A new day had begun.
The sound of scolding pierced through the last layer of morning mist, refreshing everyone's mind and body.
"Stand up straight, come on, all of you, stand up straight."
"Don't stare at the ground, what can you even see? Don't be shy, there's no need to be shy, your faces have long been lost."
"Stand tall! Raise your heads! Look ahead! Look into my eyes."
Near the bronze sculpture at the entrance of Liyang No.2 High School, more than ten students stood in two rows, their heads hanging low and their heavy backpacks dragging them down.
Some of the students who hadn't fully woken up were scared awake by the shouting, trembling in place.
One male student couldn't help but glance up at the head teacher, then quickly lowered his head and whispered, "...mad dog."
Head Teacher Jiang, nicknamed "Mad Dog," perked up his ears and caught something. He pointed to the line of people and shouted, "Who was talking!"
The man's chest heaved up and down. He wore gold-rimmed glasses on his nose, but they did not add any refinement or elegance to his appearance. In his hand, he held an attendance sheet that recorded the names of people who were late every day. If someone was late more than three times, their name would be added to the last page of the attendance sheet - the blacklist.
The nickname "Mad Dog" had been around for a long time, given by previous students and passed down through the years. They say that no one should mess with this Head Teacher Jiang, who is scarier than a menopausal tigress.
Head Teacher Jiang narrowed his eyes and walked from the front of the line to the back, sneering, "Late again. It's only been a few days since the start of the new semester, and you're already daring to be late."
He walked from the front of the line to the back, suddenly stopping in his tracks. The other students held their breath as they heard the voice of Head Teacher Jiang suddenly become louder: "He Chao? What's going on with you?!"
He Chao stepped out of line and said, "I'm late."
"You've been living on campus this semester, and I still caught you at the school gate," Head Teacher Jiang gestured for the others to go back to class, leaving only He Chao behind. "Impressive, your ability to violate school rules is really impressive."
He Chao explained that he had gone out for a morning run and accidentally read the time wrong.
Head Teacher Jiang looked at the person in front of him, who was fresh and clean all over, and could even smell the scent of laundry detergent when he got close.
Morning run my ass, even taking a leisurely walk at the pace of a senior citizen would be more believable.
Head Teacher Jiang couldn't be bothered to continue talking to him. Looking at the time, it had already been ten minutes since class started, so he simply said, "Same old rules."
"I know, I'll reflect," said He Chao as he walked backwards. "I'll sent the letter to your office at noon. Goodbye, Head Teacher Jiang."
Seeing He Chao about to disappear, Head Teacher Jiang hurriedly said, "Wait, come here."
He Chao stopped in his tracks.
Head Teacher Jiang asked, "What's going on with that joint letter from your class?"
Although Xu Xia didn't receive any punishment after the storm, her plan to go to Experimental High School was definitely ruined. The school saw her good attitude in admitting her mistake and also took into account her years of teaching, so they didn't pursue it further.
However, the school was now troubled by the fact that the students in Class 3 wanted to change homeroom teachers.
At first, He Chao thought that not many people in the class would respond to this matter. This class was usually quiet and everyone kept to themselves. But unexpectedly, everyone's opinions about Xu Xia had exploded this time.
Liu Cunhao was the first to lead his brothers to support the cause.
"Let's do it!" said a spirited young man, with bright eyes that seemed to light up when he looked at people. "As long as our whole class participates, even if we fail in the end, we'll still get a lighter punishment for committing the crime together."
Liu Cunhao patted the young man's forehead. "Mr. Know-It-All, why are you so negative? You're already thinking about failure before we even take action."
The one being called "Mr. Know-It-All," replied, "This isn't being negative, it's strategy. I can give you ten examples of similar incidents where the fifth grade protested against a teacher who kept taking over their physical education class last year..."
He Chao had been actively persuading Xie Yu to join them in finding the Mad Dog.
Xie Yu pointed to the joint letter in Liu Cunhao's hand, which already had half of the class's signatures. "It's already an honor for me to sign it, you know?"
Head Teacher Jiang stopped him and didn't say much before leaving.
He Chao ran back to the classroom and sneaked in through the back door while the English teacher wasn't paying attention. He sat down quietly and took out a cup of hot soy milk from his empty bag and handed it to Xie Yu. "Here."
Xie Yu looked at the soy milk and straw. "What's this for?"
"To drink," He Chao hung his backpack on the back of the chair. "Don't you like it without sugar."
Ever since he found out that Xie Yu lived across the hall, He Chao would often drop by for a visit, much to Xie Yu's displeasure. Sometimes, He Chao would even wake up early and go over to Xie Yu's place to drag him out, saying: "Let's go for breakfast together."
But He Chao soon discovered that Xie Yu was a picky eater and would rather go hungry than eat something he didn't like.
"It's all the same soy milk, what's the difference between sweet and unsweetened soy milk?" He Chao asked.
"I don't drink sweet soy milk," Xie Yu replied.
The school cafeteria didn't offer a wide variety of soy milk, only the breakfast place outside the school did. He Chao had originally wanted to treat Xie Yu to a meal to thank him for his help, but didn't expect to become a food delivery boy for him.
"What are you doing? Solving problems? What is this?" He searched for his English book for a while, but when he opened it, he was confused. "...When was this assigned?"
Xie Yu borrowed the homework from the desk in front of him and didn't even lift his head. "I don't know, probably when you were deciding whether a lace dress or punk leather pants looked better."
He Chao's movements didn't escape the teacher's notice.
After the English teacher finished writing the question on the blackboard, he put down the chalk and called out He Chao's name. "This latecomer, tell us, when encountering this type of question, what is the first step to take?"
He Chao slowly stood up, hesitated for a moment, and said six words: "Give up and move on to the next one."
Xie Yu was in the middle of copying the translation question when he heard this answer. He couldn't help but mess up the letter "c" at the end and drew out a jagged line instead: "..."
The English teacher: "..."
The whole class: "..."
He Chao added, "If you encounter a problem you don't know, don't waste time."
After a moment of silence, someone couldn't help but laugh, and then the whole class burst into laughter.
"Hahaha, next level."
The English teacher wanted to be serious, but in the end, he couldn't help but break into laughter and said, "Sit down and listen carefully."
After morning self-study, rumors spread in the class that Xu Xia was transferred to the first years.
"There's a teacher there who needed surgery because of a bad throat. Xu Xia will probably go over to teach that class. Our new homeroom teacher, surnamed Tang, is about to take over."
Mr. Know-it-all was listening in outside the disciplinary office and brought back the fresh news to the class, spreading the word, "He was transferred from a prestigious school and is a top-level teacher. Sounds pretty awesome."
Wan Da always had endless gossip to share. No one knew where these rumors came from, and they were often a mix of truth and lies. Wan Da boasted that he knew everything about half the city, on top of everything that happened at Liyang No. 2 High School. As a result, people gave him the nickname "Mr. Know-It-All."
As Liu Cunhao collected homework, he casually asked, "You even dare to listen in on the Mad Dog?"
"Of course," replied Wan Da. "If you want to get firsthand information, you have to take risks."
Mr. Know-It-All's information was often unreliable, but this time he was right. The new homeroom teacher was named Tang Sen, and he had a unique name to match his ordinary appearance.
He wore a string of Buddhist prayer beads on his wrist and taught with great seriousness. Within two days, he had already matched every student's name with their face.
The person was easy to talk to and didn't have much of an attitude...but they were a bit annoying, quite the chatterbox. They could take one sentence and turn it into a long, convoluted story that didn't seem to fit together.
"Make sure to clean the classroom before you leave, get plenty of sleep tonight because good rest is important, don't eat too much greasy food, if you don't know how to do a problem you can ask but never cheat, remember to check in with your parents when you go home, they work hard all day. Oh, and it looks like it might rain tomorrow so you should bring an umbrella..."
After the last class of the day, the students who lived on campus stayed behind for evening self-study.
It was quite a coincidence that He Chao and Xie Yu, both of whom had a high chance of skipping self-study, either did it together or not at all. It wasn't until almost half a month into the school year that they realized each other was also staying in the dormitories.
Most of the classmates had left, leaving only about ten people who were chatting while doing their homework.
Outside, it was already dark.
Wan Da asked mysteriously, "Do you guys know about the ghost in our dormitory building?"
As Mr. Know-it-all started on this supernatural topic, He Chao was playing a team game with Xie Yu, completely immersed in his own gaming skills. "I'm really strong - see, I killed two with one blow. Come on, I'll cover you."
Xie Yu replied, "You need to look carefully, I'm the one who killed that person."
If it weren't for the fact that he couldn't attack his teammates, Xie Yu might have already attacked He Chao.
"We've been hearing strange noises on our floor these past few nights, especially after midnight. There have even been knocking sounds," Wan Da said, lowering his voice as he spoke. "I heard that it was only happening on the first floor a few days ago...but last night, something strange happened on the second floor too. I heard the knocking sound with my own ears. When I went to open the door, there was nothing outside, but I saw a shadow at the end of the hallway."
"I don't know if I was just seeing things," Wan Da continued. "But you all know about the rumor at our school, right? The one about the person who jumped off the roof."
The other students nodded in agreement. "Yeah, we know. The one who jumped off the top floor."
"I live on the first floor and I've heard it several times. I'm too scared to open the door when it happens. But it didn't happen last night...could it have really moved up to the upper floors?"
Xie Yu was too focused on playing the game to pay attention to what they were saying. He encountered two big bosses and was about to defeat them when he turned his head and realized his teammate had already died without him noticing. "Tsk, weren't you supposed to cover me?"
He noticed that He Chao's expression was off: "...What floor do we live on? The third floor?"