Chapter 112: The Last Question that No One could Match!
Square in the school.
The woman from the Couplet Organization gave him a call.
“Hello, Teacher Zhang Ye. Where are you?”
“I’m already inside, in the square where the preliminaries are held.”
“Oh? Why can’t I see you? Which one are you?”
“Are you the one in a white long dress? I can see you.”
She was the only one making a phone call. Zhang Ye walked over, and she was indeed the woman from the Couplet Organization. “Hello.”
The woman lowered her cellphone and handed him a contestant pass and said, “Sorry, Teacher Zhang. The staff missed it. They just found it. Hurry up and participate. There’s no need to register. You just need to answer a question. Well, I have something else to do. I’m leaving first.”
“Thank you.” Zhang Ye watched her leave.
Not far away, Hu Fei greeted him, “You got it?”
Zhang Ye tersely acknowledged before looking at the questions asked in the preliminaries.
There were three question boards in front. They were spaced ten meters apart. There were many people crowded in front of each question board. There were contestants, as well as spectators. Of course, there were not many contestants left at this moment. Many of them had passed the preliminaries and entered the hall by answering correctly. There were less than twenty people left answering. They were pondering deeply in front of the question boards. The questions did not seem easy.
There were the preliminaries’ rules by the side.
1. Contestants, please answer the questions according to the specifications.
2. You have passed only after the judges’ decision.
3. There are only 50 questions. There cannot be more than 50 people passing the preliminaries.
Xiao Lu exclaimed, “There are only 50 questions? Aren’t there nearly a hundred contestants? Doesn’t that mean that they are eliminating half? That’s too cruel!”
Hou Ge was in a hurry, “There’s not much time left!”
Hou Di pointed to the question board. “There are only two questions left on this board. Ah, that board is full and all the questions have been answered by others. The third board also only has one question left!”
There were three questions left, and about 20 contestants who had not given up on answering!
Some of the contestants felt that they would not be able to answer and had given up, so they had entered the spectator stands.
“Hurry, hurry, hurry! Let us quickly look at the questions! Grab every second!” Xiao Lu said in a rush.
The 50 questions were all couplets. There were four-word, five-word and seven-word verses. All of them were the first half of a couplet. The rules were very simple. There was no lack of ink and brushes in front of the boards. As long as a contestant wrote an answer below the first half of a couplet, and matched it properly with the proper correspondence, they would pass.
The three judges from the Couplet Organization had the authority to make the judgement. The judges were all pretty old. Two of them were old men, and one of them was an old granny. Although Zhang Ye did not know them, he could tell that they were likely authoritative figures in the industry from the way the contestants were so respectful to them. At least, they were top experts in the couplet domain.
After calming his mind, Zhang Ye began looking at the questions.
Zhang Ye scanned them once. He discovered that the couplets in this world were similar to those from his world. Heaven matched Earth, Rain matched Wind, Land matched Sky. There was no difference at all. However, he saw some that he had never seen before. Many of the couplets did not exist in Zhang Ye’s former world. Maybe it was because Zhang Ye was not well-read, or perhaps he had already forgotten. After all, he did not really study much of couplet culture.
Let’s eat a Memory Search Capsule first!
Zhang Ye opened his game ring and looked at his Reputation. With the help from yesterday’s public service advertisement, his overall Reputation points were still slowly increasing. It wasn’t fast, but after two days and one night, it had managed to reach 100,000. Zhang Ye clicked on the Merchant Shop to buy one Memory Search Capsule, before eating it.
His memories flashed past.
Under the mental guidance of Zhang Ye, time returned to the year 2011 from his previous world.
Back then, Zhang Ye had just entered college. He was determined to become famous. Every piece of news had an objective attraction to it. One weekend, he had obtained a library card and went to the Media College’s library to browse through books. In the beginning, he did not manage to find books he wanted to read. So he flipped through books like searching a needle in a haystack. In the end, he had flipped through a couplet compilation and a companion book that explained and dissected couplets.
The two books were not thick.
One page, ten pages, a hundred pages.
The five minutes were up.
The Memory Search time was over.
Zhang Ye slowly opened his eyes. Back then, he had been flippantly browsing, but now with the Memory Search reinforcing his memory, Zhang Ye could remember every single couplet!
Immediately, he looked at the 50 questions again!
In the clouds, something, something? I don’t know!
The flying snow, something, something? No idea!
Scorching vine, something, something? Never seen before!
After seeing quite a number, they were works that had not appeared in Zhang Ye’s world. He could not answer them. But just as he was beginning to believe that the couplets of his world had no crossover with this world, a couplet appeared in his eyes. Following that, there was a second and a third!
They existed! There were really some that he recognized!
They were identical to the couplets from his world!
For example, the 41st question, the first half was: Two Three Four Five.
The second half had been matched by someone else. It wrote: Six Seven Eight Nine.
This couplet looked silly and a bit ridiculous, but there was a profoundness to it. Zhang Ye had previously searched his memories and there was a dissection of this particular couplet. In professional terms, it was a hidden couplet. Why did Six Seven Eight Nine match Two Three Four Five? That was because Two Three Four Five lacked (缺, Quē) One (一, Yī), and which sounded like lacking (缺) clothes (衣, Yī). And Six Seven Eight Nine was missing (少, Shǎo) Ten (十, Shí), which sounded like missing (少) food (食, Shí). Together, it formed an idiom, 缺衣少食 (Quē Yī Shǎo Shí) “have not enough clothing and very little food”. This was a hidden couplet.
This discovery made Zhang Ye overjoyed. After inspecting it once, although the couplets from his world only took up about 20-30% of the 50 couplets, this was enough to make Zhang Ye relieved. This meant that he still had a chance. It meant that the two worlds had a crossover in works, and it was not to a tiny extent. After thinking about it, they had shared a similar history. Some historical figures were still the same, even after being altered by the game ring. Therefore, the couplet culture, as a whole, shouldn’t differ by too much. For the same couplets to appear in both worlds was not unusual at all.
Xiao Lu suddenly said, “Hey, I may be able to match this couplet. When I was an editor, I had seen a similar one to this before. I just need to modify it a little and it should work. Morning snow….. not right, morning dew…..”
Hou Ge urged “Xiao Lu, come on, hurry!”
“Don’t rush me. I am still thinking!” Xiao Lu grasped her hair.
Isn’t it morning something something, won’t it be better to match it with early?” Hou Di also chipped in with ideas.
It could be seen that all of them sincerely wanted Zhang Ye to qualify for the finals to prevent the lowlives from the Beijing Writers’ Association from achieving their target at discounting Zhang Ye’s authority within the literary circle.
Over there was a middle-aged man who suddenly smacked his own forehead. He then stepped forward with a writing brush and matched the couplet by writing on it while Xiao Lu, Hou Di and the others were thinking. After he wrote, he looked over at the 3 judges and received their acknowledgment. He laughed heartily. He had passed!
Xiao Lu was mad, “Someone got it before us!”
Hou Di said pitifully “Just a step short; we were close to an answer!”
“There are only two questions left.” Dafei reminded.
However, Hu Fei sighed and pointed, “Actually, there’s only one left.”
When they looked over, they saw an old foe of Zhang Ye’s stepping up, holding a brush and matching the couplet. His strokes were vigorous and strong, and the words were very nicely written. That person was Big Thunder, a poet from the Beijing Writers’ Association. After getting the judges’ acknowledgment, he laughed, “Thank you, Teachers.”
The bald, old male judge looked at him and said, “Big Thunder, you were the previous couplet competition’s runner up. Why did you use such a long time to match?”
The second judge, the old granny smiled, “Did you not see it? Big Thunder did not answer the simple questions, but chose one of the two most difficult questions. This is the ingrained stubbornness of the previous runner up. Hur Hur. Only Big Thunder has such a standard. If he did not answer this question, I guess that no one else would be able to.”
The third judge, an old man said, “There’s still one last question left? Oh, my guess wasn’t bad at all. This is really the last question left. Elder Qian, this question of yours cannot be answered by just anyone. It’s just the preliminary round and you are already making it so difficult? In such a short time, who can match this couplet?”
Elder Qian was the 1st judge of this year’s competition. He was also the oldest and the most experienced. He touched his beard and said, “This is the Couplet Competition. How can it be interesting if it is not difficult?”
Big Thunder and the judges obviously knew each other. He said to them upon hearing that, “The 50th question was given by Elder Qian? No wonder, I was thinking about it all day but could not match it. This couplet is probably not going to be matched by anyone. Don’t mention trying to match it, whether it can be read properly would also be a problem. Even a professional might not be able to read it right.”
That was a given. Elder Qian was known as the Phantom Talent in the literary circle. He wasn’t a part of the Beijing Couplet Organization, nor the Beijing Writers’ Association, but he was a member of the National Writers’ Association. His reputation was very high, and he was well-known for giving extremely difficult questions, and not only in the field of couplets. He was one of the examiners at this year’s college entrance examinations, too. His questions were usually not given to grade a student, but to differentiate the good students from the bad.
A lot of contestants had now given up, including many distinguished authors and university professors. When met with such a question and hearing the conversation between Elder Qian and Big Thunder, everyone knew that they had to give up, and that there was no chance of them passing the preliminary round. They might as well be content with being the audience today.
All of them gave up, except for Zhang Ye, who was still staring at the question. His eyes were even blinking.. because this couplet was one that he had seen before!