Chapter 36: Great Move (Part One)
River-West Circuit wasn’t a rich place; its economy was far inferior compared to Yangtze-Huai Circuit and River-South Circuit. However, River-West Circuit had Long-West State. Several big families in Long-West State could be ranked within the top 15 families of Great Sui. The most famous among them was the Li Family in Xiang City.
Among the families in Long-West State, the Li Family was the most unique. In terms of history, this family that rose into power less than 100 years ago couldn’t be compared to others such as the Liu Family, the Yu Family, and even the Cui Family. These families were famous before Great Sui was established, and the Li Family only became a first-tier family after its previous family leader, Li Luan, rose into power.
Without a doubt, due to the trust that the Emperor had toward Long-West Li Family, this family that was relatively young compared to others became one of the strongest families.
There were 140 cities in River-West Circuit, and each city could recommend one young person to participate in the entrance exam of the Martial Arts Academy that occurred every three years.
In the last two turns, Xiang City recommended candidates from the Li Family. Six years ago, Li Xiaozong was recommended; three years ago, Li Fubo was recommended. It was heard that the latter was even more talented compared to Li Xiaozong; he was always within the top three in every test of the academy in the last three years.
This record was enough for the Li Family to be proud.
After graduation, the top three students would be taken by the Ministry of War. In the worst-case scenario, they would be given rank 5 positions.
Although the Martial Arts Academy’s slogan was that talented people could participate in its entrance exams regardless of their backgrounds, it was only a slogan; those people who had poor backgrounds wouldn’t have the chance to become candidates.
Great Sui had 24 circuits and thousands of cities, and the Martial Arts Academy only accepted 300 people per turn. The enrollment rate was only about 15 percent; how could people with poor backgrounds get in?
How could it be fair when each city could only nominate one person?
The so-called fairness only existed in the promotional slogan.
However, it was heard that Principal Zhou of the Martial Arts Academy had argued with the Emperor once in private.[Support the real translators and read on Noodletown Translations for free.]
Principal Zhou said that since one city could only recommend one candidate, then there had to be another rule; there must be 50 percent of the candidates from big families and 50 percent of them with no backgrounds.
The Emperor laughed and asked, “Regardless of what their backgrounds are, don’t you have enough talented students already? All candidates already have great talents, and the Martial Arts Academy will only pick the best among them. If all of them are from big families, will the Martial Arts Academy have less talented students?”
Hearing this, Principal Zhou left in a huff after saying, “Your eyes are covered.”
The Emperor was angered. After sitting by himself for about an hour, he suddenly realized something and changed the rules. From then onward, talented battle soldiers, state soldiers, and border soldiers could also participate in the entrance exam of the Martial Arts Academy. There had to be the same number of these candidates as those recommended by each city, and these soldiers’ ranks couldn’t be higher than a captain.
With this rule in place, those people with no backgrounds could enter the Martial Arts Academy and had the opportunity to stun the world.
Principal Zhou who returned to Green Phoenix Mountain heard the Emperor’s order and laughed, “It is fortunate that he isn’t that foolish.”
In Great Sui, only two people dared to point out the Emperor’s wrongdoings. One was Huai Qiugong, the Head of the Ministry of Rites who served three emperors, and the other was Zhou Banchuan of the Martial Arts Academy.
Huai Qiugong would point out the Emperor’s issues in etiquette and behaviors. He was a royal teacher; he had slapped the Emperor’s hands many times when the latter was little and learning from him.
Zhou Banchuan was different; he dared to smash the Emperor’s teacup.
The Emperor once laughed and said to his officials, “The Martial Arts Academy is an irreplaceable place of talent selection for Great Sui, but the Martial Arts Academy doesn’t belong to me but Zhou Banchuan.”
Fang Jie lived in a good time where the Martial Arts Academy was opened to talented base-level soldiers.