The more Zong Jiu answered his questions with composure, the more curious Mr. Nan who had been secretly watching him became.
As the cohort’s Biology teacher, these days No. 1 not only watched the show himself but also manipulated his puppets to roam various classes, watching the show. On occasion, he’d even stir up trouble in person. He had a firm grasp on information resources.
Since Van Zhuo and Zong Jiu secretly exchanged intel, the rest of the classes naturally wouldn’t just wait with their clues like sitting ducks. Just like Class 5’s monitor, who was in favour of turning the bottom of his class into faceless trainees, and other classes who were taking a neutral stance.
None of these small actions was hidden from the Devil’s eyes; he was delighted to see how the trainees would struggle to survive in this hellish instance.
No. 1 kept sauntering around in his vision, but Zong Jiu couldn’t even be bothered to pay him any attention. The tip of his pen spat ink, flowing across the examination script.
Although the Tarot Deck foretold Class 9 would smoothly pass this exam, Zong Jiu naturally wasn’t going to drop the ball at this juncture. On the contrary, to raise the class average, he had been also drilling questions these days. Relying on his good memory to memorise standard answers so he could mechanically copy and paste the answers when coming across similar subjective questions.
Soon, amidst the silence swathing the venue, the time arrived.
[I wonder which classes can hit the passing score this time. I’m so nervous!]
[Meeee toooo! I’ve been jumping channels between the different classes these days; two classes still haven’t cleared it yet.]
[T.T I’m only worried about Class 9’s results. Can someone tell me how it goes~]
[Hahaha, I also like Class 9. Their internal mock tests were toeing the line though, so it’s pretty scary. It’s all up to fate.]
[Bless and protect these babies. I like Class 9’s atmosphere the most, I hope they won’t be completely wiped out.]
Swiftly, it became time for the papers to be marked.
Index 99 sat in his seat, fidgeting.
His face was flushed livid red. He raised a trembling hand. "Teacher, can I use the washroom? I was nervous before the exam and drank too much water. I wanna pee."
His voice rang out through the silent quadrangle. Everyone heard him. The originally sombre atmosphere was swept clean as everyone roared with laughter.
Trainees could go without food and water, though most people would still drink a bit of water even if they didn’t eat the subpar cafeteria food at First High. It was rare for people not to touch a single drop of water; most would still get warm water or brew a bit of coffee to tide them through the night.
Those like index 99 however, who had to hold in his urine because he drank too much water, were still a rare sight.
The teaching director swept a contemptuous gaze over the index number on his chest and didn’t reply.
A teaching assistant standing on one side spoke icily, "If you’re not yet back after the results have come in and your class needs to be executed, we’ll make your life a living hell."
These words were no less frightful. Other trainees who birthed such thoughts recoiled.
Everyone considered using the washroom as a way to buy time, but now no one dared to speak.
Index 99 shivered. "Got it! I’ll be back as soon as possible."
With that, he covered his crotch and jogged to the teaching block, appearing urgent for the toilet.
It wasn’t the first time index 99 had a hiccup; Class 9’s trainees didn’t say anything much after their laughter subsided. Conversely, Class 7’s Tsuchimikado also raised his head to request to go to the washroom as well as a few other underachieving students.
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Only Zong Jiu gazed after the distant back of index 99 before withdrawing his eyes as if it was nothing.
Finally, about a quarter of an hour later, the results were out.
When announcing the results, every trainee of Class 9 was clenching their teeth, trepidation of impending death hanging on their faces.
In the week before the monthly exam, four more faceless trainees emerged.
By the time the midterm exam started, aside from Class 1 and Class 9, every class had at least one faceless person amidst their ranks—especially Class 5, with three among them, immediately scaling the rankings to stand in the upper-middle tier.
The teaching director was announcing the marks from high to low.
The classes that made it all broke out cheering.
"Class 7: 614 marks!"
Class 7 gave a start, then started to applaud.
Someone muttered, "If our class wasn’t the first to produce a faceless person, we’d surely have been dragged down by No. 10 this time."
"Right… just because we made it this time doesn’t mean we’ll make the next cut. It’s amazing, really, an almighty S-rank, yet completely hopeless at learning."
Their whispered conversations were without the slightest attempt at discretion, falling in the ears of Tsuchimikado seated behind.
Even though he was an S-rank, Tsuchimikado wasn’t having an easy time either. The trainees in his class were barely containing their words of vitriol at him.
Fortunately, he had a good personality. Even down on his luck, he could remain optimistic and never gave up. He turned a deaf ear to what others said about him and although he was a study slag, he would still put his best foot forward in his studies.
Not one of those with the strength to emerge as S-ranks amidst the lot was easy to deal with. All else aside, they would have undergone countless perilous situations in horror instances and saw much more than other people did. If this little bit of pressure could take him down, then Tsuchimikado might as well step aside and give up his position.
After watching this scene, Zong Jiu touched his chin, feeling he could consider bringing No. 10 into the fold.
No hurry, it’s still better to be prudent and do a tarot reading later.
"Class 2: 607 marks!"
Now that the scores were only a little over six hundred, Class 9’s trainees were wearing sullen expressions on their faces.
With such a small gap in scores, it would be difficult to see a miracle. The announced score could only be lower than 607; who knew if it would just happen to be 599?
However, there were still three classes whose scores had yet to be announced. Some trainees in those classes even started to put their hands together and call on divinities.
"Class 9: 602 marks."
Class 9’s trainees looked at each other, and after a second of silence, they erupted in cheers, standing up and applauding with genuine, relaxed smiles, drawing a lot of attention from others.
Of so many classes, none of the others had such a joyous atmosphere. Class 5’s monitor was the first to sneer. "What’s so great about that? You’ve only made it this time, but can you hold out for the rest of your lives? It’s going to be your turn in the next monthly exam."
In stark contrast to the exuberance of Class 9, there were the fearful and dejected faces of the other two classes.
One of them was Class 10, whose monitor had always been a good friend of Class 5’s monitor.
Class 10’s monitor was now trembling, causing his desk and chair to shake as well.
Their class didn’t have any of the top 10 students. They then bucked up, but the emergence of the faceless people ignited conflicts and disagreements within the class, leading to some slippage in academic performance. Now, each of them sorely regretted it.
The other class, Class 4, was even more tragic. A faceless person finally emerged in the last weekly quiz, pulling up their scores. Yet, as a result, the rest of the trainees in class slacked off, and with someone screwing up in this midterm, their scores were directly dragged down.
The students in both classes were staring hard at the teaching director standing in front of the podium, expecting a miracle to appear at the last second.
Lamentably, the teaching director set the paper in his hand.
And in that instant, their blood froze.
"The aforementioned are the classes that have passed the cut in this midterm exam.
"The cut-off score for the next monthly exam is 800 marks. I bid for every class to prepare well.
"Now, all unrelated people are to evacuate from the quadrangle. The execution is about to begin."
Every trainee drew in a cold breath, and even the bullet chat was disbelieving.
[Damn, what’s up with this collective instance. Are they going to kill everyone?]
[That shouldn’t be. Friend, have you seen the instances for the other ranks. There’s always a way out.]
[Yeah, I have, but with all due respect, I don’t see any way out of this school instance.]
[Ah… there’ll definitely be one. After all, this collective instance… you know. The system’s objective is to cut down the flanks. Even if they find a way out, it’s probably only for a small portion of them. It’s impossible for everyone to remain standing at the end of this instance.]
An average score of 800 marks!
What did it mean? The full mark was 1150. Subtracting 100 for those deadly Olympiad questions, a total score of 800 marks was approximately equivalent to getting more than 120 in Language, Maths, and English, and more than 70 in each of the other subjects.
As previously mentioned, for these trainees who only pursued academics for three months, this was as difficult as asking them to ascend to the heavens.
Many B-ranked trainees even started to sob on the quadrangle, their expressions disconsolate.
The duration of this instance was far too long, and the high-intensity fear and oppression were enough to wear down countless people’s spirits.
They were wasting so much time learning high school knowledge utterly useless to them—just to stay alive.
Despair enshrouded the quadrangle.
After unrelated people evacuated the quadrangle, no one had the heart to watch the tragedy unfold on the quadrangle this time.
After witnessing it twice, everyone became desensitised to that scene, the agonised screams and cries and the tuneless shredding sounds.
Zong Jiu returned to the classroom and gave index 99 a look. The two of them walked to the hallway.
Covered by the noises from downstairs, they stood in the corridor, conversing in hushed tones.
"How was it?" Zong Jiu asked.
"It’s locked. There’s indeed no one there, but there’s also no way in."
Index 99 shook his head. "They only open the door when something happens to a student, then like dumping trash, sweep all those corpses inside."
Index 99 said hesitantly, "However… when I stood outside, I could feel it was eerily cold in there."
Recalling how Tsuchimikado vouched this wasn’t a supernatural-type instance, a deep thought flashed in Zong Jiu’s eyes.
He’d have to seek experts’ help for matters like this that required professional expertise. If possible, he would have to dupe Tsuchimikado over to take a look.
The white-haired young man curled his finger, absently tapping it on the railing. "We have to enter the Corpse Pit once before the second monthly exam."
There was a line in the diary the girl left behind. On July 4th, she said she found it next to the Corpse Pit.
While this sentence was without context, it still caught Zong Jiu’s attention.
It was a pity the pages before were wet. Otherwise, they would have been able to obtain more clues.
There must be something at the Corpse Pit that could point out the key behind unlocking this instance.
However, what was vexing was the Corpse Pit was built underneath the teaching block. Let alone being securely locked, there were also teaching assistants standing guard. It was only left unattended during exams, which was why Zong Jiu requested index 99 to slip away to the washroom in front of everyone.
Fortunately, they still received valuable information.
The only worrisome factor was how to open the locked gates of the Corpse Pit, as well as how to evade the teaching assistants’ sights. Even before all that, they had to get Tsuchimikado, a psychic master, to survey the site with them.
If they were to follow the usual school schedule, the security around the Corpse Pit was so tight it would be difficult for them to find a leeway.
Fortunately, they didn’t have to wait too long for this chance.
A week after the midterms, First High School suddenly announced that in response to the call for holistic development of moral, intellectual, and physical education, the teaching director decided to set aside an entire afternoon to hold a basketball competition.
Hearing this news, Zong Jiu’s eyes flashed.
The chance had come.