Chapter 26: The Exam Begins
Translator: ryuxenji Editor: mjn0898
It was evident that the physical endurance of the bodies of children in this time period was very high. No matter how angry Luo Lang was, his stance was still tall and steady. The only sign of his building anger was the stormy expression on his face.
Seeing Luo Lang's expression, Ling Lan felt a little bad. After all, she was already over 30 years old if you counted the span of both her lives, which meant she could already be considered a weird auntie of sorts — how could she bully a young child like this?
A little remorsefully, Ling Lan smiled at Luo Lang and said, "I was just joking. Please don't be mad."
Ling Lan's smile startled Luo Lang, and her sudden submissive attitude also threw him for a loop. He stood there gaping, nonplussed, and the other children burst out laughing once again. There was no helping it really, for his bewildered look was just too adorable — even his sister had started giggling softly. She quickly stifled it, however, and lowered her head bashfully, chastising herself mentally for her actions. How could she laugh at her brother who had always watched out for her?
Meanwhile, Ling Lan was having a headache over her reflexive smile. It was so troublesome. After she had accidentally revealed her 'seductive' smile once again, Little Four had gone ballistic, and she now had her hands full trying to calm him down.
Leaving Ling Lan aside, who was busy with the ballistic Little Four, Luo Lang had been shaken out of his stupor by the others' laughter. When he found that he had once again embarrassed himself, two splotches of red flushed over his ivory skin, spreading all the way to the roots of his ears.
Then, he channelled his embarrassment into anger and lunged at Ling ... uh, Ling Lan's side where Qi Long was standing, and pushed him to the ground. Just like that, the two of them began to wrestle as they rolled around on the field.
Qi Long and Luo Lang were all tangled up with one another — Qi Long's friend Han Jijyun did not try to help, only pulling Ling Lan and Han Xuya aside to watch as they fought. Meanwhile, Luo Lang's sister had also silently retreated a few steps out of the way, but she continued to watch her brother with worried eyes.
With some difficulty, Ling Lan finally managed to calm Little Four, only to return to awareness to find that no one was trying to stop the fight. This baffled Ling Lan. In her past world, if any children started to fight, they would be pulled apart as soon as possible to resolve their problems peacefully. But here, although there were staff members on the field not far from them, they just continued with what they were doing as if nothing was happening — what exactly was going on? Ling Lan felt that her world view was being challenged by this new world’s order.
Ling Lan was not someone who could suppress her curiosity. She immediately turned to ask Han Jijyun about the situation, earning yet another appraising gaze from him. However, when he saw that Ling Lan really did not understand what was going on, he was rather stunned. This was pretty basic general knowledge that should have been taught by a father. Had Ling Lan’s father not told him about it?
Even though Han Jijyun had his doubts, he still explained to Ling Lan, "This is a habit we've learned since we were little. If we need to resolve a problem with someone, fighting is permitted. However, no matter who wins or loses, the matter is considered closed after the fight."
What a strange way of educating their children ... are they not afraid of encouraging violence? Once again Ling Lan was struck by how different the values and principles of her previous education were compared to the survival of the fittest mentality of this world. For example, no matter the origins of a child – whether he was a commoner, an elite, or a noble – the first ambition of all the children here was to join the military. The second ambition was also to join the military, and the third ambition ... was still to join the military. Because strength was might, and military men were the strongest, especially if they managed to become a mecha operator. Only those whose bodies did not meet the requirements would give up on this dream of the military and reluctantly choose another profession.
Since young, the education Ling Lan received was geared towards preparing her to become a mecha operator, the strongest of the strong. Everything she learned worked towards this goal, while her mum and Chamberlain Ling Qin had never even thought to ask her whether she wanted to be one.
Honestly, she was rather apathetic towards the idea of becoming a mecha operator. She was a girl, after all, with very little interest in fighting. She could never have guessed that she would travel to this warring world where the people were militarised, and, even more unexpectedly, that she would have a mecha learning device as a contracted follower ...
Ling Lan couldn't help but rub her jaw thoughtfully. Could it be that this was fate? Was everything that had happened trying to tell her that she was destined to walk the path of a mecha operator?
Qi Long and Luo Lang were still fighting neck and neck — although Qi Long was actually slightly better in terms of fighting power, Luo Lang had stubborn determination on his side. So, although Luo Lang was slightly disadvantaged, he was still managing to hold his own against Qi Long.
Ling Lan really wanted to know the outcome of their fight, but when she saw that the staff member in charge of calling out the test groups was getting closer and closer to their numbers, she knew that there was no chance the fight would end in time. With some regret, she called out, "It looks like it'll be our turn soon. Are you guys sure it's alright to continue fighting like this?"
The two boys froze at the same time, but Luo Lang reacted faster than Qi Long. He shoved Qi Long aside and scrambled off the ground, and started to fix his clothing and appearance. Although he could no longer revert to his initial pristine princely presence no matter how hard he tried, his proper upbringing would not allow him to face the examiner in such a dishevelled state.
Qi Long was caught unprepared and was sent tumbling twice over by Luo Lang's push. He quickly clambered up as well and said huffily, "Wait till the test is over, let's continue our fight then." He was utterly unconcerned with his mussed up appearance, only swiping at his forehead twice to get rid of some sweat before letting it be.
Naturally, Luo Lang refused to back down as well, so the two agreed that they would determine the true winner after the testing ended.
Oh, such spirited and competitive young children! Ling Lan felt old, for she could not find any sense in their random fight. By this time, Ling Lan had forgotten that she was actually the culprit who instigated Luo Lang's fight with Qi Long.
The testing proceeded rapidly — Qi Long and Luo Lang had barely caught their breath when their group was already being called up by the staff member. The ten people in Ling Lan's party dared not dawdle and quickly ran over.
The ten of them stood on the race track and made their final preparations. Then, an examiner walked over to explain how the testing would go. He asked them to get ready to run from the start line, and explained that they would have to safely arrive at the end line to complete this test. As for scoring, that would depend on how much time they took to complete the course.
As Ling Lan got ready, she did not forget to keep an eye on the group of testees before them. This was a habit she had developed after multiple encounters with Number One — every time Number One appeared, his every action could be a test, so Ling Lan always had to be on her toes, making sure she caught every little hint in his actions and his words. This strict caution had become a part of her basic instincts.
Ling Lan saw the previous group speed off at the examiner's command, and soon she could no longer see their silhouettes ...
"Do you see it?" Han Jijyun leaned close and whispered to her. He had also noticed something strange.
"Hn, even though the sun is shining brightly in the sky, there is fog on the track ... " Ling Lan pointed out the problem, which explained why the group before them had disappeared so quickly before their eyes.
"Looks like the track here is under some area-of-effect illusion technology — this test is not as straightforward as it seems." Han Jijyun was an intelligent boy who had a deep understanding of advanced technology which other kids (like Ling Lan) may not have.
Han Jijyun's warning made Ling Lan secretly raise her guard.
Very soon, the examiner at the starting line called Ling Lan's group over. Once he had confirmed they were ready, he gave the command, and they were off.
Qi Long immediately rushed forward at the head of the group, with Luo Lang close on his heels. It seemed like the two of them were determined to make a competition out of this as well.
Ling Lan was third, and Han Jijyun was right behind Ling Lan. This strategic child had the same idea as Ling Lan — they were planning to follow behind Qi Long for now as they observed their surroundings. Meanwhile, the other kids were all following at various paces behind Han Jijyun.