devil cultivators, will simply be unable to compete with authentic devil cultivators, and can only become the lowest of rungs in the devil world?"
"That's for sure. Take you for example:/— do you think that having messy hair and a few skulls hanging around your neck and switching off the lights will make you a devil cultivator? How can it be so simple?! Devil cultivators are the ones who tempt ordinary people. How can you even tempt anyone with that ghastly appearance of yours!?"
Li Yao looked up and down at the chivalrous hero before he shook his head again and again: "It is only us cultivators who call evil and depraved cultivators as devil cultivators. They will definitely not call themselves as 'devils'. I have heard that some devil cultivators even call themselves 'immortal cultivators' and say that they walk on the road of true immortality. Even if they have tenebrum energy around them or have some ugly and hideous appearance because of cultivating evil techniques, in front of ordinary people, they would transform themselves into charismatic and robust figures and would take the shape where a halo is overflowing from them. Only this way will it be significantly handier to entice ordinary people!"
The chivalrous hero turned silent.
In the depths of the dark cave, a swaying candle light drew very, very long shadows of the two.
"Bang Bang!" Li Yao's heart kept on pounding.
His answer from a moment ago was just a reactionary remark; he was just playing by the ear. When he recalled, he discovered that there were a lot of oversights.
If the invigilator was hell-bent on finding faults, then he would definitely be unable to do anything.
After a moment, a transformation once again took place in the environment around the two, returning the two once again to the previous summit of the hill where there was a gentle breeze, a blue sky, and fresh air. The chivalrous hero also reverted back into his awe-inspiring, righteous appearance.
"Congratulation, Student Li Yao. The course, you... pass! You got three credits!"
Li Yao's heartbeat slowed down in a moment. He was wild with joy to the point that he could run three laps around the chivalrous hero. He unwittingly blurted out, "H-have I truly passed? Were my answers correct?"
The chivalrous hero shook his head with a smile:
"No, everyone's understanding of the word ‘chivalry’ is different. The laws of the cultivation civilization are profound and abstruse, so how can there be any correct answer?"
"No doubt there were some bright points in your claims, while some are just lame arguments and perverted logic."
"However, this course is not about some correct answer. Rather, it is to see your own understanding of the word ‘chivalry’. As long as it is not a verbatim of textbooks or some big and empty words, as long as they are substantive and constructive words, then you pass."
"Unfortunately, too many students only know the dogma of the books and spoke of some nonsense like 'I have a strong sense of justice and our generation’s duty is to help the weak'. In that case, it is better to fail them."
"As for the true understanding of the word ‘chivalry’, how can you and I explain it clearly in a word or two? Fortunately, you have a lifetime to find its meaning. I hope that someday, you can find your own answer!"
"Good luck, Student Li Yao!"
The illusionary realm suddenly broke into fragments, whereupon Li Yao returned to the main world of the Wasteland Battle Network.
Three pieces of glittering diamond crystals whizzed over from the sky and quickly submerged into his body.
A clear and melodious female voice rang in his mind:
"Student Li Yao, you have passed the exam and have obtained three credits. Your cumulative credits are 207. In the Newcomer Ranking, you are ranked… first!"