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Possessed by Exam God
That same evening, everyone learned that Shi Jin was going to take the college entrance examination.
Seeing Shi Jin’s pale and haggard face, Gua Two comforted, with the attitude of someone who had personal experience, “Don’t panic, in the end, it’s just a test, is there anything to be afraid of? It only takes two days, it will be over before you even know it.”
Shi Jin looked at him with a blank gaze. “Did you take it?”
“I did,” Gua Two replied. Pointing at Gua Nine, who sat tapping at his laptop, he continued, “Except for Gua Nine, who went to school abroad, all of us who grew up in Annihilation with Jun-shao have passed the college entrance exam and have a domestic university diploma.”
Shi Jin immediately perked up. “You did? You have officially attended high school? Did you spend four years at university, going to classes like ordinary law-abiding citizen?” The answer to the last question was the one that he was the most interested in!
“Of course I have, no one can take the college entrance exam without being listed as a student, can they? Little JinJin, this is yet another common sense thing you might want to know: ‘Gua One,’ Gua Two,’ and so on are just our code names, our identity in the underworld. Everyone, naturally including me, has their own name and identity, and our school memberships and academic qualifications are all linked to our real names. When we leave the underworld, we will go back to our real identities,” Gua Two explained. He put his arm around Shi Jin’s back and patted him on the shoulder. “So you should do your best on the exam, it’s about your future—Jun-shao is making you take it for your own good. And judging from the present situation, after you get into university, it’s quite likely that you’ll just go to school to report in at the beginning, then only go back to take the end-of-term exams. That’s how we did it—we had classes with the teachers in the organizations whenever we had time and didn’t need to go to school every day. It was quite free, no different to what are you doing now. It won’t prevent you from accompanying Jun-shao.”
“But you’d better not fail the end-term exams or Jun-shao will force you to take a month off to take remedial classes with Mr. Feng,” Gua Nine added with a meaningful glance at Gua Two.
Gua Two scowled and raised his fist at him threateningly.
It won’t prevent you from accompanying Jun-shao.
All of Shi Jin’s attention was stuck on that sentence. His resistance to taking the exam disappeared in a flash, and the light of hope rekindled in his eyes. He didn’t need to leave Lian Jun for a whole day every day to go to class, only get admitted in university and pass the end-of-term exams?
Then he didn’t mind taking the college entrance examination.
Lightening up, he casually said to Gua Two, “I didn’t expect that you took it too. What was your score?”
Gua Two smiled at Shi Jin’s improved mood. He replied, “A bit over 600, if I remember right… Eh, I was quite unlucky, that year, the math exam was very difficult. I was too overconfident and didn’t study enough.”
A bit over… 600? Out of 750?
Shi Jin deflated again. He looked at Gua Two in disbelief—it was hard to imagine that Gua Two used to be a top student. Shaking the man’s hand off his shoulder without a word, he turned to Gua Nine.
Gua Nine thought that he wanted to hear about everyone’s exams and learn from their experiences. At Shi Jin’s glance, he said at once, “I didn’t take the college entrance examination in China. There was no compulsory national examination in the country I was studying in, only two kinds of voluntary ones. I took both of them, my scores were…”
“Okay, I get it, I get it,” Shi Jin hurried to interrupt him, remembering Gua Nine’s doctorates. He thought about his own academic achievements (if they could be called achievements), forced himself to calm down, and got up. “Okay, I won’t bother you any longer, I’m going to prepare for the exam.” He walked away without looking back, legs soft.
After that, he made some roundabout inquiries about the other Guas’ college entrance exam results. What he discovered was painful—none of Lian Jun’s top generals were bad students! Even the worst of them, Gua Five, got admitted to his first university of choice!
“They’re all gangsters, so why…” Shi Jin lay paralysed on the sofa. Thinking about the scores he got on the preparatory exams Mr. Feng gave him, he was bitter. “If I knew I would have to take the college entrance exam, I would’ve studied much more seriously…”
<But JinJin, you have studied seriously. It’s obvious that you’re very good, to be able to get these kind of results just by reviewing for a few months,> Xiao Si said.
“No, you don’t understand,” Shi Jin replied with melancholy, hugging his tablet and crying without tears.
Ignorance really was bliss—there were some things better left unknown. Now it turned out that he, an underachiever, had to take the exam with a group of studying tyrants looking on. Perhaps he would have to check his score while they watched, and wait to see to which school he got admitted to… What’s the difference between that and a public shaming?!
It wasn’t not that he couldn’t stand a little shame, but he wasn’t a masochist!
So, in order to avoid the public shaming, Shi Jin began last-minute cramming, working hard and giving it his all.
That night, he reviewed until midnight. If it wasn’t for Lian Jun dragging him to bed, he would have stayed up all night. He still didn’t let go of the tablet the next day, and also asked Xiao Si to help him sift through some relatively easy-to-remember knowledge, spending the entire day memorizing it. After dinner he picked up the tablet again and kept doing questions, looking as if he had no intention of putting down the electronic pen and going to sleep.
In the end, Lian Jun couldn’t stand it anymore. He pulled the tablet out of his hand and shoved him into the bed.
“Rest. It’s just a small exam, don’t worry so much. It doesn’t matter if you don’t do well,” Lian Jun appeased in a calm and gentle voice, regretting telling Shi Jin about the exam in advance.
If he knew Shi Jin would be so nervous, he would’ve just delivered him to the examination venue on the day of the exam to avoid this pre-exam torment.
Shi Jin was too keyed up to sleep, but because of Lian Jun’s wrinkled eyebrows and worried face, he didn’t insist on getting up to study, and obediently closed his eyes instead… then asked Xiao Si to call up the textbooks so he could review in his mind.
Xiao Si: <……>
Shi Jin couldn’t remember when he fell asleep, but remembered that he’d been taking exams even in his dreams, exam after exam, one examination room after another, as if they were never-ending. He woke up with a heavy head and a weak body; he felt so uncomfortable that it was like he’d really filled out countless exam papers.
He frowned and rubbed his forehead. “It’s over. Now I’m in this state, I’ll bomb the exam for sure.”
Xiao Si had great confidence in him. <No, you will definitely do well and get a good score, JinJin. I believe in you!>
Shi Jin’s heart felt warm. “Xiao Si, you’re such a good system.”
<Not really. It’s because you taught me well, JinJin,> Xiao Si replied, bashful.
Talking with Xiao Si made Shi Jin feel a little more energetic. After a brief wash, he went to the dining room with Lian Jun for breakfast, then took the exam bag Lian Jun prepared for him and left the club with him.
As soon as his foot stepped out of the door, a familiar voice sounded from nearby.
Shi Jin stopped, both his eyebrows and his heart jumping. He looked around for the speaker.
Just outside Nightlight’s gate was Shi Weichong. Next to a low-key black business car, wearing a suit and looking like the elite boss he was, he stood there like a wooden stake. The moment he laid eyes on Shi Jin, he stepped forward, saying, “I heard from Yujing that you’d returned to B city and that you were hurt. I happened to be free today so I came to see you. How is your injury?”
“……” Why did you have to come today, rather than a few days earlier or later? I knew it, B city really is a trouble spot!
Shi Jin hid his exam bag behind him, smiled politely, and replied, “My injury is already healed. Thank you for your concern.”
Lian Jun noticed Shi Jin hiding the bag. His finger tapping on the armrest of the wheelchair, he motioned for Gua Two to get the car out. He didn’t interrupt Shi Jin and Shi Weichong’s conversation.
Shi Jin’s polite, alienated attitude left Shi Weichong at a loss. On instinct, he glanced at Lian Jun next to the teenager and frowned as he remembered their current relationship. About to look away, he noticed a corner of a plastic wallet in Shi Jin’s hand. It looked familiar; he recalled seeing many students on the way here, and most of them were holding something similar. Startled, he then thought of all the different kinds of traffic control and college entrance examination slogans hanging everywhere, and a sudden flash of insight crossed his mind. “Are you going out?” he asked.
Tense, Shi Jin gave a vague reply. “Ah? Ah, yes, I have something to do.”
Seeing his expression, Shi Weichong became more sure of his guess. He took out his phone and checked the date, then his gaze fell upon the corner of what he suspected was the exam bag, peeking out from behind Shi Jin. “Are going to take the college entrance examination, Xiao Jin?”
Shi Jin: “……” Fuck, he hated smart people!
The hand holding the exam bag stiffened, and he couldn’t maintain the polite smile on his face. Noticing that Gua Two had brought the car, he hurried to push Lian Jun’s wheelchair, saying, “It’s getting late, I need to leave now, bye.” He didn’t look back at his brother.
Shi Weichong wasn’t going to stop him. Helpless, he watched Shi Jin and Lian Jun get in the car and disappear from sight. After a moment, he remembered the time and hurried back to his car, calling his assistant while starting the ignition to cancel his next business trip.
If you’re seeing this notice, you’re reading this chapter on pirate site – the original translator of Death Progress Bar is Betwixted Translations.
The car got on the main road and headed for the examination hall.
Gua Two glanced in the rearview mirror. “Shi Weichong is following us,” he said. “Should I shake him off?”
Lian Jun looked at Shi Jin beside him, who was holding his tablet, immersed in last-minute cramming, and replied, “No, drive as smoothly as possible. It’s easy to get carsick with sudden changes of speed.”
Gua Two acknowledged, and ignored Shi Weichong from then on.
After getting in the car, Shi Jin completely threw his brother out of his mind and focused on reviewing the ancient poetry which would likely appear on the first part of the exam, Chinese. He mostly used his phone or his computer and rarely wrote by hand, which made it easy to forget the characters. He wanted to refamiliarize himself with them while he still had time.
Ten minutes later, the car stopped near the examination hall. Shi Jin put down his tablet, looked at the deluge of students, teachers, and parents outside, and said to Lian Jun, “Stay in the car, I’ll go by myself. It’s too crowded outside, it’s not safe.”
Lian Jun also knew that with his identity, going to a place with too many people was asking to be killed, so he nodded and squeezed the teenager’s hand. “Let Gua Two go with you. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself, stay calm. I’ll be waiting for you here.”
“I know.” Shi Jin hugged him, exchanged a few words with Gua Five, who was sitting in the passenger seat, and got out of the car with Gua Two.
Shi Weichong, whose car stopped right behind theirs, got out as soon as they did and followed. He came up to Shi Jin’s side as if it was only natural and asked, frowning, “Why are taking the college entrance exam all of a sudden? You used to be going to school abroad—in fact, it would’ve been better to take your exams there.”
Shi Jin really and truly didn’t know what expression to face him with. He gave a perfunctory reply, “I just wanted to take an exam and go to a university and get a diploma, but I’m not pursuing some big ambition. Applying for exams in a foreign country is too much trouble, I don’t want to bother.”
“But you haven’t been to school for nearly a year, and you aren’t familiar with the domestic teaching system. You’re taking the college entrance exam so suddenly—your results might be less than optimal.” The longer Shi Weichong spoke, the deeper his frown got. After a moment of thought, he added, “Xiao Jin, if you really want to go to university, I can get you a guaranteed admission spot. You can just skip the exam.”
Being stinking rich is nice.
Shi Jin was quite touched, but he refused without mercy. “No need, Jun-shao arranged a tutor for me. I want to use my own strength to get into the university I want to attend.” Then just stay at Lian Jun’s side and while the time away.
“Pff.” Not caring about Shi Jin’s dignity at all, Gua Two laughed out loud.
Shi Jin gave him a death glare.
Gua Two raised his hands in surrender, then turned to Shi Weichong. “Please don’t say things like that, Mr. Shi. The examinees are already under heavy pressure; if you continue, Shi Jin’s mentality might collapse. He was reviewing even on the way here—it’s obvious how nervous he is. Please show some understanding for his difficulties.”
This sounded polite, but he actually meant that what Shi Weichong was saying was disagreeable and he wanted the man to shut up.
Shi Weichong glanced at Gua Two, then looked at Shi Jin again. The teenager still had faint dark circles under his eyes; Shi Weichong stifled the urge to persuade him further and said instead, “Don’t be nervous about the exam, it doesn’t matter if your score isn’t high. Attending university isn’t the be-all end-all of life.”
Shi Jin felt helpless—why was everyone telling him that it didn’t matter if he didn’t do well in the exam? It was as if they were sure he would fail.
It had to be said that sometimes the examinees’ mentality would collapse not because of their poor psychological quality, but because the people around them would unintentionally keep suggesting they would do badly, and add to the pressure.
The three walked to the entrance of the examination hall to wait.
Because of his temperament and all he experienced in the past year, Shi Jin looked much more composed than his peers; he stood out among the nervous students clutching their exam bags. In addition, he was not accompanied by his parents, but by two tall adult men, so their group was three times as conspicuous. In short, they stuck out like a sore thumb.
The eyes of the surrounding people gathered on them and followed them as they passed. It was in sync, like visitors to a zoo watching monkeys walk around.
Shi Jin: “……” I really want to ditch Gua Two and Shi Weichong somewhere.
Because of his profession, Gua Two didn’t like that they became the focus of the crowd. He didn’t realize the heart of the problem, though—he was convinced that they attracted so much attention because Shi Weichong was following them like a curse.
“Huh, I think that all the other examinees have a bottle of water. Could you perhaps get one for Shi Jin?” Gua Two asked, subtly trying to drive him away.
Frowning, Shi Weichong looked at Shi Jin, looked at what other examinees and their parents had in their hands, and actually left to buy water.
Shi Jin turned to look at Gua Two.
Gua Two explained with a straight face, “Shi Weichong is actually considered a celebrity, he often appears on the first page of finance and economics magazines. Him standing next to you puts you in danger of being photographed, so it’s best to get rid of him as soon as possible.”
“I totally believe you,” Shi Jin said, expressionless.
A warm smile appeared on Gua Two’s face. “Thank you for your trust.”
While they talked, Shi Weichong returned with the water. He carefully tore off the plastic packaging and the label and handed the bottle to Shi Jin, saying, “I saw that everyone else was doing this. Here. I didn’t buy you a soft drink, pure water quenches thirst the best.”
“Thank you.” Shi Jin took the water, glancing at the torn-off plastic crumpled in his brother’s hand. He wanted to sigh.
Why did Shi Weichong bother doing all this? He didn’t need to.
As if reading his mind, all of a sudden Shi Weichong said, “Don’t worry about it—I’m simply doing what I want to do. What you should be thinking about is doing your best on the exam, don’t mind other things.”
Shi Jin didn’t answer, responding to his goodwill with silence.
The entrance opened exactly on time. Shi Jin bid farewell to Gua Two and Shi Weichong, took the exam bag and water, and entered the exam hall. After finding the right classroom and seat according to the information on the admission ticket, he sat down, put his things on the desk, and forced himself to focus on the exam and ignore anything that was irrelevant.
When the time came, the exam proctor began to hand out the papers.
Xiao Si took the opportunity to give Shi Jin a bunch of random buffs, like ‘Feeling Refreshed,’ ‘Twice The Result With Half The Effort,’ ‘Possessed by Exam God,’ ‘Studying Tyrant,’ and so on. It wanted to help Shi Jin as much as it was in its power to do so.
Shi Jin didn’t notice anything. After getting the exam paper, he began by filling out the examinee information as was the usual practice. Somehow, he felt it was very easy to write today and he finished filling out the information before he knew it. Then, his eyes moved to the questions and, without a hitch, he continued on to answer them.
Time always seemed to pass in a flash when you were completely focused on doing something.
By the time Shi Jin finished answering the last fill-in-the-blank question and emerged from his trance-like state, there was not much time left. He went over his answers for the last time and confirmed that he filled in the examinee information correctly. As soon as he put his pen down, the bell announcing the end of the exam rang.
Everything went so smoothly, as if it was following some kind of script.
Shi Jin walked out of the classroom with the other examinees. Recalling the way he took the exam, he found that he seemed to be in extraordinarily good condition—answering the questions felt easier than usual, and he had been very focused, not paying attention to anything except the exam paper.
It wasn’t right—when he got up this morning, his brain was in chaos and his body felt uncomfortable all over; it was bad enough that he had been almost certain he would fail today’s exams.
Realizing what happened, he poked Xiao Si. “Did you help?”
Caught, Xiao Si’s reply was timid. <Just a little—I just gave you a small mind-refreshing buff… Um, was it useful? If you don’t like it, I won’t do it again.>
Warmth filling his chest, a smile spread over Shi Jin’s face. “It was very useful. Thank you.”
So Xiao Si’s voice grew louder again, and it said with happiness, <I knew you would do well! You will definitely get a high score, you’re the best, JinJin!>
Shi Jin’s mood got better because of his system’s considerate actions. The college entrance exam wasn’t as difficult as he feared after all; he stretched a little and said, “All right, let’s find Lian Jun and have lunch.”
After leaving the examination hall, Shi Jin found that Shi Weichong was still here. However, he wasn’t standing next to Gua Two, but waiting alone in a conspicuous place next to the entrance.
Shi Jin was pretty sure that his brother had been driven away by Gua Two.
Helpless, he watched Shi Weichong come up to meet him and asked before the man could open his mouth, “Did you wait here?”
“No, I returned to the car. Where do you want to eat? I’ll take you to lunch,” Shi Weichong said. Just like an ordinary caring older brother, he carefully avoided asking about the exam and was only concerned about the examinee having something to eat.
Shi Jin couldn’t keep up his polite expression anymore. He asked, “Shi Weichong, in the end, what is it that you want to do?”
Shi Jin addressed him directly by his name, apparently unwilling to call him “brother.” Shi Weichong kept silent for a moment, then said, “I just want you to know I care.”
“But now, your concern is a burden to me,” Shi Jin replied. He had no choice but to set things straight. “Shi Weichong, let me tell you the truth: every time you contact me, I’m worried about my safety… wait, let me finish. I’m not saying that you intend to harm me but that your behavior is likely to affect the thoughts of the people around you.”
Shi Weichong’s eyebrows drew close together. “What do you mean by that, Xiao Jin?”
“It means I’m worried about what your mother might do because you’re too close to me. Didn’t she hate that you wanted to give me back the shares? Can you swear that she has nothing but good intentions towards me?” Shi Jin asked bluntly.
Shi Weichong’s expression twisted, his lips tightening into a flat line. He didn’t speak.
Obviously, the answer to that question was no—Xu Jie made her attitude clear in her phone call with her son the last time he visited Shi Jin in hospital. Shi Weichong hadn’t expected Shi Jin to think things through to that extent, or that the teenager would be so wary that he wouldn’t even want to accept his concern.
“I’ll do something about it,” was all he said in the end.
Shi Jin let out a sigh at his response. “Shi Weichong, have you ever heard of overcompensation?”
“It’s said that some successful people, after achieving success, are hung up on whatever real or imagined deficiencies they have, or perhaps their imperfect pasts, and try to overcome this feeling of inferiority by compensating for it in an exaggerated way, consciously or unconsciously. Shi Weichong, right now, you’re just like that,” Shi Jin said. He really didn’t want to repay Shi Weichong’s kindness in this way, but their current relationship was just too unnatural. Things couldn’t continue on like this; there had to be a clean break.
Shi Weichong’s face darkened. Staring at his younger brother, he asked, “Is that what you think of me?”
Aware it was cruel, Shi Jin nodded. “Big Brother, I gave you the shares out of my own volition, you don’t need to feel guilty about it. Goodbye.” Done speaking, he stopped paying attention to Shi Weichong, and called Gua Two, who was waiting nearby. Together, they headed for Lian Jun’s car.
This time, Shi Weichong didn’t follow. He stood still and watched Shi Jin walk away, his expression strained throughout.
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