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Chapter 219 - How Much Do You Know About the Past? (Part Two)
This set of words was very coarse and the logic behind them was rather crude as well, yet like a stone, it was rather sturdy and impossible to rebut. The Mausoleum of Books was this sort of special place. If you did not care for seniority, if you feared no man, then in this place you need not fear any man. Before the Heavenly Tome Monoliths, everyone was equal.
Ji Jin’s body trembled with rage. With a trembling voice he said, “Very good, very good, and what family are you from, that you would actually dare…”
“You want to know of my origin, so that you can get people outside of the mausoleum take care of me?”
Without the slightest bit of concern on his face, Tang Thirty-Six declared, “I am the sole grandson of the Wenshui Tangs. If the Scholartree Manor is willing to offend my esteemed grandfather, then they are welcome to try.”
No one was willing to offend the Wenshui Tangs, even the Divine Empress treated that lonely, upright old man with the most delicate care. At most, she would scold him as pedantic and stubborn. This was because the Tangs had a thousand years’ worth of hidden reserves, because the Tangs had dreadful strategies and techniques, and most importantly, because the Tangs were rich. Very rich.
Now that Ji Jin knew Tang Thirty-Six’s identity, his complexion became ashen and the sleeves of his robe trembled. He truly had no means of getting back at him. Of course, he could flaunt the rules of the Mausoleum of Books and directly discipline Tang Thirty-Six, but that would mean that he would no longer be able to stay in the mausoleum. As a Monolith Guardian, the penalties he suffered were even more severe.
Ever since he had joined the Orthodox Academy, Tang Thirty-Six had oftentimes appeared rather insolent, his mouth filled with curses. In reality, this was only the rebellious nature of young men, and also made up for the unflustered nature of Chen Changsheng. Yet how could the scion of a great family such as his be lacking in wisdom? Quit while you are ahead! Tang Thirty-Six practiced these four words more than anyone else. He walked over to the front of the monolith hut, and without pause took Chen Changsheng’s hand and began to walk back down the mountain path, out of the mausoleum. As they walked back down, he mumbled, “Look at you what you’ve done. When you argue, you can’t even out-argue someone, you’re really bringing shame to our Orthodox Academy.”
Gou Hanshi gave a bitter laugh as he shook his head. He paid his respects to Mister Nian Guang to take leave, then followed the pair down the mountain.
The people around the monolith hut looked at each other in dismay. The light of the oil lantern hung on the tree grew increasingly dim. It was as if the nothing had happened here.
From the mountain path, they made their way into the forests around the mausoleum. Jumping over the canal that sided the main path, they ended up in the orange grove. The darkness made the forest rather gloomy, but tonight the stars seemed to shine extremely bright, somewhat diminishing this feeling. Chen Changsheng looked at Tang Thirty-Six’s glistening belt and asked, “Why are you so bedecked with jewels and carrying the air of wealth with you tonight?”
“In Wenshui, you only tell someone they have an air of wealth about them if you want to quarrel. In the future please don’t describe me with such words.” Tang Thirty-Six remonstrated him, then explained, “I woke up in the middle of the night and realized that the two of you weren’t there, so I came out to look for you two. I was in such a rush to leave that I randomly grabbed a belt from my bag. There was no time to figure out if it matched or not.”
Chen Changsheng earnestly replied, “Luckily you didn’t recklessly grab that fur skin, otherwise you might have been mistaken for a bear back at the mausoleum.”
Tang Thirty-Six clicked his tongue. “So it turns out that you do know how to mock and ridicule, then back there why were you such a quai;? Or is it that you only know how to do it to your own side?”
Chen Changsheng shook his head. He truly could not continue this. He turned his thoughts to that pair of incidents, which had occurred at dawn and in the night. Perplexed, he asked “Why is it that Senior Ji Jin took such actions?”
“Before, people believed that it was the Pope His Eminence and the other elders only wanted to use you to revive the Orthodox Academy, but after the Grand Examination, they realized that His Holiness also valued you. Those loyal to the Divine Empress naturally became nervous. The southern sects never accepted the rule of Li Palace, so they were persuaded by those people to suppress you. It’s a very common occurrence.”
When Tang Thirty-Six mentioned the southern sects, he shot a glance at Gou Hanshi.
Gou Hanshi smiled, but did not add anything.
Chen Changsheng thought it over, then said, “Perhaps that is the reason, but senior Ji Jin’s mood was clearly unsettled.”
Tang Thirty-Six answered, “Then I don’t know.”
“Not all Monolith Guardians can have hearts as placid as still water. Even if they managed to do so when they first entered the mausoleum, as time passes and their cultivation ceases to progress, some Monolith Guardians will inevitably begin to feel remorse. They feel constrained by their past vows and the strictures of the Mausoleum of Books. They dare not leave, but it is very easy for their minds to start developing problems.”
Gou Hanshi continued, “To add on to my own opinion, perhaps Ji Jin felt that Xun Mei was extremely likely to become a Monolith Guardian, but then Xun Mei unexpectedly undertook that decisive and valorous course of action last night. In the end, his soul returned to the sea of stars, which can also be considered departing the Mausoleum of Books. Although this really has very little to do with us, he feels that it does. Inevitably he chose to vent his frustrations on us.”
Chen Changsheng had wanted to ask, if Ji Jin did not want to stay in the mausoleum as a Monolith Guardian any longer, then he should have been happy that senior Xun Mei was able to leave the mausoleum and did not take up the role as Monolith Guardian? Why did it engender such strong resentment instead? He suddenly realized that this was one of those sorrowful questions of human nature and could not help but shake his head.
Tang Thirty-Six added, “It’s always been said that Monolith Guardians of the Mausoleum of Books have always been somewhat abnormal and unlikeable, but if you examine it more closely, these rules are abnormal in themselves.
Chen Changsheng agreed. “It’s true that they are somewhat inhumane, but I really don’t know how they thought them up.”
Gou Hanshi replied, “The Heavenly Tome Monoliths are truly too alluring for cultivators. In addition, the Monolith Guardians occupy a special position within the Mausoleum of Books. Every year, the disciples from the sects enter the mausoleum and attempt to win their support. That Mister Nian Guang has also, very clearly, been urged to act by some powerful figure within the Orthodoxy, causing him to appear to play mediator.”
Tang Thirty-Six replied, “It should be this way, but I don’t trust Nian Guang.”
Chen Changsheng recalled that Tang Thirty-Six had been extremely disrespectful to that virtuous and upstanding senior. “Why?” he asked, rather puzzled.
Tang Thirty-Six replied, “Mister Nian Guang came from the Temple Seminary. In the past, some genius from the Orthodox Academy dealt him a bitter blow. In his rage, he swore the blood oath to become a Monolith Guardian. You are the hope for the revival of the Orthodox Academy, so how can he sincerely care for your well-being?”
To Chen Changsheng, the Orthodox Academy was an old, declining, and broken-down park, a cold and cheerless set of ruins. It was simply impossible to picture this sort of historical scene.
“Was the Orthodox Academy very arrogant back then?”
Tang Thirty-Six shot another glance at Gou Hanshi before saying, “It was even more arrogant than the current Mount Li Sword Sect.”
Gou Hanshi did not reply. He did not think that the Mount Li Sect was arrogant, but he tacitly agreed with a similar interpretation.
After a moment of silence, Tang Thirty-Six added, “Though those incomparably arrogant geniuses are all dead now.”
At these words, Chen Changsheng became rather perplexed. After a moment, he thought of a matter and asked Gou Hanshi, “Does the Mausoleum of Books have any Monolith Guardians that came from Mount Li?”
“In the past there were, but then Martial Granduncle broke into the mausoleum, gave a tongue-lashing to those two seniors, then took them back to Mount Li.”
Chen Changsheng was completely taken aback. There was actually someone who so flagrantly disregarded the rules of the mausoleum, he thought to himself. Was the Martial Granduncle he mentioned Mount Li’s legendary Junior Martial Uncle?
Tang Thirty-Six’s expression did not change. Clearly he had heard this story before.
Chen Changshang curiously asked, “And those two seniors? They didn’t receive any sort of punishment?”
Gou Hanshi, replied, “Those two seniors are now elders of Mount Li’s disciplinary hall.”
Tang Thirty-Six, “Haven’t you heard the phrase, whoever’s sword is fastest, whoever’s rules are followed.”
What Chen Changsheng was even more interested in was the words the Mount Li’s Junior Martial Uncle had used to scold his two fellow sect members.
Gou Hanshi replied, “Martial Granduncle said that they couldn’t waste their limited lives on unlimited trifling matters.”
“Trifling matters?” Chen Changsheng questioned.
“Yes, Martial Granduncle always believed that cultivation was a trifling matter.”
Chen Changsheng had nothing to say to these words.
As he thought about that legendary Junior Martial Uncle more, he suddenly felt like the weight on his shoulders had become much heavier, as if a shadow had covered up the starry sky.
In the Mausoleum of Books, they lived with the Mount Li Sword Sect under one roof, but that did not mean that their enemies would suddenly become friends. Gou Hanshi’s calm and gentle manner symbolized nothing. It was more similar to Guan Feibai and Qi Jian, who both clearly resented the Orthodox Academy, and the reason for this resentment was the name Qiushan Jun, dividing the two sides and ending all hopes of reconciliation.
When they arrived at the grass hut and walked past the fence, Gou Hanshu suddenly turned to Tang Thirty-Six and said, “I am not a noble man.”
Chen Changsheng was at a loss for words as Tang Thirty-Six’s eyebrows leapt up. He spread out his hands and said, “You’re the one that said it, not me.”
Gou Hanshi calmly and firmly continued, “So, it is impossible for me to be a hypocrite.”
TL: Basically, 君子 is a nobleman, but 伪君子 is a hypocrite. They are antonyms in Chinese
After a moment of silence, Tang Thirty-Six asked, “And then?”
Gou Hanshi smiled. “The next time you call me a hypocrite, I’m going to beat you up.”
On the next day at five in the morning, Chen Changsheng woke up on schedule. He went to the kitchen and cooked up a large pot of porridge, ate two bowls, but did not go to view the monoliths. Instead, he took up Xun Mei’s notebook and began to read it with the morning light. In his right he held a brush, which he used to incessantly write on a piece of paper. Yet he did not know exactly what he was writing, but at the very least they were not words.
The youths in the grass hut began to wake up, one after the other. After they ate some porridge, they set off for the mausoleum. Before Gou Hanshi took off, he made sure to greet Chen Changsheng. As Guan Feibai was leaving, he told Chen Changsheng, “Don’t think that if you make food for me every day, that I’ll become your acquaintance.” Qi Jian somewhat nervously said, “I’ll become your acquaintance, but I won’t be your friend.” Chen Changsheng chuckled and asked why. Qi Jian said it was because eldest brother would not like that. Tang Thirty-Six had woken up long ago, but he delayed until he was the last to leave. Under Chen Changsheng’s inquisitive gaze, he very solemnly said, “It’s absolutely not because I’m afraid Gou Hanshi is going to beat me up.”
Then to Chen Changsheng’s surprise, after not much time had passed, Tang Thirty-Six returned to the grass hut, his face grim, and dragged Chen Changsheng outside.
“Zhong Hui…is breaking into the next Realm.”
The front of the monolith hut was already crowded with people, forming a dense mass. Chen Changsheng took a cursory glance and estimated that there were nearly a hundred people here. Around forty of them were this year’s Grand Examination examinees, five were white-robed Monolith Guardians, and the rest were those who had entered to view monoliths in the past and never left the Mausoleum of Books. In the previous two days, those people were all at different monoliths huts individually cultivating, not interacting with the new entrants. Yet now, they all suddenly showed up in front of the Reflecting Monolith. Unexpectedly they had known that something big was about to occur.
Zhong Hui sat cross-legged in front of the monolith hut, his eyes closed, his body pervaded with mist.
Ji Jin stood expressionlessly behind him, obviously watching over him. Yet for some reason, this Scholartree Manor senior, with a profound cultivation, was very pale-faced today. It was almost as he had consumed a great quantity of true essence.
Chen Changsheng brow creased as he faintly guessed what had occurred.
Suddenly, the gurgling sound of water arose from the front of the monolith hut.
There was no waterfall or spring here. This sound came from Zhong Hui’s body.
The sounds of water grew increasingly louder, as if it was about to boil over.
During the Grand Examination, Chen Changsheng had experienced something similar in the Tower of Purging Dust. He knew that this was the prelude to breaking into the realm of Ethereal Opening.
He did not look at Zhong Hui, but at Ji Jin instead.
In one night’s time, Zhong Hui had crossed the threshold into Ethereal Opening. There must be a reason, and Ji Jin’s pale complexion was most likely a result of this.
At this time, Ji Jin turned to him, his eyes cold and full of contempt.