The town of Odin (Ào dīng), contains 3000 households and is located at the southern border of the Temple Alliance (Shèng diàn liánméng) and counts itself as one of the bigger towns under the city of Hao Yue (Hàoyuè chéng).
The morning sun rises, its bright and warm touch carefully nurturing the earth, as if it was calling for everyone to wake up. At this time, at the center of the town of Odin, in a relatively big two-story building of more than a thousand square meters, there is an examination going on.
“Tell me, why do you want to become knights?” A vigorous, powerful voice, a hint of metallic, rings.
“To defend humanity, to defend the kind hearted, to defend the Temple Alliance, to defend our families.” The voices answering the question sound young and coordinated, clearly, it’s not the first time they had answer to this question.
This two story building is the knight temple hall of the town of Odin, abbreviated as Odin Hall, is the place where the potential children are selected to undergo training to become knights.
Today, there are a little more than 30 children, all attending the selection test to become the most basic squire. Only after they become a squire can they proceed to study and practice there.
The master of the vigorous sound is a tall, burly middle aged strongly built man. He is called Balza (Bā’ěr zhā) and is the chief knight teacher of Odin Hall. It is said that when he was in his prime, he was very, very close to becoming a Genuine Knight.
“Tell me, what are the standards of a knight?” Balza severely glares at the bunch of kids ranging from 8 to 10 years old.
Once more, the answer is coordinated, “Modesty, honesty, compassion, courage, fairness, sacrifice, honor, perseverance, love, and justice”.
Balza nods, satisfied, “Good, all of you here have already practiced for one year, today we will hold the examination. Squires are classified from the first to tenth level, corresponding to a spiritual energy between ten and a hundred. Your task of today will be to attain at least a spiritual energy of above ten and thus becoming a first level squire. All those who successfully pass this exam will be able to remain here and practice for three more years and then participate in a final assessment to become an official knight. Only after you become, like me, an official knight, can you be considered as a genuine member of the Temple. Now let’s begin, Jiang Hu (Jiǎng hǔ)!”
“Yes.” A youngster with a quite big stature walks forward and at the same time he takes out the wooden sword strapped to his back.
All the youngsters have the same equipment: a wooden sword with a length of three foot, a width of three inches and a thickness of two inches. The examination for becoming squire is simple, in front of Balza is something that seems like a big wooden block connected to a stone grove. Within that stone groove is a stone bead. Hitting the block of wood would make the stone bead vibrate and judging from the height in which the stone bead rebounds, the spiritual energy is determined. This can be considered an outdated method to evaluate the spiritual energy but it is very precise when evaluating spiritual energies below 100.
Spiritual energy, in Sheng Mou Da Lu is the main factor used in evaluating everyone’s ‘rank’ in their occupation, whether they are knights, magician, or any other profession, the level of the spiritual energy is used as the main factor for assessing their strength. The 10th level is generally the average spiritual energy level for normal adult males.
“Aahh——” Jiang Hu shouts loudly and with both hands grasping the wooden sword, he swings it fiercely onto the block of stone.
“*Bang*” The stone bean moves up and down.
Balza nods, satisfied, and takes from his hand the name register as he tells: “Jiang Hu, spiritual energy 13th level, you pass. Next one, ……..”
This examination is quickly carried on and in an instant, half of the people had already finished, the ones who succeeded being about half of them.
“Long Hao Cheng (Lóng hào chén) (literally meaning the Dragon of the bright morning).” As he calls this name, Balza subconsciously raises his head, before him is a thin young body’s figure.
This young boy looks a little malnourished compared to the other boys: he is quite thin but has a handsome face.
With naturally supple eyebrows, big eyes, long eyelashes, a straight nose, a white skin and thick lips, even though he’s only 8 or 9 years old, he’s beautiful enough to make women jealous of him. Especially because of his black hair in combination with his pair of dark blue eyes. If he were to crossdress, he would become a national-level beauty.
Long Hao Cheng goes in front of Balza but he doesn’t take out his wooden sword like the others. Instead, he places his right hand on his heart and makes a bow, saluting Balza.
Balza’s originally serious look softens slightly. He nods, saying:
Drawing out his sword, Long Hao Cheng takes a deep breath and suddenly swings it with full force and hits the block of stone.
With a puff sound, the stone bean bounces; but it obviously doesn’t jump ten graduations.
Balza immediately frowns, “Spiritual energy level of nine, you don’t pass.”
From the speed of the slash from Long Hao Chen’s sword that he saw, he could see that Long Hao Cheng had really used all his power and gone all out, but, he still couldn’t pass the examination to become squire.
Long Hao Chen’s pretty face becomes flushed and looking at Balza, he says pleadingly: “Instructor, I, I…”
Balza slightly sighs and says: “Go down.”
Long Hao Chen eagerly repeats: “Instructor, give me another chance. I will definitely pass.”
Balza scowles, saying: “But, that would be unfair to others who didn’t pass.”
Long Hao Chen suddenly becomes silent but the determination in his eyes persists. Balza notices the expression in his eyes and at the same moment, he can’t help but stare blankly at Long Hao Cheng. What is that? Perseverance? The Perseverance described in the Ten Rules of the Knight? The Ten Rules of the Knight are the ten essences of the knights. Even for some Genuine Knights, they haven’t been able to display one of the ten essences, but this kid before his eyes….
While Balza was lost in thought, Long Hao Chen turns to face the other examinees and using a very sincere tone towards the ones who trained alongside with him for the past year: “I beg of you, give me another chance.” As he pleaded, he unexpectedly kneels down.
Balza was flabbergasted. The youths were also flabbergasted. To these kids that were eight to nine years old, it was fundamentally impossible to understand why Long Hao Chen was so persistent.
Balza’s eyes widened, if it was another kid, he would have believed that the kid was greedy or cowardly, but it couldn’t be the case for Long Hao. Because, even though Long Hao may seem thin and weak, during this past year’s training, amongst all of the kids, he was the most assiduous one. Not only did he perfectly accomplish the mandatory training everyday, he also came an hour earlier and left an hour later.
Balza is tied as a 10th rank Knight Squire but he had already been an instructor for ten years and Long Hao Chen is the most diligent student he had ever seen. This boy never needed to be supervised and not only trained hard every day, but also was good to everyone and helped his fellow trainees whenever they asked him for help.
This is also why when arriving at Long Hao Chen’s turn, Balza’s look became gentle. But the fact that Long Hao Chen didn’t pass the exam took him aback. If such a diligent child didn’t pass the examination, the only explanation would be that he was talentless.
(TL Note: Sheng Mou Da Lu : The name of the mainland (recurrent thing to call something Da Lu the name of the place where the story takes place in Chinese novels), it literally means Magical Continent.