10m^2, a bed, a table, a chair, a prayer mat, a shower and a toilet, that was all for Han Lingyun's tiny house, the same for all the new 1st year disciples. It was what was needed and nothing more. Here at the White Tiger school, nothing is left to randomness to shape those future cultivators, everything has been planned and perfected after batches and batches of new disciples. The individual home helped isolate the disciples when cultivating. The simplicity of the lifestyle served to avoid distractions, to humble spoiled brats and in a way to encourage disciples to strive for better.
Han Lingyun's good night of sleep was interrupted by a loud gong as the first rays of the sun where peaking on the horizon. Another big day was starting.
"WAKE UP! YOU HAVE 5 MINUTES TO BE AT THE PLAZA". A young women shouted extremely loudly by using qi to reinforce her call.
Han Lingyun haphazardly emerged from his little house to come face to face with another zombie. They both looked at each other and started laughing.
"Bahaha I've never seen such large dark circles!" the boy laughed at Han Lingyun, pointing a finger at his face.
"You haven't seen yourself and your empty look!" Han Lingyun found the scene hilarious.
"Brother what's your name, I'm Shen Lin." The boy reached out for a handshake which Han Lingyun enthusiastically took.
"I am Han Lingyun brother, we must be destined to be brothers with names in Lin, it's not a coincidence that we are neighbors." Han Lingyun joked.
"Of course, it's not, we are housed according to our ranks, haven't you noticed?" Shen Lin remarked.
"Well to be fair, I wasn't really in a state to think about anything last night." Han Lingyun scratched his head.
"Let's go, we don't want to be late on the first day." Shen Lin laughed it off.
Soon the 800 were standing in front of the strict sounding woman, all looking more or less half-asleep.
"Humph what a bunch a snot covered brats! What is that attitude? To wake yourselves up, go circle around the south peak twice. If you don't run, I'll beat you up."
Han Lingyun and Shen Lin kept chatting as they started to run. "I'm pretty sure you wouldn't want to mess with that girl, she looks tough man!" Shen Lin whispered.
Han Lingyun laughed under his breath. "She is more than tough, she is a cultivator while we are just mortals, she could crush you 100 times over just by lifting a finger."
"IF YOU HAVE TIME TO BE TALKING, IT MEANS YOU CAN RUN FASTER!"
"Alright, now that everyone is awake, it's time to explain your day's program, one of the most important days of your life. First of all, you can call me Captain Lacroix, I will be responsible for you bunch of newborns until you can take a shit by yourselves. This morning, you will be meeting the 2nd year disciples."
A silence engulfed the plaza. What would they look like in a years' time?
"Each and every one of you will be assigned to a second year in relation to your entry rank. To be precise, your initial entry rank will correspond to their initial entry rank as 1st years, and not their current rank. Those at the bottom of the rankings will be two 1st years for a second year."
Captain Lacroix took another pause so that all understood what the last point truly meant.
"There are only 657 second years out of the initial 800, the others are dead or missing. Let that sink in for a moment. This is why other than cultivation, you will find them so much different from you lot. Here you will have to mature fast or you will be weeded out."
"All right that's it for the gloomy stuff, this afternoon you will be able to choose your first qi art and you will receive the body cultivation manual."
A wave of excitement quickly washed away the fear in everyone's heart.
"But first, welcome the second years."
Ten rows of disciples appeared in pristine white, tight-fitting robes with black stripes on the sides. Their measured steps had a profound regularity that screamed training. It was as if their steps were resonating with the first years' hearts.
All fell silent as the second years approached. A wild aura enveloped the plaza. The new disciples felt like mice staring at wild tigers.
"Halt!" captain Lacroix ordered. "At the White Tiger school, we place a great deal of importance to traditions. The first one is to learn the school's song and rallying cry. Let the 2nd years demonstrate.
A booming song started, with both solemn verses and a vibrant chorus. The polyphony made it absolutely magical for those impressable 10-year-olds. They yearned to be like them.
Then came the rallying cry, with so much strength that the 1st years felt a wind started to blow.
One voice: "I am a White?"
One voice: And we will?"
The 1st graders were all gob smacked and Han Lingyun was no exception. When 600 body cultivators scream the same thing on the top of their lungs, the effect is powerful. Han Lingyun could only think of one thing right now: army, commando. 'Holy shit that was impressive. It seems that the school puts in a great effort to attach the cultivators to the school and build a common goal. It seems strange as cultivation should be inherently individualistic. Obviously, they should gain some benefits from this approach. To retain more cultivators? To build a strong sentiment in favor of the school?'
"All right, now that the little demonstration is over, it's time for you all to be paired up. 1st years, the minors meet your majors. Rank 1, Wei Muchen paired with Ren Xui."
The two stepped forward and walked to the side. "Rank 2 Wang Yimo paired with Teng Haoran…"
Hang Lingyun paid particular attention to Wei Muchen and Wang Yimo, he heard from Shen Lin that this year's first two ranks both have a 5th grade talent, a rare occurrence. Those two would probably soar in the coming weeks or months. Wei Muchen was a tall boy filled with confidence. His muscles where quite developed for his age. Wang Yimo looked like a delicate young girl with long chestnut hair but her gaze was firm.
"Rank 15, Shen Lin…"
"Rank 16, Han Lingyun with Lan Ruoxi." Han Lingyun stepped forward and met with a young girl with a playful smile. She had long elegant black hair, which contrasted with her fair skin. Her deep blue eyes were sizing up Han Lingyun as he was examining her too. He came up with a simple conclusion: 'My major is beautiful.'
"Good morning miss Lan." Han Lingyun bowed.
"Hihi, hello my little minor, don't be formal, we basically have the same age. Here let's shake hands. Great, welcome to the shu family!" Lan Ruoxi was all smiles.
"Doesn't shu mean Rat? It's an…. Interesting name for the family. A but miss Lan, what do you mean by family?"
Lan Ruoxi's face soured: "Don't worry about the name it doesn't mean anything. It's not like we chose it anyway… You'll just have to live with it. A-And the shu family can also be considered the 16th family so it's pretty good overall. As for what is the family? Very simple: you are my minor and I'm your major, but I also have a major in 3rd year, his name is Zhang Fang and he is very strong. And my major also has a major, we call it grand-major, who has a major, my great-grand-major, who has a major, my great-great-grand-major, who also…"
"No need to continue, I understood. So does the family do anything?" Han Lingyun interrupted the infinite loop.
"Well first of all there's ME, hihi. Being your major, my duty is to introduce you to the sect and guide you for the start of the year. As for your grand-majors and older, you won't be able to see them often. However, we try to have a family meeting at least once a year. The most valuable thing they could give you is personal advice on your cultivation. They could also be very helpful as the majors generally look out for their minors when they are available." Lan Ruoxi explained, still excited by the prospect of having her own minor.
Han Lingyun was sold. "What a great system! Do you know who's the oldest member of the family?"
Lan Ruoxi scratched her head: "Not really, generally the greater the gap in generation, the greater the distance. Not to mention that disciples tend to cut ties with their families at the age of 16. So, it's unlikely that you will meet a member of the family with a greater age at the school."
Han Lingyun nodded. Still, he understood the benefits of that system. What better way to guide disciples than to use other disciples who crossed the same hurdles? Not to mention this system also increased the disciples' bonds to the school to a certain extent.
Han Lingyun knew that he just gained access to a goldmine of precious information, so he tried his best to get as many answers as possible.