When Lin Shu arrived at the front door of the academy, Jing Rong and his group also drew up and stopped in front of the academy. Ji Yunshu hopped off the carriage and started to study the Mingshan Academy with immense interest.
A plaque with the words "Mingshan Academy" hung above the main door. It was nothing like the shimmering gold plaques that were owned by wealthy families. This one was carved meticulously with a sculptor, by hand. Next, it was soaked in ink until it had an even coating. Lastly, the entire plaque, including the edges, was polished to a fine sheen. Instead of extravagant, it appeared elegant.
Mingshan Academy was located in the midst of mountains, surrounded by greenery. Right outside of the academy was an endless bamboo forest. The bamboo leaves rustling as the wind swirled by. As the rain had just stopped a moment ago, the scent of the soil intertwined with the fragrance of the bamboo made a really soothing smell. There were even birds chirping amongst the bamboo forests. There was no doubt why it was named as the Mingshan Academy![1. The name of the academy also translates to "Ming" Birdsong "shan" Mountain.] It was very fortunate if one was able to stay at such a beautiful and serene environment for a long period of time.
Jing Rong raised the corner of his lips when he saw Lin Shu and his peers standing at the door of the academy. "I reckon that Teacher Yu has been informed about our arrival?"
With his chin up, Lin Shu said, "I've notified Teacher upon your arrival. He sent a message for you to leave here as soon as possible. Our academy has never been known for our hospitality towards outsiders." It was absolutely unwelcoming!
"Teacher Yu has a peculiar way of welcoming his guests."
"These are the rules of the academy. It's been carved on the wall of regulations ever since the academy's opening day. Who are you to break the rules? It's better for you to leave now," he said as he waved his hand, gesturing Jing Rong to leave.
Lang Po straightened his face upon hearing Lin Shu's words. 'This brat must be tired of living. I don't even speak to our Prince in this manner. How can you be so rude and arrogant to our Prince?' Lang Po thought to himself.
Before Lang Po was able to get near Lin Shu, he was stopped by Jing Rong. Jing Rong threw him a side glimpse with furrowed brows as he sternly ordered, "Go back to your place."
Under the awkward atmosphere, Lang Po could only glare furiously at Lin Shu and shake his fist impotently in the air as he backed down.
Since the beginning of the conversation, Jing Rong, who was known for his quick temper, had been acting surprisingly polite. It was as though he had reincarnated into a completely different person. Before long, Jing Rong flashed a smile, "Little Brother, I will have to trouble you to send my message to Teacher Yu. There are only four words."
"What are the words?"
"Morning tides and setting sun."
Huh? What on earth is that?
Lin Shu was full of hostility and resentment towards Jing Rong and company. He stubbornly insisted, "I've said it before. Mingshan Academy doesn't welcome any guests. Do you not understand what I said? Or are you trying to look for trouble?"
At this moment, Shang Zhuo returned after changing his clothes in time to overhear the phrase 'morning tides and setting sun', that Jing Rong intended to send to Teacher Yu. Shang Zhuo, who had always been a good mediator, went forward and said, "Everyone, the rule is true. Outsiders have been forbidden from entering Mingshan Academy since the beginning, not to mention staying overnight. Although the sun has set and it's not right to let you spend your night in the wild, but we all have to adhere to the rules."
"This one is not trying to put you in a difficult position. If Teacher Yu insists to forbid us entry to the academy after you send the words 'morning tides and setting sun' to him, then I won't insist."
After consideration, Shang Zhuo said, "Fine, I'll send the words to Teacher."
Lin Shu quickly pulled Shang Zhuo aside "Why are you messing with the situation?" Lin Shu asked, annoyed.
Shang Zhuo replied, "Nonetheless, they are guests. Lin Shu, don't dwell on the incident at the pavilion."
"You…" Lin Shu gave out a snort. Then, he blocked the main door with his peers, stopping anyone from entering the academy.
They were held in a stalemate.
Mo Ruo asked Jing Rong, "When did your temper change so drastically? Why were you being so polite?"
Jing Rong grinned, "Many of Teacher Yu's students, take after him in temperament. However, I favour people like them. The royal court of Great Lin lack people like this. Moreover, the champion of official exams this year… might be a scholar of Mingshan Academy," he said purposefully. His intention was apparent.
"Indeed. You're preparing for the times to come," Mo Ruo accurately spoke Jing Rong's mind.
"It can't be considered preparation. Nonetheless, it's always better to gain a friend than an enemy in the royal court."
"Fine. You're smart." With a thumbs-up, Mo Ruo approved Jing Rong's intelligent plan. Yet, he mocked Jing Rong who was trying to lure his prey by acting kind and innocent.
Tang Si, who was far away, saw the two of them who were mumbling to each other. Curious, she gently nudged Ji Yunshu who was standing beside her, "What do you think they're talking about?" She pointed towards the guys' direction with her chin.
Ji Yunshu glanced over before she shook her head.
Failing to get an answer, Tang Si was bored. Again, she asked, "I've another question to ask. What happened at the pavilion when I was sleeping inside the carriage?"
"Something good happened."
"What was it?" Her eyes beamed.
"It was the greatest thing ever!'
However, Ji Yunshu ignored the question. Irritated, Tang Si stomped her feet and turned around grumpily.
In the meantime, Shang Zhuo was sending the words to Teacher Yu. Upon hearing the words, Teacher Yu's small eyes and mouth widened in synchrony. After a long while, he stood up with both his hands taking support from the armchair. He left the room at a quick pace and staggered towards the main gate of the academy.
This was the first time the scholar had ever seen Teacher Yu in such a hurry. Despite the greetings from the scholars, Teacher Yu did not pause to respond. Intrigued by the possibility of something big happening, the scholars trailed Teacher Yu's steps and headed towards the main gate.
The Mingshan Academy occupied an enormous amount of land. Teacher Yu took almost the same time as half a joss stick to burn, to walk from the courtyard to the main gate. He was panting throughout his journey, as though he had almost lost his breath.
When he arrived at the main door, he saw the group who were standing outside the academy. Naturally, his gaze landed on Jing Rong, whose face bore some resemblance to the late emperor!
Dragging his robe, he promptly walked forward to greet Jing Rong with a bow. Jing Rong took a step forward before he quickly lifted Teacher Yu's elbows.
"Teacher Yu, we're not in the royal court. There's no need for manners."
Teacher Yu nodded, "Yes," as he replied politely.
All the scholars were stupefied. In their minds, Teacher Yu was a strict man who reprimanded his students with a ruler in his hand with no compromise for the slightest issue. It was extremely rare to see a smile on his face, not to mention to see him being so respectful.
What happened? Did the sun rise from the west?
Immediately, Teacher Yu invited Jing Rong and his people into the academy. Besides, he admonished Lin Shu, who was standing by the main door, "How can you be rude to our guests? Where did you learn the manner to forbid the guests from entering? As a punishment, you shall copy the 'Poetic Essays' ten times. You'll get ten strokes of the cane for every word you miss."
He raised his hand and knocked hard on Lin Shu's head before he left the scene. Lin Shu was dumbfounded!