A group of people surrounded “His Highness Eighty-Six” and praised him with one voice.
Although Huang Rang’s feelings were complicated, she still squeezed into the crowd.
The empress was dressed in magnificent attire and had a beautiful face. However, she had just given birth to a child and appeared somewhat weak.
His Highness Eighty- Six in her arms was tightly wrapped in swaddling clothes because it was already autumn, and she was afraid he would catch a cold. The empress only allowed everyone to take a quick look before letting the wet nurse take him away.
Huang Rang couldn’t even touch him.
She gazed at the baby being carried away, her face filled with the vicissitudes of life.
After the full moon celebration, Qu Manying and He Xijin were about to return to the Ruyi Sword Sect. As they were about to leave, Qu Manying accompanied Huang Rang in choosing the best dormitory. He Xijin was busy buying mattresses and blankets, and the couple even prepared everything for her.
They didn’t leave out even a bowl or a cup, making sure she had everything she needed.
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Huang Rang escorted them to the door and watched as the two of them boarded the carriage.
Throughout her life, she had never felt such attachment before. However, in the end, in the human world, there were gatherings and partings.
She kept waiting until the carriage of the two people had gone far away, then Huang Rang returned to the breeding institute.
The current breeding institution is not large in scale. It was just a small academy tucked away in the Ministry of Works. The total number of students inside was just over a hundred. Moreover, there were only two Earth Spirit Clan members. Now, with Huang Rang, there were only three.
For other ordinary people trying to learn breeding, it was difficult to achieve success. Most of them only acquired some theoretical knowledge and became teachers themselves.
As a result, the court didn’t place much importance on this place, and the annual funds allocated were very limited. This fact was evident from the humble environment of the breeding institute.
Huang Rang walked inside, looking around as she went.
At the entrance of the breeding institute, there was a wooden sign with a black inscription on a white background that read “breeding institute” with the signature of “Master Zong Zigui” at the end.
Upon entering through this door, on the left side was the Ministry of Works’ warehouse, where a jumble of wood, iron nails, hammers, and other items were piled up haphazardly. On the right was the school of the breeding institute.
Moving further in, you would reach the dormitories where the students lived.
Huang Rang entered the institute and saw that Master Zong Zigui was giving a lecture. He was the only teacher here.
He cast a glance at Huang Rang, sighed, and said, “Go sit over there!”
Huang Rang followed his pointed direction, which was the last row, and indeed, there were still empty seats. She nodded in response and, under the scrutiny of all the students, went to the back row. She was only eight years old, and she was already quite small. In a classroom with over a hundred students, sitting in the last row meant that even the teacher couldn’t see her.
But Master Zong Zigui didn’t pay her much mind. After all, she was just an eight-year-old child and, moreover, an Earth Spirit Clan member. What could she understand?
One could say that Master He and his wife were a bit too hasty in this matter.
Master Zong Zigui sighed inwardly, hoping that this child wouldn’t cry or make a fuss. Otherwise, how would he comfort her?
Huang Rang sat down and didn’t cry or make a fuss—there was really no need for that.
The last row was a good spot, ensuring that she wouldn’t attract too much attention no matter what she did.
Huang Rang opened the textbook on her desk, and to her surprise, it was not a breeding manual but a locally printed book.
It had been a long time since Huang Rang had seen such an old-fashioned textbook.
Immortal cultivation manuals were not only weightless but also had illuminated text. They were designed for quick memorization and reference. If you needed to change the content, you could simply rewrite it. In contrast, these old textbooks were indeed heavy and inconvenient.
Huang Rang flipped through a few pages and found that their theoretical knowledge was quite extensive.
She immersed herself in reading, while at the lectern, Master Zong Zigui taught earnestly. He was dressed in a white scholar’s robe with a scholar’s cap, appearing serious and knowledgeable.
When the lesson was nearly over, he said, “After class, go to the fields and put today’s lessons into practice. Be diligent in recording the germination dates and the frequency of watering and fertilization.”
There are fields to practice in.
Huang Rang’s spirits were lifted. It seemed that Earth Spirit Clan members were naturally interested in soil and breeding.
The previous martial arts cultivation in her dream was truly unbearable.
Master Zong Zigui led all the students to the back fields. Each student carried carbon pencils and paper and quickly found their own plots of land, where they began recording the growth of the seedlings.
Huang Rang looked around and couldn’t help but feel disappointed—these trial fields were so small. The key issue was that such small fields were divided into over a hundred plots for over a hundred students to use.
What could you grow on such tiny plots?
Huang Rang walked to the edge of the field and saw that each small plot of land had a numbered tag.
Master Zong Zigui, with his hands behind his back, went to inspect the seedlings in each plot. Huang Rang couldn’t help but ask, “Teacher, where is my plot of land?”
“You?” Master Zong Zigui seemed to have just remembered that there was a new student named Huang Rang. He furrowed his brows and, after a while, said, “You are still too young. Listen to the lessons for now. When you grow a little older, the teacher will allocate a large and fertile plot of land for you. Is that alright?”
There was a hint of trying to placate a child in his words, but Huang Rang wasn’t buying it. She immediately rolled her eyes and said, “Are you trying to deceive me just because I’m young, Teacher? I’ve heard that the breeding institute charges a tuition fee in exchange for access to the trial fields.”
She snorted and continued, “If the teacher doesn’t give me a trial field but still collects the same tuition fee, where’s the fairness in that?”
“Ah?!” Master Zong Zigui was taken aback and chuckled after a moment. “You, little girl, are quite clever for your age.”
He looked around, feeling awkward. The breeding institute had a fixed number of students each year. With Huang Rang suddenly appearing, where could he find a trial field for her?
But he couldn’t refuse either—after all, this was a child sent by He Xijin. It wouldn’t look good if she ended up crying.
He had to find a way to accommodate her.
His gaze wandered for a moment, and then he pointed to a distant spot and said, “Alright, teacher will allocate this plot of land to you. How does that sound?”
It was a barren piece of land, right next to the entrance steps, consisting of sandy soil with a few wild grasses growing on it.
Master Zong Zigui tried to convince Huang Rang, “Look at how big this plot is, isn’t it?”
While speaking, he was afraid that Huang Rang would cry or make a fuss, so he found a student ID tag and planted it in her plot.
Huang Rang glanced at it for a moment but still grumbled, “For this piece of land, you should at least refund half of my tuition fee to my aunt and uncle.”
Master Zong Zigui was getting nervous about her persistence and chuckled, “Yes, yes, yes, Teacher is benefiting from your presence, it seems.”
Fortunately, Huang Rang didn’t dwell on it too much.
The breeding institute provided farming tools to all the students, and she received a set, starting to tend to this piece of land.
Of course, no one took her seriously—she was an eight-year-old student, and the breeding institute had never had one before. Even if she were an Earth Spirit Clan member, what could she possibly understand?
He Xijin probably just found a place for her to play. After all, the Ruyi Sword Sect had plenty of resources.
Huang Rang surveyed this small piece of barren land and wondered what she could grow here.
Sighing as she weeded the area, she couldn’t help but think, “I came to the capital eagerly for my Di Yiqiu, only to find out that he’s just a tiny baby. Not only that, he’s still in the palace, so I can’t even see him. Meanwhile, I have to toil away here on this small piece of barren land.”
“I must have been born with bad luck.”
Finally, she had the chance to enjoy life with her aunt and uncle, but it felt like she had jumped from a pot of rice into a pot of bran.
Huang Rang was full of complaints.
But she had no choice.
Seasons passed, with autumn turning to spring and spring to autumn. Huang Rang watched as the breeding institute planted one batch of seeds after another, and in the blink of an eye, four years had passed. Even a place like the breeding institute has produced several batches of renowned strains.
But Huang Rang had achieved nothing.
She lay flat in the breeding institute, ignoring the lectures and avoiding practical work, wasting the tuition fees that He Xijin paid every year.
After spending over a hundred years as a “Rolling king” in her previous dream, she had now become a salted fish.
(T/N: “Rolling king” here means that she was extremely diligent and hardworking in cultivation in the second dream…..salted fish 咸鱼 (xiányú) is a metaphor for people who have no intention of doing anything.)
Master Zong Zigui often complained to He Xijin, but He Xijin always pulled him aside for a lengthy self-reflection, followed by a few thousand words of gratitude towards Master Zong Zigui. After two rounds of complaints, Master Zong Zigui finally stopped complaining.
In that year, the empress passed away.
His Highness Eighty- Six was just four years old at the time, and he was skilled and meticulous, showing a keen interest in metallurgy and alchemy.
Emperor Shi Wenyu sent him to the Ministry of Works and arranged for him to apprentice under the master metallurgist, Qiu Yanming.
Because the royal princes and princesses were deprived of their surnames and noble titles from an early age, Qiu Yanming named him Di Yiqiu.
From then on, His Highness Eighty-Six was raised in the Ministry of Works, honing his skills.
Huang Rang learned of this news and was quite excited, thinking it was a stroke of good fortune.
But she didn’t anticipate that even if His Highness Eighty-Six had left the royal family, he was still an incredibly esteemed figure. Qiu Yanming was a renowned name throughout the realm. The teacher and disciple not only had a heavily guarded residence but also worked in an area that was off-limits to outsiders.
So, despite her eagerness, Huang Rang had no way to intervene.
One day, as usual, Huang Rang didn’t attend her classes. She followed the information she had managed to gather and quietly sneaked into one of the well-guarded metalworking rooms in the Ministry of Works.
Fortunately, her previous experience in martial cultivation had come in handy. Otherwise, infiltrating this heavily guarded place would have been extremely difficult.
Huang Rang climbed onto the wall and stealthily peered into the courtyard.
In the courtyard, there stood a massive metalworking pavilion. Renowned master metallurgist Qiu Yanming sat in a reclining chair, and in front of him, a young boy was diligently carving a piece of jade artifact.
Huang Rang was quite far away and couldn’t see the details of the jade carving. She could only see the boy’s head, which was slightly bowed, revealing an extremely delicate and adorable side profile. Tilting her head, she tried to get a better view of his entire face, feeling that the boy was exceptionally handsome.
Thinking about the students in the breeding institute, she found them all rather coarse compared to this boy. He was much more refined in her eyes.
She balanced on her tiptoes, attempting to climb higher.
However, it seemed like the boy in the courtyard sensed something and suddenly turned to look in her direction.
Huang Rang was caught off guard by his clear gaze, nearly tumbling off the courtyard wall.
“Focus!” Qiu Yanming noticed the boy’s distraction and said it sternly.
The boy softly replied, “Master, there’s someone on the wall.”
Qiu Yanming raised an eyebrow and reprimanded, “A master metallurgist should maintain unwavering concentration and not be affected by external distractions. Do you understand your mistake?”
The boy said, “Disciple understands.”
Huang Rang’s heart melted upon hearing this.
However, Qiu Yanming continued, “The person outside is a student from the breeding institute who has achieved nothing after several years, a disappointment among the Earth Spirit Clan. You must not follow her example.”
Huang Rang was left speechless.
But when the boy heard this, he furrowed his brow and said, “The master’s teachings will be remembered by the disciple.”
No, wait, let me explain!!!
Huang Rang silently cried out, but as soon as the boy received his master’s reprimand, he became completely engrossed in his carving, not even shifting his gaze the slightest bit.
Huang Rang perched on the wall for a long time until Qiu Yanming saw that his disciple was no longer distracted by external factors.
Then he called over the guards, and they apprehended Huang Rang.
In the process, he also scolded Master Zong Zigui.
Master Zong Zigui, inexplicably reprimanded by his admired senior, was infuriated. He punished Huang Rang by making her carry a water bucket on her head and stand overnight.
However, in the latter half of the night, still simmering with anger, he poured another bucket of water into the one Huang Rang was already carrying.
The next day, Huang Rang sneaked into the metalworking room once again.
She saw Di Yiqiu with his sleeves rolled up, diligently learning woodworking.
“Di Yiqiu…” Huang Rang whispered softly when she didn’t see Qiu Yanming around.
However, in the courtyard, Di Yiqiu remained unmoved, as if he hadn’t heard her.
Huang Rang could only toss a bag of candied fruits from her pocket.
The candied fruits landed on the smoothly planed wooden board with a crisp sound, but Di Yiqiu paid no attention to them.
Inside the room, Qiu Yanming praised, “Very good. This disciple deserves my teachings and is worthy of my late years’ efforts in teaching and passing on the skills.” After saying that, he looked at Huang Rang on the wall and instantly transformed from a benevolent father figure into an angry dog. “You little brat, dare to come here again, and I’ll break your legs! Get lost!”
With that, he picked up the candied fruits from the courtyard and threw them at Huang Rang. She narrowly avoided getting hit in the face thanks to her agility.
A few days later, Huang Rang climbed the wall again, only to feel a sharp pain in her hand. When she examined it, she discovered that the wall was now covered in spikes.
Huang Rang was furious. She returned to the breeding institute and worked diligently for several days. Then, carrying a bag of seeds, she went to the metalworking academy and scattered the seeds around the area.
Three days later, the metalworking academy was overgrown with thorns. These thorns grew at a visible rate and were incredibly tough. Ordinary tools couldn’t cut through them.
The Ministry of Works tried to dig them out endlessly, but they watched in frustration as the thorns climbed up the walls and entered through the windows.
The metalworking academy had no choice but to halt work and remove the thorns.
No one understood the reason behind this, except for the young Eighty-Sixth Prince, who knew that these thorns came from her.
“That girl who always climbs over the courtyard walls to spy on us isn’t a decent person,” he thought.
“Master was right!”
Huang Rang continued to come day after day, but Di Yiqiu never spoke to her.
Now, he had learned not to be affected by her presence. No matter what strange noises she made or what actions she took, he focused solely on his metalworking, seemingly oblivious to her.
As days passed, Master Zong Zigui advised Huang Rang to leave the institute and return to her family’s farming.
However, no matter how persuasively he spoke, Huang Rang paid no attention. On the other hand, Master He Xijin didn’t dare to intervene.
So, this salted fish earned a reputation at the breeding institute. Everyone knew there was a student who struggled academically at the institute.
Thirteen years of study, yet no achievements to show for it. It wasn’t until this year that Emperor Shi Wenyu failed to recruit the Yuhu Immortal Sect and decided to officially cultivate the Longevity Dao. He changed the nation’s name to Chengyuan.
In the early years of Chengyuan, the court announced the establishment of the Celestial Court, with the Eighty-Sixth Prince, Di Yiqiu, appointed as its chief. All matters related to the immortal sects, including metalworking, alchemy, and cultivation, were placed under the jurisdiction of the Celestial Court.
After Di Yiqiu took up the position of chief, Emperor Shi Wenyu once again invested a significant sum of money to persuade the wandering immortals Li Lu and Bao Wu to serve as deputy chiefs. Later, the Celestial Court, which would become renowned in the immortal sects and nearly rival the Yuhu Immortal Sect, began to take shape.
Naturally, the breeding institute was also incorporated into the Celestial Court, and all the students were required to address Di Yiqiu as “teacher.”
So, to her surprise, Huang Rang, who had been a salted fish for fourteen years, found herself becoming his disciple.
“Well, although it’s awkward, I’m still happy for you. Di Yiqiu, welcome back,” she thought.
Her happiness was short-lived, as she received a decree from the chief himself. This dog thing—does he always remember me? Also thinking about me. So as soon as he took office, he couldn’t wait to write a letter to me?!
Huang Rang was trembling with excitement as she opened the decree, only to find it was a document of expulsion.
Di Yiqiu had not wanted to give her even this decree. If it weren’t for the sake of the He family, he might have sent someone to forcibly remove Huang Rang from the breeding institute.
He had developed an extreme dislike for this fourteen-year-old salted fish who had achieved nothing. He was always diligent and disliked idlers. Unfortunately, Huang Rang, using He Xijin’s tuition fees, had done nothing but waste time, behaving like a loafer.
What a mess!!
Meanwhile, Huang Rang stared at the document of expulsion with the words “lack of accomplishments,” feeling like a dagger in her heart.
“You son of a b*tch,” she muttered to herself.
“How dare you despise me for not achieving anything in my studies? Let me stab you in the butt with a small knife to make you open your eyes.”
(T/N: “teacher” the pronunciation of the Chinese word is: xiān sheng. The literal meaning is a person who was born earlier than oneself and is older than oneself; it also means a person who is first exposed to unfamiliar things, which is extended to a person who is exposed to unfamiliar things first…. other than ‘Teacher‘ ,xiān sheng could also means gentleman; sir; mister (Mr.) but in this chapter i decide to use the word ‘teacher’)