Chapter 222 – The Teenager who Embraced the Monolith
Seeing Chen Changsheng’s figure hurry down the mountain, Tang Thirty-Six had a sort of indescribable feeling. Zhexiu felt the same way, and on his normally expressionless face a hint of doubt could be seen. He silently thought to himself, could it be that Chen Changsheng was running away from something? But when he thought about all the storms that had brewed over the Orthodox Academy during this past year, no matter what he thought about. he could not imagine Chen Changsheng as that sort of person.
Gou Hanshi looked away from the mountain path, no longer concerning himself with Chen Changsheng’s plans. He spoke to his fellow disciples, “Last night, I only let you see a section of Senior Xun Mei’s notebook because I didn’t want all of you to be distracted. After you saw the notebook, all of you should have known that there are many angles through which one can comprehend the Heavenly Tome Monoliths. Then, what do you all think about all this?”
Guan Feibai thought it over before saying, “In Senior Xun Mei’s notebook, only for the Reflecting Monolith did he leave behind more than a dozen trains of thought. After looking over each one carefully, I have come to the conclusion that, in reality, they are all extremely reasonable. It’s just that my Mount Li Sword Sect is located in the south, so I’m used to taking the idea to stimulate the spiritual sense. With a bit more time, I will probably be able to comprehend this monolith.”
Qi Jian and Liang Banhu had the same opinion, but Gou Hanshi said, “If you can forget every one of those trains of thought, or so to say experiences, in Senior Xun Mei’s notebook, then maybe you’ll be able to comprehend the monolith.”
Once he finished speaking, he very naturally thought back to the conversation he had with Chen Changsheng last night. To him, Chen Changsheng had very clearly separated those concepts, otherwise he would not have chosen to search for the true meaning within the changes and attempt to open up a new idea. It was just that this sort of method for comprehending the monoliths was almost too new. To open a new path was really not an easy affair.
Guan Feibai and the others were somewhat shocked at his words, but after calming down and contemplating for a moment, they vaguely understood their senior’s meaning. They walked before the monolith hut and each found a place that was relatively flat to sit down. Then they stared at the black monolith and began to silently pour out all the words in Xun Mei’s notebooks onto the monolith, gradually expelling them from their minds. Zhexiu and Tang Thiry-Six glanced at each other, before also walking forward. Many of the students from the Grand Examination’s Three Banners, who had entered the mausoleum this year, also sat cross-legged in front of the monolith hut. Only Gou Hanshi remained standing in the distance, calmly and silently gazing at the distant mountains, his thoughts an enigma.
Time slowly passed, but the space in front of the monolith remained silent and soundless. At some point, someone removed the oil lantern from the tree. The newly lightened tree branch swayed lightly in the spring wind. From time to time, it would spring up a few inches towards the blue sky. Occasionally it would shed a leaf, which would flutter in the wind to land in front of the hut.
Qi Jian suddenly opened his eyes, brushed off the leaf that had landed on his slim shoulder, then stood up. After a moment’s hesitation, he walked over to the monolith hut.
As members of the group that lived in Xun Mei’s grass hut, they were the object of attention for all the students viewing the monoliths; otherwise, how would the name Grass Hut Seven have come about? In that quiet period of time, who knew how many gazes had, from time to time, glanced at those seven. Seeing that Qi Jian was seemingly moving to comprehend the monolith, the previously tranquil surroundings could not help but begin to buzz with activity again.
Zhong Hui was the first to comprehend the monolith, so many people wanted to know, who would be the second? The vast majority of people felt that the second person would be Gou Hanshi, because Chen Changsheng was not present. If not for him, then the next most likely person to succeed would likely be Zhexiu, or perhaps Guan Feibai or Liang Banhu, who had both cultivated for a relatively longer amount of time. No one thought it would actually be the still-young Qi Jian.
Qi Jian walked up to the Reflecting Monolith before glancing behind him, his young and tender face was filled with uncertainty.
Gou Hanshi stood under a distant pine tree. He said nothing, but a smile appeared on his face. This caused Qi Jian to also smile and the expression of uncertainty disappeared without a trace, leaving behind only happiness.
He took another step towards the Reflecting Monolith, before carefully placing his right hand on the edge of the monolith. He did not touch a single line on the surface of the monolith.
A cool breeze swept up from the cliff behind the monolith, brushing against Qi Jian which caused his hair to float lightly in the breeze. It flitted across his young and elegant face, and then he vanished.
The monolith hut grew deathly silent. The lively discussion that had just been taking place had vanished without a trace, just like Qi Jian’s petite form. Just like that, the second person to comprehend the Reflecting Monolith had appeared.
Before the onlookers had even awoken from their shock, Guan Feibai suddenly stood up and began to walk towards the monolith hut.
Compared to Qi Jian, this cold and arrogant Fourth Law of the Divine State was truly casual, even if what he faced was this hallowed Heavenly Tome Monolith.
He placed his right hand on the Reflecting Monolith, not even caring to glance at where it fell. It was as if he was randomly patting a railing, ready to discuss the day’s weather.
The cool breeze rose up again, and with another flash of bright light, his figure also disappeared.
All those people, who were still bitterly attempting to comprehend the true meaning of the monolith, were incomparably shocked by this development. They felt even more helpless as Liang Banhu also stood up and walked to the monolith hut. This peasant child, who kept the lowest profile and was the most taciturn of the Divine State’s Seven Laws, carefully tidied his clothes, clasped his hands in respect, and then very seriously placed his hand on the monolith’s surface.
Without a break, without an interval, these three Mount Li Sword Sect disciples, one after the other, comprehended the Reflecting Monolith and departed for the second Heavenly Tome Monolith.
After a moment of silence, several sighs arose from the front of the monolith hut. These sighs were full of admiration, and also disappointment.
Their talent in cultivating the Dao indeed was not the same.
The Mount Li Sword Sect indeed was exceptional.
Compared to Zhong Hui’s breakthrough that morning, the success of these three Mount Li Sword Sect Disciples did not cause much of a stir. Yet they also did not have a senior from their school protecting them, nor had they broken through into Ethereal Opening. They had just very ordinarily stood up, walked up to the hut, then before everyone’s eyes, disappeared. This was truly to act as freely as one wished.
Of the four disciples of the Mount Li Sword Sect that had entered the mausoleum, only Gou Hanshi remained. Many people subconsciously looked towards him and thought it quite strange. His level of cultivation and knowledge was far and above these three juniors. How could it be that his comprehension speed was slower? Some of them guessed at a reason, and when they saw Gou Hanshi finally leave the shade of the pine tree and walk towards the monolith, they felt that they guessed correctly.
Gou Hanshi walked in front of the Reflecting Monolith, yet he did not close his eyes in thought, nor did he examine those lines on the monolith. Gazing, as always, at the distant mountain, he placed his right hand on the monolith.
The cool breeze blew again. The birds in forest took flight, and with the fluttering of their wings, his figure had already ceased to be.
At this point, everyone there finally understood that Gou Hanshi had long ago comprehended the Reflecting Monolith. He had only been waiting for his three juniors to comprehend it too.
In other words, did it not mean that as he long as he wanted to, he could have very easily become the first this year to comprehend a monolith? They thought back to how, in the early morning after Zhong Hui had successfully comprehended the monolith, when those two Scholartree Manor students were so excited and proud, and they could not help but feel that it was now somewhat embarrassing. At this time, those two young Scholartree Manor scholars that still remained in front of the monolith truly did seem rather embarrassed.
The reason Gou Hanshi could comprehend the monolith but choose not to move on was because he was waiting for his fellow disciples. Then what about Chen Changsheng? Very naturally, they were drawn to this question. Was he like Gou Hanshi and had deciphered this Heavenly Tome Monolith long ago? If that were true, then who was he waiting for? Or was it as Zhong Hui had said, that he had insufficient skill to comprehend the monoliths?
Discussion gradually stirred, then gradually died down once more.
After not much time had passed, Zhuang Huanyu walked up to the monolith hut. As this year’s strongest student from the Heavenly Dao Academy, many people recognized him. It was just that for some reason, after he entered the Mausoleum of Books, he had disappeared. No one knew where he had gone, or what he had been doing. Even in the early morning when Zhong Hui was breaking through, he was nowhere to be seen. They could not help but feel surprised.
Zhuang Huanyu’s shirt was covered with grass and leaves, as if he had actually spent two nights out in the woods. He cut a somewhat sorry figure, but his expression was extremely calm and there was a sense of self-confidence about his appearance.
Tang Thirty-Six looked at him and asked, “You didn’t go to the Green Forest Dorm?”
The Six Ivies had always been in the capital, thus they were extremely close to the Mausoleum of Books and could obtain many conveniences. In the past few years, the Heavenly Dao Academy had been the most well-off of all the academies in the Zhou Dynasty, so naturally they would have made previous arrangements for their students in the mausoleum. The Green Forest Dorm was the dormitory for the Heavenly Dao Academy’s students within the mausoleum. The other academies, like the Temple Seminary and Star Seizer Academy, also had similar arrangements.
“I didn’t go to the Green Forest Dorm, because I had no time.”
Zhuang Huanyu brushed the dirt and leaves off of his body, before walking inside the monolith hut.
Tang Thirty-Six looked at his back and said, “Even if you succeed now, you can only be placed sixth. Is it really worth all the trouble?”
Zhuang Huanyu held his right hand in front of the monolith and said, “But at the very least, I’m still in front of Chen Changsheng, right?”
Saying this, he rested his right hand on the monolith.
Not long after, Su Moyu stood up and walked to the monolith hut, becoming the seventh person this year to succeed at comprehending the monoliths.
Seeing one person after another succeed, how could such a proud person as Tang Thirty-Six not feel nervous? Especially since Su Moyu had placed behind him in the Proclamation of Azure Sky, he became even more pressured.
After a moment, he sobered up, slightly frowned, then closed his eyes, no longer thinking about these matters. He sent his consciousness out of his body, not dwelling on the monolith. At some moments it even seemed like he had actually fallen asleep.
When he woke up, it was already twilight. The glow of the sunset suffused the sky and the mausoleum’s vibrant forest seemed to burn in the light.
He stood up and began to walk towards the monolith hut. As he passed Zhexiu, he said “Tell Chen Changsheng that he can start eating without me.”
He walked up to the monolith and happily laughed. He spread his arms wide then gave that ice-cold monolith a giant embrace.
To comprehend the Heavenly Tome Monoliths would give off a sort of indescribable feeling. To cultivators, this feeling was more delicious than dragon marrow, more fascinating than the stars. There was a sense of immense satisfaction, the so-called only after eating the marrow does one know the taste. The vast majority of cultivators, after comprehending the first monolith and arriving at the second, would lose themselves in the monoliths and forget the passage of time.
(TL Note: 食髓知味 is an idiom that translates to “Eating the marrow to know the taste”. It means that once one eats the bone marrow, it tastes so good that they want to immediately eat it again.)
Tang Thirty-Six knew that he was powerless to resist such intoxication. He knew that he would spend the night in the company of the stars embracing the second monolith until he fell asleep, thus he told Zhexiu to bring a message back to Chen Changsheng to eat without him. Just like him, Zhong Hui, Zhuang Huanyu, Qi Jian, and the rest were all sitting in front of the second monolith, not knowing how to even write the two words “go back”.
However, the world always would have people that stood out from the masses. The exceptionally gifted and strong-willed would never be confused by external forces.
Accompanied by the sunset, Gou Hanshi returned to the grass hut.
Smelling the fragrance of egg soup emanating from the kitchen and seeing Chen Changsheng sitting at the doorstep staring blankly at the setting sun, he asked, “Just what are you waiting for?”