Zong Jiu didn’t pay attention to Black Shaman’s anomalies, merely passing one unspoken criticism when drying his hair with the towel.
Though everyone was made to wear blue and white uniforms at First High School, No. 8 was the most astonishing, always changing out of his school uniform without fail as long as he was at the hostel. His persistence was quite moving.
Soon, disaster struck again at the next day’s weekly quiz.
This time, three faceless trainees appeared in one shot, all of whom were either the worst or the penultimate in their respective classes.
And without exception, just like the first faceless trainee, all of them transformed shortly before the quiz, killing it the moment they walked into the test venue the next day.
The quiz results spoke for themselves.
The three affected classes just happened to be those just short of 600 marks.
After the faceless people appeared, they narrowly jumped across the 600-mark benchmark.
At a time when everyone could only score five or six hundred, the appearance of a student able to bag a thousand marks was like the coming of a deity among mortals. Not only was there one less person with two or three hundred marks dragging them down, but this one person alone raised the average score by a dozen or so marks.
But now, all three classes chose to remain silent.
In final analysis, no one was really concerned about the survival of others unless they were close friends. All anyone cared about was the midterm requirement for class averages to exceed 600. Furthermore, the students who had transformed into faceless people were marginalised underachievers.
Humans were self-interested creatures. As long as the target was hit, as long as the ones to be converted weren’t themselves, whatsoever did it have to do with them?
After this one experience, many classes even had people who believed the same as Class 5’s monitor—"I hope that those bottom-feeders in our class know their place. God knows how many of us have to work to pull up those whose scores are in the two hundreds."
"Exactly. They might as well become faceless. They’re just trash who drag the whole class down."
…and so on, so forth. Polarising comments of similar nature raged like a surging undercurrent.
As of now, out of the nine classes in the year, there were still three that failed to meet the benchmark.
One of which was Class 9.
Zong Jiu was extremely strict lately, pressuring those few bottom-scorers of Class 9 to drill practice papers together, insistently going through the ins and outs of every question that they got wrong. Occasionally, he’d even take his book and stand at the back of the classroom during class to observe if those people were paying attention.
When those pale pink eyes flitted over, beautiful yet domineering, no one dared to disobey.
Jbwqjgfv ab batfg mijrrfr, Jijrr 9 tjv bcf ragfcuat—atfgf kfgfc’a atja wjcs qglmxr. Snfc lo atfgf kfgf, atfs kbeivc’a vjgf ab rqfjx bea jujlcra Ibcu Ale.
Ktfgf kfgf rbwf vlrrfcalcu nblmfr ktfc atf mijrr wbclabg kjr olgra jqqblcafv, yea atfs tjv rlcmf vlrjqqfjgfv.
After all, Class 9’s homeroom teacher wasn’t an existence that anyone dared to run rampant around; since even he hadn’t raised any objection, how could there be a place for them to speak? Besides, though deep inside, Zong Jiu felt that this added responsibility was a thankless job, his performance as class monitor was obvious to all; he did have a role in raising the class average score, gradually convincing the naysayers.
Megatfgwbgf, fnfgsbcf mbeiv rff atf foobgar atja atbrf ja atf ybaabw bo atf mijrr kfgf qeaalcu lc. Ktf ofk bo atfw fnfc eialwjafis jaf lcab atflg alwf obg riffq, fnfc ab atf fzafca bo erlcu rqfmlji qgbqr lc bgvfg ab mgjw tjgvfg.
They had good personalities as well, and some of them were also part of major guilds. So, next to those other classes who were disorderly and didn’t yield to anyone, Class 9’s cohesiveness was all the more outstanding.
While there might have been some veiled criticism going around before the last monthly exam, after Class 9 was announced to be eighth place, all the trainees genuinely threw the bottom-scorers into the air, yelling in celebration.
At that moment, everyone had a whole new understanding of the phrase ‘one whole’.
Such a class environment free from bullying or discrimination was rare. Leaving aside Class 1, ruled by Van Zhuo with an iron fist, and Class 3, subdued by fear of No. 8 Black Shaman’s mystifying techniques, the only outlier was Class 9.
While Zong Jiu refused to admit it, rather than brute force, he much preferred the soft approach.
Originally almost fifty points short of 600, after this weekly quiz, Class 9’s score soared again.
Now, they were only fifteen marks short of the midterm target.
Even though these results were promising, they still called for anxiety.
For this was the last weekly quiz before the mid-term exams, and they’d be going straight to the battlefield with the next one.
If there was even the slightest mistake, then the whole class of trainees would meet their end.
When Zong Jiu left the hostel after taking a shower and returned to the classroom, all except for him were already seated.
"So early today? Not bad, keep it up."
The Magician casually praised, only to fix his eyes and realise that something was off.
All the trainees were huddled together, each with anxious and disapproving looks on their faces.
Seeing that the white-haired young man had entered the classroom, like finding their pillar, they exhaled in relief. "Jiu-ge!"
"Jiu-ge, you’re finally here! Hurry up and persuade these silly boys; they want to voluntarily turn into faceless people!"
"Right? I’m afraid that they’re all dummies, no wonder they can’t learn well even when they try so hard; I dare say that it’s all water and flour in their brains! When you shake it up, all you get is mush."
"What is this talk about sacrificing yourself for others? Why don’t I normally see these few jokers so dedicated?"
There were now four faceless trainees in the cohort. A quick comparison would reveal that they did have quite a number of points in common. So, many already had their guesses and conclusions about how faceless people were formed.
First, the faceless people were virtually always the bottom few of the classes.
Secondly, they had a limited social circle. They were disdained and treated as transparent nobodies in their classes. Be it out of indignance or that they were soft-spoken, they had rarely communicated with others.
Lastly, the pressure from all sides heaped onto them was immense, enough for them to lose their minds and distort their personalities.
Of course, in addition to these three points, the trainees themselves had to make a choice. Just as the teaching director had said, they had attained a certain awakening.
Most who had become faceless were trainees who cravenly clung to life and feared death. Under such extreme pressure, they chose to give up, most likely just so they wouldn’t have to endure the painful flogging alive, not realising how convenient they’d made things for others.
Through gaps in the crowd, Zong Jiu saw that the few bottom-scoring trainees of Class 9 were sitting in the middle, each looking sombre and dishevelled, intentionally creating an environment for themselves to turn into faceless people.
Although their classmates had gathered around to successively voice their complaints, the looks of concern on their faces were unconcealed.
At this time, conversely, the interests of the class were set aside to the background, and human emotions prevailed.
Unlike other classes, not a single person wanted these underachievers to raise the class average at the expense of themselves.
Zong Jiu’s eyelid twitched. He said coolly, "Save it. Look at how self-absorbed other trainees who have transformed into faceless people are. With your unruly personalities, it’d be strange if you guys can become one. If you have the time for this, you might as well run through two more papers."
The class roared with laughter, and even index 98 and 99 who were sitting in the middle couldn’t help but break out of the zone, giggling like two hundred and fifty pounds of two idiots.
Zong Jiu didn’t rush, waiting until they had laughed their fill before putting the book he carried onto the table, his expression returning to seriousness.
At the sight of his expression, the atmosphere that had just turned lively instantly congealed again.
"Not only before this exam, but in the subsequent sixty-odd days, I hope that such a laughable situation will never arise again. Aren’t the efforts we put into studying for the sake of the whole class? If anyone dares to sacrifice themselves to become faceless as per that lousy diary, don’t blame me for calling everyone to give you a beating."
"Class 9 will always be one whole. There are 99 of us, and we either live together or we die together. I will not let even one be left behind."
The white-haired young man’s cadence was calm and certain, his words powerful and resonant.
Although no fancy rhetoric or eloquent diction was used, it still made many of these B-rank veterans red-eyed.
Let alone the class, even the bullet chat was a mess of tears.
[Mummy, I’m gonna cry. This is too touching, fuck.]
[I’m already clutching my tissues /wails]
[The environment in Class 9 is too good. Even though they’re not the top class, they display the most human warmth. After scouting the live broadcasts of the different classes, I found that I still like it best here.]
[Yeah, mainly because Class 9’s monitor is really too nice… Which other class monitors would take the time and effort to tutor these poor students? It’s pretty good that no monitor is ganging the class together to put pressure on the underachievers; they go on about how they won’t give up on any of their peers… yet they still quietly consent to letting the whole class deliberately outcast them, using actions to show that they want these poor students to become faceless more than anyone else. I’ve really seen too many examples after so many days of camping the various live broadcasts, it really chills my heart.]
[Right, exactly. Only Class 9 is speaking from the heart, uniting as one. I’ve zoomed the camera in to look at every one of them and seriously, just by looking at their expressions I can see that there’s not a single trainee in the class who is just paying lip service. Everyone sincerely wants to make it to the end together as 99 people.]
[During this instance, I’ve really changed my mind about the Magician. I don’t know why, but in the past, although I used to follow his live broadcasts—and he always performed brilliantly—I kept feeling that his emotions were a little flat, like he was indifferent to everything. Now I know. It’s not a lack of emotion, it’s a lack of human warmth. This instance really made me have a whole new level of respect for him. (bawls) Class 9, fighting!!!]
[Seconding the person above. I feel the same! Who would have thought that in spite of the brutality of this instance and that everyone has long graduated, it would still give me such a deep sense of immersion.]
In the classroom, the rims of the trainees’ eyes had reddened. Index 99 even sobbed, unable to stop his tears from falling.
This time, no one laughed at him. Everyone patted his shoulders comfortingly, their own eyes brimming with tears.
There were many trainees in this classroom who hadn’t even attended high school and had yet to experience this atmosphere.
Yet at this moment, ninety-nine hearts seemed to be beating as one.
Every trainee looked at each other, yelling at the top of their lungs, almost bringing down the ceiling with their voices. "Understood! Class monitor!"
"We are Class 9. We live together, we die together; not one will be left behind—!"