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Chapter 218 - How Much Do You Know About the Past? (Part One)
Chen Changsheng had finished with his story.
After a moment of silence, the area erupted with discussion. The gazes directed towards Ji Jin were now rather complicated. Previously, this Senior had harshly asked if, among the countless methods of comprehending the Reflecting Monolith from ancient times up until now, there existed a correct path that deviated from the ocean. But now it would seem that the method which the Duke of Wei had used to comprehend the Heavenly Tome Monolith back then was completely different from the orthodox methods. How could he respond?
Ji Jin’s face grew unsightly, as he had also just recalled the legend about Duke of Wei viewing the monoliths. He could not deny the existence of this story. While the history books had no records of it, the Mausoleum of Books did. As a Monolith Guardian, he had personally seen them. The Duke of Wei truly had comprehended the Heavenly Tome Monoliths as being laws, which was why he later on became the protector of the rites of Zhou, the admonishing king, before finally becoming a trusted minister. Only Ji Jin was unwilling to be convinced by this junior. With a heavy voice, he said, “When the Duke of Wei saw the lines of the Monolith Inscriptions and understood them as laws, he still formed his ideas by observing its shape, and then used these ideas to stimulate his spiritual sense.”
Everyone grew restless at these words. Several young examinees at the back of the crowd shook their heads. The shape and idea spoken of in the three mainstream methods were completely different from the shape and idea said just now. The Duke of Wei had never cultivated once in his entire life. He had only relied on his courage and insight, not any sort of spiritual sense. With these words, it seemed like Ji Jin had just resorted to sophistry.
Seeing people’s reactions to his words, Ji Jin got even angrier. But before he could say anything else, Gou Hanshi spoke up once more.
“I have also thought of a story. This story was recorded in the “Tales on Returning to the Origin”, not within the Daoist Canons. I read it when I was small. If it wasn’t for Chen Changsheng bringing up the Duke of Wei, I probably would have forgotten about it. This story was about the Leader of the Way, who posed a question to a woodcutter.”
Everyone was astonished. The Leader of the Way asked a question to a woodcutter? How had they never heard of this before?
Gou Hanshi continued, “In those days, the world was strife-ridden. The teachings of the Way had not yet been established, much less the Orthodoxy, but the first leader of the Way was already a powerful expert at an extremely high level of cultivation. He had entered the Mausoleum of Books to view the monoliths multiple times, attempting to comprehend a part of the true meaning of the Heavenly Dao each time. But although he obtained some gain every time, he found himself well short when he wanted to ascend to the summit of the mausoleum. On a certain day, the Leader of the Way was stroking a monolith while looking at the peak of the mausoleum, filled with regret that his career as a Daoist had finally reached its limit, that in this life, it would be incredibly difficult for him to proceed another step. Then, to his surprise, he saw a woodcutter descending from the mausoleum summit, a bundle of firewood on his back. The Leader of the Way was struck by the oddness of this scene. “If I could not reach the top of the mausoleum,” he thought to himself, “The other experts of the continent who have similar cultivations also can’t reach it. In that case, how did this woodcutter, who clearly can’t cultivate and whose body is aged and feeble, walk to the mausoleum summit as he pleased?”
The hut fell into silence once more. Their minds had all been mesmerized by this never before heard story. “Could it be,” they thought to themselves, “That this woodcutter was really an expert of the Heavenly Dao, that perhaps he had even entered into the legendary Realm of Grand Liberation?”
“The Leader of the Way sincerely asked for instruction. The woodcutter replied that his ancestor had made their living off cutting wood from this mountain since ages ago. The Leader of the Way strenuously inquired, how was he able to find his way through the mausoleum? After a long period of hesitation, the woodcutter brought the Leader of the Way in front of a monolith. He told him that the path through the mausoleum was all on this monolith, that he woulde just need to walk according to its instructions…After he said these words, the woodcutter descended from the mountain.”
Gou Hanshi paused, then continued, “The Leader of the Way pondered before that monolith for dozens of days and nights, but he failed to find any sort of path amongst those lines. Then, one night, he had a sudden realization. He gave three hearty laughs, and with a brush of his sleeves, he flew straight to the summit of the mausoleum. There, he comprehended the entirety of the Heavenly Dao, and founded the Daoist school. Even after he’d reached his later years and had finally returned to the sea of stars, he still could never forget how he could never see the path on the Heavenly Tome Monolith that the woodcutter had seen…”
This story had also come to an end.
Only silence surrounded the monolith hut.
Ji Jin’s face extremely unsightly as he retorted. “Leaving aside what sort of method the woodcutter used to see the path in the inscriptions and only speaking about the ‘Tales of Returning to the Origin’ that this story was recorded in…What sort of book is ‘Tales of Returning to the Origin’? If it is not to be found in the Daoist Canons, how can we trust it? Don’t tell me you randomly made up a story to prove that I was wrong?”
Chen Changsheng shook his head. “The ‘Tales of Returning to the Origin’ is a collection of the First Leader of the Way’s conversations from the one hundred years before he returned to the sea of stars. As for the why it wasn’t included in the Daoist Canon, it’s because one thousand five hundred thirty-seven years after the establishment of the Orthodoxy, the descendants of the first Leader of the Way attempted a schism within the Way. They were then accused of the sin of treason, and their traces were purged. That is why this book is not included in the Daoist Canon. However, it is still a true part of the Canon. The original copy is still probably in Li Palace. We can consult it at any time.”
Gou Hanshi had wanted to say exactly this. He exchanged glances with Chen Changsheng for a second, and slightly nodded his head. They were both young people that had read the Daoist Canon in depth, so they could respond off of each other. It really was a good sort of feeling. While the troubles, or even grudges, between Chen Changsheng and the Mount Li Sword Sect were hard to resolve, Gou Hanshi held no enmity for him. Chen Changsheng also saw Gou Hanshi in an increasingly better light. The reason why they liked each other was largely because of their knowledge of the Daoist Canon.
Everyone knew that Gou Hanshi’s knowledge of the Daoist Canon was profound. After the first night of the Ivy Festival, Chen Changsheng’s reputation in this field had also become widespread. At this moment, the former narrated while the latter supplemented. And when Chen Changsheng explained that the original copy could be found at the Li Palace and could at any time be consulted, everyone there believed it without a doubt. At this point, Ji Jin’s face had grown extremely unsightly, and even seemed a little ashen.
“Enough.” Accompanied by a cold voice, a white-robed Monolith Guardian appeared.
This Monolith Guardian’s hair was all white and his age advanced. Those young examinees who knew him spoke in disbelief. “Mister Nian Guang.”
Chen Changsheng had to ask Gou Hanshi before he understood. This Mister Nian Guang had originated from the Temple Seminary. He had cultivated since he was a child and had become rather well-known in the cultivation world. Yet, for some reason, after he had obtained qualifications from a certain Grand Examination, he had entered the Mausoleum of Books and took the vows to become a Monolith Guardian, and never again emerged.
Nian Guang looked at Gou Hanshi and Chen Changsheng and indifferently said, “Neither the Duke of Wei nor the woodcutter cultivated, yet the two of you are cultivators. When you view the monoliths, it is for the purpose of asking the Heavenly Dao, not for laws or finding the real path up. Sir Ji Jin’s words are not necessarily without reason. Of course, for you two to persevere in opening a new path is truly a courageous course of action, and not necessarily inappropriate.”
From hearing these words, everyone there understood that this virtuous and upstanding personage had come to settle the dispute.
Gou Hanshi and Chen Changsheng clasped their hands in respect and said nothing more.
Nian Guang then turned to Ji Jin with a slight frown. His voice seemed to take pity on him, yet also seemed o angry. “Back then, you only took a few years to comprehend the first seventeen monoliths of the mausoleum, and we all praised you for your mind as tranquil as water. But now, what has happened to you? Even if your alma mater paid offerings to our cultivation, how could you waste time on such ordinary affairs from outside the mausoleum?”
Ji Jin had attempted to humiliate Chen Changsheng not just because of the urgings of outside forces, but also because he himself had wanted to. Now that Nian Guang had appeared, he was still unreconciled, yet also knew that there were no words that would let him take back control. H coldly e said, “The Orthodoxy seems to really value this young one. They actually allowed someone like you, who has been wronged by the Orthodoxy Academy, to appear.”
Nian Guang frowned.
Ji Jin turned towards Chen Changsheng and Gou Hanshi and indifferently said, “These words and debate are ultimately meaningless. Your words may seem like a deluge of heavenly flowers, but they might turn out to be a pile of dog shit. Forty-four people from the Grand Examination entered the mausoleum this year. I would really like see who will be the first to comprehend this Reflecting Monolith in the end, and who will be able to comprehend the largest amount of them.”
Tonight, Gou Hanshi and Chen Changsheng had come to view the monoliths by lantern light, not to take part in a debate. They were also not terribly interested in who would be the first to comprehend the Heavenly Tome Monoliths. As a result, they did not respond to Ji Jin’s provocative and disdainful words, nor did they say anything. However, that did not mean all their peers had such a good temperament.
A bright and especially frivolous voice rose up from the mountain path.
“One hundred years ago, in place of the prior emperor, the Divine Empress ascended to the summit of the mausoleum to offer sacrifices to the heavens. As she carried out this task, she happened to see the monolith that had been set before the Mausoleum of Books, upon which were inscribed the names of those who had comprehended the Heavenly Tome Monoliths the fastest throughout history. This monolith displeased her, because to her, to view the Heavenly Tome Monoliths was to catch a glimpse of the Heavenly Dao. To decide who came first and last and then write these names on a list was extremely vulgar. Hence, she ordered Sir Zhou Tong to personally take up a hatchet and hack off the names on that monolith. I didn’t think that there would be someone who, despite remembering the actions of that year, would talk such nonsense here within the mausoleum tonight. Could it be that you resent the Empress’s decree? Or is that your ignorance has reached the extent where you fail to realize that your proposal profanes the Mausoleum of Books?”
Everyone knew about this piece of history. But truthfully speaking, while that ranking on the monolith was already no more, it existed within the hearts of all cultivators. No one could forget those once highly-placed names, such as Zhou Dufu, or His Holiness the Pope, or Wang Zhice. It was just as Ji Jin had said previously, nobody cared that the listing was no more. It was only that this person coming up from the mountain path did not care for their opinions and raised the Divine Empress’s decree up high. His pompous voice went so as far as to render everyone speechless. As for denouncing the Empress’s decree, who would dare?
Hearing this voice, Chen Changsheng shook his head. Gou Hanshi also recognized the voice and made a somewhat sour smile. The two retreated to the side. They knew that since that guy had arrived, seemingly ready to start a war of words, their turns would not come.
Ji Jin did not know who was coming, but his face became extremely gloomy and seemed about to start dripping with water. Zhong Hui and his two companions from Scholartree Manor also became extremely angry.
Along with the appearance of the youth, the dusky light emanating from the oil lantern on the tree abruptly got brighter. This was because the youth’s belt was inlaid with dozens of precious gems, and also because the sword sheath at his waist was also embedded with a gem. The gems shined with light, just like the youth’s handsome face.
The eyes of the senior from Holy Maiden Peak also lit up.
Tang Thirty-Six had arrived. He looked at the gloomy-faced Ji Jin and arched his brow. “Could it be that you believe my words are unreasonable? Then why don’t you go the Palace of Great Brilliance and ask the Divine Empress what she thinks?”
Nian Guang frowned. His disapproval evident, he declared, “Enough.”
When this virtuous and upstanding Monolith Guardian had previously spoken the words “Enough”, Gou Hanshi and Chen Changsheng had spoken no more, but Tang Thirty-Six was not that sort of person. In actuality, his brows leapt up even higher as he said, “Sir shouldn’t think about glossing things over, nor should he thinking about parading his seniority before me. This is the Mausoleum of Books. Fighting isn’t allowed, so why should I be scared of you?”
Nian Guang paused at these words.
Tang Thirty-Six turned back to Ji Jin. “Similarly, you can’t fight, let alone kill me. If I mock you with a few words, what can you do about it? Do you want to trade insults with me? Don’t think I’m as taciturn as Chen Changsheng, or a flowery-speaking hypocrite like Gou Hanshi. With regards to insulting others, you really aren’t my match. If you aren’t satisfied, you can have your disciples and grand-disciples bang a gong at my side tomorrow when I’m viewing the monoliths and comprehending the Dao and see if you can affect me the slightest bit. Did you really think I hadn’t prepared a pair of very comfortable, velvet earplugs?”