High school life turned out to be a lot easier than Shen Shao imagined.
The students in his class weren’t buried in books all day either.
His classmates not only got good grades, they had a surprising array of talents.
Ballet, piano, pipa, guqin, painting, etc.
were so common they didn’t raise an eyebrow.
The most astonishing thing for Shen Shao was finding out that a petite, pretty girl in his class was the national women’s martial arts youth champion last year.

As the saying goes, you can’t judge a book by its cover, and that went double for the students in his class.

Soon after classes began, the school began planning its Mid-Autumn Festival Cultural Show.
Since their class had a lot of talented students, they weren’t worried about having nothing to perform.
What worried them was putting together a good enough sketch to make it through the preliminary selection.
If they didn’t pass, they wouldn’t be able to shine in the Mid-Autumn Festival performance.

The cultural show was only scheduled to last two hours, but the senior high school had almost fifty classes across all three grades.
In addition, the school had invited a few performers to liven up the atmosphere.
That meant only a few classes would be able to perform on stage.

The students of Class 15 held a class meeting and brainstormed for a long time.
In the end, they decided that the students who were good at musical instruments would play accompaniment for a girl who’d studied professional singing.
They, in turn, would be joined by several boys and girls who could dance, culminating in a final sword dance.

The initial concept was good, but the students spent a lot of hours deciding how to integrate all the elements.
Shen Shao noticed that several of the girls researched dances and costumes from previous dynasties and even found references for the choreography.
They had such a serious attitude about doing everything to perfection that Shen Shao felt inferior by comparison! Since he didn’t have much artistic ability, he went along with the group and avoided sharing non-constructive opinions.

Although Shen Shao could play the piano, other students in class were far more talented, which meant there was no need for him to play.
In the end, he was assigned the role of a young scholar wielding a calligraphy brush and splashing ink next to Lu XiaoYu as she performed the sword dance.

Lu XiaoYu was the girl with the hidden martial arts skill.
Shen Shao’s role was intended to contrast the heroic style of a woman’s sword dance with the gentleness of men.
The choreography was meticulously designed and tested everyone’s skill.

After several rehearsals, Class 15’s piece successfully made it into the final performance. 

Liu Shuang, a member of the Cultural Committee, was dressed in a Tang Dynasty costume with a flying immortal’s topknot wig.
After looking around at all the students in ancient costumes in front of her, she slapped her hand on the table with imposing momentum.
“This performance is the first time Class 15 will appear in front of the whole school.
We have to uphold our reputation.” With that, she looked at Zhou ZeYu, who was standing in the corner, lost in thought.
“Zhou ZeYu, when it’s time, you need to beat the drum as loud as you can, otherwise there won’t be a sense of spectacle when Lu XiaoYu comes out.
Got it?!”

“OK!” Zhou ZeYu automatically straightened his back.
Shen Shao was standing next to him in a jade crown and a wig.
Zhou ZeYu wiped his forehead and said quietly, “How come all the girls in our class are so tough? They don’t even give us boys a chance!”

Shen Shao straightened his wide sleeves and said lightly, “Haven’t you heard the saying?”

Zhou ZeYu was puzzled.
“What saying?” 

“Women hold up half the sky.
Without them, watch out or half the sky will crumble and will crush you to death.”

“Man, do you even care about your brothers at all?”

“When it comes to sisters, all brothers are useless.”

Zhou ZeYu: “…” What happened to that shy, mild-mannered middle school student who scored first place? His brother didn’t used to be so shameless.

“Da Yu, I think Shen Shao is right.
The more powerful the girls in our class are, the better it is for us, obviously,” Liang Cheng came up and said with a serious face.
He was dressed in a book boy’s costume.
“Liu Shuang’s choreography is so good it’s like a professional’s.”

Zhou ZeYu: …

Furong No.
3 High School, a famous school in the province, had always attached importance to developing well-rounded students.
The stage for the cultural show was beautifully designed.
The lighting and sound were handled by hired professionals, and the show was jointly hosted by a TV station and students of the school.
In addition to teachers and students, the audience included leaders of local government departments and media reporters.
The school was forced to take it seriously.

After a crosstalk sketch, the two hosts stepped onto the stage amid the laughter of the audience.
They read a speech, then raised their voices and said, “Please enjoy the program 《Golden Age》 by Class 15 of senior year one.”

Zhang, this is your class, right,” a teacher sitting next to Zhang JiaHe whispered.
“Only two first-year classes made it into the show.
The students in your class are really talented.”

“Oh, no, it’s just kids fooling around.” Zhang JiaHe smiled.
When a flute began to play a melody on stage, he focused seriously on the performance.
Although his face was calm, he was very proud.
After all, the students in his class were striving for glory, and as their class teacher some of the light reflected on him.

The music, a combination of flute, guqin, piano, pipa, and other musical instruments, didn’t sound discordant or out of place to the audience, but combined to create a sumptuous, magical sound.
When several girls in ancient costumes began to perform a dance from the Tang Dynasty, the crowd gave them thunderous applause.

Then the lights dimmed and all the musical instruments stopped.
Just when the audience was becoming confused, the sound of drumming sprang up.
It seemed to be beating on people’s hearts, lifting their spirits as it grew louder.

Fog gradually appeared on the stage, and a woman in a white robe emerged, dancing with a sword in the mist.
The sound of the pipa and guqin returned, but now the music was slightly solemn.

Then the clear notes of a flute joined in, and a light suddenly appeared in a dark corner.
A young man in ancient clothes was standing in front of a desk, holding a brush dipped in ink.

“Wandering knight in a plain tasseled crown, scimitar bright as snow on his waist.
A silver saddle shines on his white horse, galloping like a meteor in the sky.
In ten steps he kills one man, roaming freely for a thousand miles.
When his deeds are done, he brushes his clothes, goes away, and hides his name.” As he recited 《Ode to Chivalry》, he splashed ink on the white paper, as if he was a talent in the prosperous Tang Dynasty and the people in the audience were spectators in another time and place.

The young girl dancing with a sword, the young man dancing with ink, wonderful music and celestial singing.
The entire performance embodied the heroic spirit of women, the literary talent of men, and the prosperity of the famous Tang Dynasty.

“Principal Zhao, the students of your school are really crouching tigers, hidden dragons.
Excellent at both martial and literary arts.” A leading figure in the literary circle was sitting next to the principal of the No.
3 High School.
After the performance, he spoke with emotion.
“This performance was very, very good.”

“You’re too kind.
I think they’re still a bit immature.” The principal smiled with a red face.
He noticed that the media reporters were continuing to take pictures of the stage.
“It’s just that you’re so tolerant of young people that you think they performed well.”

“No, no, these kids are great.” The literary figure shook his head.
“The teaching philosophy of your school is clearly excellent.
The young people produced by this kind of education are exactly what our society needs.
That’s why it’s so commendable.”

This exaggerated praise carried a lot of weight, and the reporter sitting next to the scholar hurriedly wrote down his words.
No matter what, tomorrow’s article already had a topic.

Zhang JiaHe, who was seated in the back row, also felt elated.
He had a feeling that his class’s performance was going to receive outside attention, positive attention at that, and it was absolutely a great thing for him as their teacher.

The teachers sitting next to Zhang JiaHe glanced at him with envy several times.
They were all class teachers of senior year one.
Why did he get such a talented group of students? When the classes were divided at the beginning of the year, they were randomly assigned by the computer.
Zhang JiaHe was a little too lucky.
How did he manage to hoard all the students with good grades as well as rare talent?

After Class 15 finished their piece and went backstage, their faces were full of excitement and nerves.
Then they all exchanged glances—you look at me, I look at you—and everyone laughed at the same time.

Zhou ZeYu shook his fingers and said to Shen Shao, “I’m so nervous my hands are sweating.
Man, it’s amazing you were able to recite that poem with so much emphasis and write so calmly while all those people were watching you.
It was really impressive.”

Before Shen Shao could answer, Liu Shuang next to him said, “That’s right, Shen Shao.
Your performance was really good.” Even though Lu XiaoYu was doing a sword dance beside him, Shen Shao wasn’t robbed of the limelight at all, and that came down to charm and force of personality.
“By the way, what happened to the calligraphy you wrote on stage?”

“Someone walked off with it.” Shen Shao removed his headwear and said carelessly, “Anyway, it’s nothing special.
If someone took it, it’s fine.”

When Liu Shuang heard this she didn’t say anything.
When she looked around she didn’t see the paper Shen Shao wrote the poem on.
She felt disappointed but had to give up.

After the cultural show that night, the students of Class 15 had no idea their performance would be shown on the provincial TV station the next day.
But during the provincial news at noon, the anchors gave their piece high praise and discussed the importance of quality education.

As students of one of No.
3 High School’s experimental classes, their performance was held up as an example, showing people that not all students with excellent grades were nerds buried in a pile of books every day.
Getting good grades didn’t mean you couldn’t have talents or hobbies.

In fact, their class’s performance became a fuse which inspired a discussion about exam-oriented vs.
all-around education among people from many different walks of life.
Newspapers and magazines published articles one after another, which led to a lively debate.

Education is the foundation of a country, and in recent years, many well-known professors had criticized domestic education and praised foreign education.
Therefore, when Class 15’s performance made the news, some people used them as an example to refute those well-known professors.
Some public figures became so angry they argued that the teenagers’ performance was only artistic on the surface but in reality had no soul, unlike foreign students who were lively and creative.

“Some people look at a wonderful performance by our domestic students and call it soulless, but if the performance was substandard they’d use it as proof that society doesn’t care about teaching students art.
Why are we attacked no matter what happens?!” After reading the article, Zhang JiaHe was so angry he slapped the newspaper on the table.
“These professors are well-known public figures.
But they’re clearly white-eyed wolves who drink milk then scold their own mothers.
They’ve forgotten their ancestors!”

“They really are white-eyed wolves.” A teacher next to him added, “I really don’t know what these people are thinking.
If you care about education, do something practical.
Why argue about it in magazines and newspapers every day?”

“They keep saying all these other countries are better, as if being Chinese is an insult to them,” a different female teacher continued.
“If you ask me, people who pick up garbage on the street are more worthy than they are.
At least they’re helping to recycle waste, while those people only make waste.”


TL Notes:

I totally thought this chapter would be easy but nope, four lines of ancient poetry took h o u r s… Orz

And I just realized this is the 2nd MC I’ve had who dressed up as a Tang dynasty poet during a high school performance! Hmm, who did it better, Shen Shao or Zong Yan? Although I definitely give YanYan points for effort, I’m going to give the win to Xiao Shao.
His performance wasn’t attended by Lovecraftian horrors, and that usually works out better for the audience.


various stuff about planning the school performance – I took a few more liberties than usual to make this section sound less awkward.
I try to tl as close as possible to the raw, but when things sound weird I make small changes to sentence structure etc.

pipa – 琵琶 – A plucked string instrument with a fretted fingerboard; 4-stringed Chinese lute

guqin – 古琴 – A long zither with seven strings, plucked with the fingers, played since ancient times and traditionally favored by scholars and literati as an instrument of subtlety and refinement (Wikipedia)

(all brothers are) useless – 纸老虎 – paper tiger

can’t judge a book by its cover – 人不可貌相 – Men cannot be judged by their looks; Don’t judge a man by his looks; You cannot judge a tree by its bark

book boy – 书童 – In ancient times, this was an underage servant who served a master or child and helped them study (Baidu)

crosstalk – 相声 – A specific type of comic dialogue or comedy routine usually performed by a pair of comedians

Ode to Chivalry – 侠客行 – A poem by Tang dynasty poet Li Bai which begins: “赵客缦胡缨”.
This is a layperson’s tl that omits a lot of specific terms, please don’t look at it too carefully (✿´• ᴗ •̥`);;

Li Bai – 李白 – A Chinese poet born c.
701, acclaimed as a genius and romantic figure.
Thirty-four of his poems are included in the classic anthology Three Hundred Tang Poems (Wikipedia) The idea of “white moonlight” as an object of longing comes from his poem “Quiet Night Thought” (静夜思)

crouching tigers, hidden dragons – 卧虎藏龙 – lit.
hidden dragon, crouching tiger (idiom) / fig.
talented individuals in hiding / concealed talent

white-eyed wolves – 白眼狼 – white-eyed wolf, thankless wretch / an ingrate

forget their ancestors – 数典忘祖 – give all the historical facts except those about one’s own ancestors; be ignorant of the history of one’s own country; be ungrateful; count the records but forget the ancestors


Transliterated names, places, and titles—new in this chapter:

Lu XiaoYu – 陆笑语

Liu Shuang – 刘双

brother – 兄弟 – xiōngdì – brothers / younger brother / Commonly used for friends or buddies

Da Yu – 大宇 – “Big” Yu – A nickname

Da – 大 – big / large / oldest etc., commonly used in nicknames

Zhang – 张老师 – Zhāng lǎoshī – Alternatively: Teacher Zhang

Principal Zhao – 赵校长 – Alternatively: Headmaster Zhao

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