Chapter 7 The Five Stages of the Martial Sciences Exam
Fang Ping, whose head was swimming with ways to earn money, was once again crushed by reality.
When he walked out of his room, he found Fang Yuan who had been waiting for him at his door for a while now.
The moment she saw Fang Ping, Fang Yuan groaned pitifully. “I’m hungry!”
“Why don’t you get something to eat if you’re hungry?” Fang Ping replied nonchalantly.
Hearing that, Fang Yuan puckered her small lips and complained, “I’ve no money. And we ran out of leftover rice too.
“The 50 bucks that mom gave us two days ago were meant for our three days’ worth of lunch.
“The money’s with you now. So, where should we go for lunch?”
“Spending money for lunch?” Fang Ping felt attacked. He replied dryly, “Why didn’t you bring this up this morning?”
He remembered how happy the brat looked when she ate the skewers he had bought for her!
Fang Ping had no doubt that this little brat would spend the last 10 bucks if he allowed it.
The main point was that he only had 10 bucks left. This brat seemed reluctant to use her own 5 bucks. Unless she was planning to suck him dry?
It would not be unexpected at all.
Fang Yuan replied blatantly, “Of course we need to spend money on food. You took all the money so I don’t have to think about getting food.
“Fang Ping, I’m hungry! It’s almost one now. I want to eat!”
“Fang Ping, I’m super hungry. I’m so hungry I don’t think I’ll be able to walk…” Fang Yuan rubbed her small, childish belly and pretended to be miserable.
Fang Ping struggled between laughing and crying. He extended a hand and gently pinched her chubby cheeks. Eventually, he gave in and said, “Alright, let’s eat. And I thought I really used up your pocket money. Thankfully it’s food money. I almost forgot about this myself. But of course, you’re aware of this, aren’t you?
“You little brat, should you be plotting against your brother this way? Now, we’ll have to discard our previous agreement…”
“No!” Fang Yuan shook her head vigorously. With a reluctant expression on her face, she paused briefly before fishing out 5 bucks from her pocket. Her eyes lingered on the note and she said, “This is for you. You said you’ll buy tasty things, clothes, and a computer for me… You better keep your promise.”
Despite always fighting Fang Ping, Fang Yuan was close to her brother.
Although currently impossible, since Fang Ping promised to buy her good food and pretty clothes, the little girl was looking forward to the day Fang Ping graduated from university and fulfilled his promise.
For the sake of that future, Fang Yuan relented and decided to contribute all of her remaining assets. She had eaten Fang Ping’s 5 bucks worth of skewers in the morning anyway.
The little lady calculated it all out with her hypothetical abacus. Fang Ping felt humored, yet at the same time, helpless.
Fang Ping was now convinced that he was powerless without some amount of money on himself.
After returning from their meal, Fang Ping was utterly bankrupt. If he did not need those ten thousand bucks to pay for his tuition fees, then he could still consider himself somewhat wealthy.
Fortunately, the pair of siblings ate 5 bucks worth of fast food each. 10 bucks were just enough for them.
Fang Ping could not bear to use the little lady’s 5 bucks. She was already studying in junior high. A girl like her could always use some pocket money.
Without money, the siblings had no intention to go out in the afternoon.
The hard truth was that if Fang Ping did not bring the ten thousand bucks with him, he would not be able to pay to use the public toilet if he needed to pee on his way.
Fang Yuan had homework to complete. She was well aware of her older brother’s financial crisis and thus, chose not to irk him any longer. She went to her room and worked on completing her homework like a saint.
Meanwhile, Fang Ping returned to his room too. He started making plans for his future.
There were only two things on Fang Ping’s mind currently — one, prepare for martial sciences exams; two, earn money.
Improving his family’s life was still secondary as it was not extremely urgent.
The main issue was that without money, he would not be able to pass his martial arts exam.
In spite of having that system that was not quite as reliable, Fang Ping thought he would still be able to become a martial artist.
The problem was… To be a martial artist, one had to be strong in Vitality?
What about cultivation methods?
How to train one’s physical body and achieve breakthroughs beyond one’s limit?
When it came down to questions like these, Fang Ping had absolutely no answer at all. Without professional training, there was no telling when he would attain the necessary knowledge. Obviously, Gaokao was the fastest shortcut to achieve that.
For that purpose, Fang Ping definitely had a lot of planning to do.
Around three in the afternoon, his mother, Li Yuying returned home with dinner that she had picked up on her way home.
Despite working a half-day job, her actual working hours were nearly eight hours. It was not as easy as most people thought it was.
Fang Ping handed over the bank card and showed her the ten thousand bucks he took. Li Yuying had no intention to hold on to the money for safekeeping and allowed Fang Ping to pay for his martial sciences exam registration himself.
Intuition told her that her daughter and son must have ran out of money, so Li Yuying handed Fang Ping another 50 bucks to pay for meals.
Perhaps worried that her daughter would be scammed by her son again, Li Yuying personally gave Fang Yuan another 20 bucks this time. With the money in her hand, the little brat’s smile stretched from ear to ear.
Fang Ping felt the urge to tell his mom that he did not scam the brat! It was the cunning brat who kept pushing her older brother’s buttons!
7th April, Monday.
Compared to his previous state of confusion, Fang Ping appeared to be more at ease as he returned to school today.
His deskmate, Chen Fan, arrived earlier than Fang Ping.
When Fang Ping arrived, Chen Fan was already halfway through his practice test. It was uncertain if he started on the test in the early morning or he worked on it earlier than that.
Since Chen Fan was not signing up for the martial sciences exam, he focused all his efforts on the social sciences.
He might not make it through the martial sciences, but if he managed to enroll in a prestigious university in social sciences, he would still be highly sought after compared to the graduates from the typical social sciences universities.
Upon noticing Fang Ping’s arrival, Chen Fan put down his writing utensil and looked up. “Fang Ping, have you completed the math practice test that our teacher gave us the day before yesterday? Let’s compare answers.”
Fang Ping laughed dryly. Did he know if he completed his set himself? The test was given to him the day before yesterday and he had not touched his school bag for the past two days. Now, only God knew if he completed it.
Fang Ping’s facial expression gave Chen Fan his answer. Chen Fan furrowed his brows and said, “Fang Ping, we don’t have much time left before Gaokao. I know we haven’t got a lot of classes now and everything is revision-based, but perhaps if we practice a bit more, we’ll be able to pass our Gaokao?”
“You’re right. You’re right. Lil Fan Fan, everything you say is true. I’ve been so dazed recently, I’ll do it as soon as I can.”
Chen Fan felt somewhat resigned. It was not because of Fang Ping’s choice of terms of endearment to him though, since that was not the first time the fellow called Chen Fan that.
In Chen Fan’s eyes, Fang Ping had given up on himself.
In this society, even though martial artists possessed a higher status than the common folk, even the common folk was segregated according to social status.
They could be the wealthy, the poor, the ones with some power, employees working for someone else, the ones who worked in large enterprises, workers in factories…
All of them lived completely different lives.
Sun City No.1 High School was the best High School in Sun City. Fang Ping’s Year 3 Senior exam results did not stand out but it was not all that bad either.
If Fang Ping worked harder, there was still hope for him to enroll in a National Key University. 1
If sudden good fortune ever found him, it would not be impossible for him to get into some name-brand schools after all the good students signed up for martial sciences exam.
However, if he gave up now, he would have problems enrolling in National Key Universities, what more the name-brand universities.
As Fang Ping’s deskmate for two years now, Chen Fan knew that Fang Ping’s financial background was similar to his own, although Fang Ping was slightly less fortunate than him. Having to feed two children cost more after all.
Chen Fan had half a mind to say something to Fang Ping but when the words almost spilled out of his mouth, he swallowed them back down. Fang Ping appeared to be slacking off slightly just for the past two days.
Mid-conversation, Yang Jian (future crumb-catcher) from the front row turned around and said with a smile, “Fang Ping, Chen Fan, have you seen the news?”
Fang Ping rolled his eyes. ‘As a future bearded buffoon, your interest in gossip is unnerving,’ he thought.
Chen Fan did not bother answering Yang Jian too. He spent all his free time working on his practice tests. Where would he find the time to keep up to date with the news?
Yang Jian was not bothered by their lack of response either and continued, “There’s another leak on the Internet! It says that the battle between Grandmaster Ma and Tam will be held at the end of this month.
“Also, the location of the battle has been revealed to be here, in our country, China!
“Now, all the reporters are flocking over there. Maybe there will even be a video…”
Yang Jian spat everywhere during his speech. After all, globally, a battle between Rank-8 grandmasters rarely occurred.
Perhaps there were a few before, yet they were either too young to remember or the battles were held in private. Outsiders could only know the result, not the process.
It was different this time. It probably had something to do with the advancement in information technology that enabled news to travel fast, giving everyone information beforehand. With the Internet’s assistance, perhaps they could even watch the battle via livestream.
After gossiping about Brother Ma’s battle, Yang Jian quickly changed the subject to himself, “The registration for martial sciences exam begins today. My dad says I should sign up no matter how much it costs. The ol’Yang family has high hopes for me passing my martial sciences exam and becoming a martial artist.
“The pressure on me is so high right now. What would I do if I don’t pass? Can you give me some suggestions?”
Fang Ping chuckled. “Say, are you bragging? Or are you bragging?”
Yang Jian smirked. He quickly shook his head and said, “I’m not! I’m feeling intense stress right now. You know very well how things are for me — among the Five Stages of the Martial Sciences Exam, it’s already not bad if I can pass three. Anything more than that is impossible!”
“The Five Stages of the Martial Sciences Exam?”
Initially, Fang Ping had no interest in what Yang Jian was saying at all.
Yet now, there was nothing but burning curiosity in Fang Ping’s eyes.