Rody was an honest man without much ambition. He preferred a lazy and carefree life. His only wish was to pass the school's swordplay examination next month so that he could become a low-levelled swordsman. It was also his late accursed father's last wish.
Of course, if the heavens had bestowed upon him a pretty face when he was 18 years old so that he could get rid of his virginity, it would be even better!
It was unfortunate but Rody knew that his wish was difficult to achieve. The fact was that, although he was very confident in his swordplay, his biggest problem was not actually passing the examination but instead paying the tuition fees for the student courses. He would not be able to pay it unless he was able to get top three in the swordplay examination and eradicated all of his opponents. At that time, he would be given enough award money to pay for his tuition and have some leftovers.
However, Rody was just a normal person. He knew that the people scoring top 3 in the examinations were either the sons of counts or the sons of generals. Assholes. Those rich people did not need money. Why would they want to compete with the poor families for bonuses? Unfortunately, for the rich, they only wanted the title of top 3 to show off to the others.
As for the women problem, Rody did not even dare to wish for it anymore. Actually, he had pretty good looks. He looked like a normal person that was neither too tall nor too short. It was too bad that the heavens seemed to want to punish him and left a black mark on his face. A large birthmark the size of his palm covered his left cheek. His handsome face that should have attracted millions of girls turned literally into a Yin Yang1 face.
As a result, Rody gave up hope. It was clear to him that unless the woman was blind or had mental issues, they would never have an interest in him.
Rody sat on the bed in the room and looked at the only thing of value on the walls. It was a standard sword for warriors of the Empire. Rody bought this sword for 3 silvers. That being said, he was not qualified to use the sword at this moment because his swordplay examination would only be held next month. Unless he passed the examination and acquired the title of Swordsman, he would not be eligible to carry weapons. In the empire, ordinary citizens were not allowed to carry weapons. Fortunately, he was also a student in the Imperial Academy and had a student card. This allowed him to carry weapons within the school.
Rody wiped the sword clean with his clean scarf. He recalled the lessons and skills taught by the instructors in the morning by his teacher, Shale.
In fact, the teacher knew that his young students were going to take part in the annual examination next month, which was why he had been giving them special training for the past few days. Rody was one of Shale's more promising students. Shale once told Rody privately that Rody's strength had already surpassed the standard level of a Grade 1 swordsman and he would have no problem passing the examination. According to Shale, throughout his many years of teaching, Rody was the most outstanding student he had ever taught and that he was a genius. Even though everybody knew that Rody's skills were not bad, nobody took Shale's words seriously, especially that part about Rody being a genius. After all, in all these years, the old man had never ever successfully trained a student beyond Grade 3.
How could such an incompetent teacher produce geniuses? Rody's only worry for the examination was to avoid meeting Instructor Yanshi, the person who had always found fault with Shale. The people in the academy all knew about the not-so-harmonious relationship between Shale and Yanshi. The origins of their enmity stemmed from their competition for a female teacher’s admiration many years ago. These two teachers would always find fault with each other. It also just so happened that Shale’s student who would be taking the examination was Rody and that Yanshi was his examiner.
Rody felt very depressed.
Wearing his sword, Rody turned to his closet for a while before pulling out a fairly clean and beautiful uniform. He decided to go for a walk outside, but then hesitated and decided to stroll around outside the academy instead. Perhaps he would buy some bread for tomorrow's meal. He did not want to go to the streets with his sword, as public security might arrest him.
Rody stepped out of his room and walked into a corridor with a moldy smell. Even though he was tortured with this smell for 2 years, he was still unable to adapt to it.
After all, he was staying in the cheap dormitory of the academy. The rooms were extremely cheap at 5 silver coins per year. However, the living condition of the place was appalling.
There were a series of reforms made by the Great Sage Dandong of the Empire. He had greatly increased the power of the Empire and in later years, persuaded the Emperor to allow civilians to enroll into the Imperial Academy. He also became the headmaster of the academy. Although he faced strong protests from the other nobles, he even developed a piece of land just to accommodate the civilians. Rody was living in that building that was built by Dandong, specifically for civilians.
Speaking from conscience, this building was actually very good and could accommodate 200 civilians, each with their own room, even if the rooms were as small as a pigeon cage. However, after Dandong's death, nobles have always held the academy's headmaster post. The nobles, as a special show of grace, had not expelled the civilians but it was actually out of respect for the late 5th generation Emperor’s decree. However, the nobles also had not spent a single coin to maintain the building in the past 200 years!
Rody carefully walked down the stairs. Only the heavens knew whether the 200-year-old stairs could support his weight. He did not want to be the first swordsman in the history of the Empire who perished by falling down the stairs. Even though the stairs gave off a scary creaking sound as Rody walked down, nothing of note happened as Rody reached the bottom of the stairs. He opened the front door and left the multi-storied building.
The evening weather was good and the moon was already visible. He followed the path to another civilian building and shouted, “Star!”
Not long later, a window from the second floor opened revealing a person with long hair.
“Rody you fool! Quiet down a bit!” Star looked around in a panic before further opening the window and jumping out. Rody frowned. “Are you climbing out of windows again? Are you not afraid of being seen? Even if it is nighttime, you must still be careful.”
If Rody was considered a poor civilian, Star would be poverty stricken. He could not afford the rent of 5 silver coins and was recently evicted. Thankfully, he had already paid the tuition fees for the year. Otherwise, even his status as a student might not hold on.
However, Star was not someone who would simply abide by the law. The school’s security had watched him move out but he had stealthily moved back in. Anyway, the number of civilian students in the Imperial Academy was very little in recent years. That was why, even when Star had vacated his room, nobody would be there to move in. Also, because of the terrible stench coming from the ancient building, the security team did not bother to check as well. So, Star was brazenly freeloading the place.
Star patted Rody’s shoulder. He was at least a head shorter than Rody. However, he had a face that made Rody envious. It was a face that allowed Star to court girls. According to Star, he had already bid farewell to his virginity 3 years ago.
Rody was not envious of Star for most things but this one incident made Rody’s eyes turn red.
Facing his best friend, Rody sighed. “So, where are we going?”
Star turned to him and whispered in a mysterious tone, “Rody, do you want to make some money? I happen to have found a way!”
Rody’s eyes lit up. The thing he needed now was money! Without money, even if he passed the swordplay examination, he would not have enough to pay for next year’s tuition fee.
“Make money? What idea do you have?” Rody stared at his good friend.
Star laughed and whispered, “This method is a little bit risky but I have tried it and frankly speaking, I have also settled next year’s tuition fee. Originally, I was worried as this method is not suitable for you, but recently, seeing you get anxious over money makes me think that you would dare to try it anyway.”
Rody was immediately cautious. He knew that his friend was not a law-abiding person and, listening to his friend’s tone, it was quite certain that this method would not be an honorable one.
“Don’t look at me like that, Rody!” Star pushed Rody and took him to a remote path with no else around. He looked around to confirm that there was really no one before whispering. “I recently met a few people doing some kind of special business. Now they temporarily need a few extra hands. After completing the job, we can take the money and leave. Naturally, it is a little bit risky. I only did the job once but I earned enough to pay next year’s tuition fee.”
“Is… Is it illegal?” Rody said the word ‘illegal’ with some difficulty.
Star rolled his eyes which seemingly replied, “Nonsense!”
“All right,” Rody sighed. “Take me there!”
Rody slowly nodded his head. He did not expect that this nod would be the start of his endless, eventful legend.
He also did not expect that this nod would change his two wishes, be it about money or women, tremendously.
1 Dark-bright. In this case, it means his face is half-dark, half-white.