Chapter 226 – The Broken Monolith
“Fourteen years without cultivation, only reading, then only one year was needed to break into Ethereal Opening. Twenty days without comprehending the monoliths, only calmly sitting… then in one day he saw and comprehended all the monoliths in the entire front mausoleum.”
After the Pope had learned of what had happened in the mausoleum, he delivered these two lines of commentary on Chen Changsheng. Assisted by several powerful figures within the Orthodoxy, these two lines of commentary, like the glow of the sunset, quickly spread throughout the capital. The shocked populace once again looked to the south, towards the Mausoleum of Books, with every kind of emotion.
The last time someone had been able to view all the monoliths of the front mausoleum in a single day was countless years ago, and that man was Zhou Dufu. Today, Chen Changsheng had performed the same deed. Did that mean that he was the second coming of Zhou Dufu? Yet there was a certain incomprehensible matter that some people took note of. According the news that had come out of the Mausoleum of Books, Chen Changsheng’s cultivation did not change as he viewed the monoliths. He still remained at the initial stage of Ethereal Opening. It must be known that the year that Zhou Dufu rambled about in the mausoleum, whenever his eyes rested on a monolith and his foot entered a hut, his cultivation would incessantly change. To take what those who had entered the mausoleum just this year had said, even Scholartree Manor’s Zhong Hui had broken through into Ethereal Opening. There were also many people like Tang Thirty-Six who could see the possibility of breaking through. Logically, after Chen Changsheng had finished viewing seventeen monoliths, as a matter of course, he should have obtained some sort of enlightenment. Even if he did not break through into a completely new realm, he should still have received some benefit.
Priest Xin supported Archbishop Mei Lisha to the Li Palace. After paying homage to the Pope, Mei Lisha brought up the discussion currently spreading around the capital. After a moment’s hesitation he also added, “There are many people who are suspicious. They believe that perhaps Chen Changsheng used some sort of trick, or even that we in the Orthodoxy taken some sort of action in the Mausoleum of Books.”
“Enlightenment is enlightenment. Comprehending the monoliths has always depended on the cultivation of the individual cultivator. No one is able to really change that.”
The Pope took up a wooden ladle and began watering the Green Leaf as he spoke. “I don’t believe that child will have the chance to catch up Zhou Dufu’s performance that year. After all, it requires extraordinary courage, as well as the right temperament. His performance is already outstanding and I am quite satisfied, one could even say that I’m surprised.”
Mei Lisha responded, “What I most want to know is what his response will be when he sees that last monolith. Will he be as shocked and surprised as we were by his actions today?”
The Pope’s wooden ladle hovered above the Green Leaf, slightly tilted, as if he were thinking about something and had gotten lost in thought. Miraculously, not a drop of water spilled from the ladle.
Priest Xin stood startled at one side, uncomprehendingly wondering, Chen Changsheng had already deciphered all seventeen monoliths of the front mausoleum, how could there be one more?
The Pope shook his head and resumed watering. “Even if he does see it, don’t tell me he’ll be able to decipher it as well?”
Mei Lisha smiled. “That child has already amazed us so many times. To do so one more time is not that unthinkable.”
In the crimson twilight, the Dew Platform seemed to be ablaze, as if it were a massive torch. The Divine Empress stood at the edge of the platform, her hands clasped behind her back, as she looked towards the Mausoleum of Books. On her indifferent expression appeared a trace of ridicule. “They both viewed the entire front mausoleum in one day, but that year Zhou Dufu actually understood the monoliths. Chen Changsheng is still far away from comparing to him.”
Of the people living on the continent today, only she and the Pope could be considered to have actually met Zhou Dufu. They could even be considered acquaintances. Only they understood the terrifying degree of strength that the continent’s strongest cultivator had held, so they believed it was simply impossible for Chen Changsheng’s name to even be said in the same sentence as that man.
Mo Yu stood behind her and could not help but say, “But viewing seventeen monoliths in one day can already be considered rather extraordinary. At the very least, it’s much better than my performance.”
The Divine Empress did not turn around. She continued to gaze at the Mausoleum of Books, remembering all those aged and white-haired cultivators that, since ancient times, had viewed the monoliths, and the sense of derision about her grew increasingly more distinct. “In the end, why is it that cultivators view the monoliths? Why is it that some people never understand that viewing the monoliths is not the purpose of cultivating the Dao, but a method for cultivating the Dao?”
“When Empress ordered the rankings to be destroyed that year, it was to teach the people of the world to not go astray. It is a pity that no one understood the Empress’s labors.” Mo Yu softly said.
“Yes, if one’s cultivation or enlightenment in the Dao has not advanced, then even if one comprehended every monolith in the mausoleum, what use would it be? That year when I ordered Zhou Tong to destroy that ranking in front of the mausoleum. Many of those old fools in the Orthodoxy came to me weeping tears saying that I wasn’t respecting the ancestors. Now that I think of it, I should have had that lot of senile fools killed.”
The Divine Empress continued indifferently, “Even if the Heavenly Tome Monoliths are sacred objects, it is only when they are used by the people do they actually have meaning. True, Chen Changsheng’s speed in comprehending the monoliths was certainly faster than yours, but that year in the mausoleum you succeeded in entering the Star Condensation realm. And him? Even if he comprehended every last one of the Heavenly Tome Monoliths, if none of it did anything for his cultivation, then it isn’t worth a damn thing.”
These words had come up twice and they held the same meaning, but the first was for the cultivators of the world, while the second was aimed directly at Chen Changsheng.
Mo Yu was alarmed, but then smiled. So even the Divine Empress could use such vulgar language, she thought to herself. It would seem that Chen Changsheng’s performance in the mausoleum still caused the Empress to be somewhat vigilant.
Of course, what she was wary of was not Chen Changsheng himself, but the Orthodoxy who stood behind him.
Mo Yu did not conceal her emotions. This was why she had been able to earn the favor and dotage of the Empress.
She opened her large eyes and asked curiously, “Then in Empress’s view…will Chen Changsheng have a chance?”
The Divine Empress contemplated the Mausoleum of Books in silence, then said, “Perhaps if he is able to view that final monolith, only…he is too unflustered, yet so young. He gives off the unlikeable scent of sour decay, completely unlike the Zhou Dufu of that year. He was as glorious as the morning sun, as vigorous as a hurricane. He would berate the heavens and curse the earth, all to ask a single question.”
Mo Yu slightly frowned. She always felt that whenever the Empress brought up that peerless expert, her mood would seemingly become unsteady.
“To cultivate the Dao is to cultivate the heart. One’s nature determines one’s fate, and it will also decide how far one is able to walk in the Dao.”
The Divine Empress announced her final conclusion. “Chen Changsheng…is not able.”
After comprehending the seventeenth monolith, Chen Changsheng arrived at a lush and verdant meadow.
In the twilight, the entire Mausoleum of Books seemed to be on fire, this meadow being no exception. An intangible wildfire rolled across the meadow, creating a breathtaking scene.
From the cliff under the meadow came the rumbling of water. He realized that he had arrived at the southwest face of the mausoleum, where that waterfall originated.
The wind from the cliffs carried up a mist of water, which landed on his face. It was a little wet and a little cold, but it washed away his exhaustion.
He thought back to today’s course of events. Although there were some places where he was not satisfied, he could not but feel somewhat happy, to think that he was pretty good.
Suddenly, he felt something, and the cheer on his face gradually retreated to be replaced with confusion.
He turned around, and saw that, in the meadow, under a white cliff, was another monolith hut.
He had deciphered the seventeen monoliths of the front mausoleum, so according to the records of the Daoist Canon, he should have been sent to the next mausoleum.
But this was definitely still the front mausoleum.
The structure of that monolith hut was no different than that of the Reflecting Monolith or the River Guiding Monolith.
Chen Changsheng was rather surprised. Could there possibly be another Heavenly Tome Monolith in the front mausoleum?
Front mausoleum of the Mausoleum of Books had seventeen monoliths. This was a fact that everyone knew. Unless someone had been concealing this fact, but who would conceal it? Chen Changsheng suddenly remembered when he was studying the Daoist Classics back in Xining Village, with regards to the world’s way of speaking, at the very beginning the Mausoleum of Books did not have any sort of front or back mausoleum.
Standing amidst the blazing meadow, he did not hesitate for long. He stepped forward and began walking towards the monolith hut. As he broke through the weeds, it was as if he was stamping out the fire, or a fishing boat rowing through a river as thousands of fish scales gleamed in the light.
Walking in front of the monolith hut, he stopped and looked in. What he saw was a scene he could never have imagined, and could not help but stare.
This monolith hut had no Heavenly Tome Monolith. To be more precise, this monolith hut once had a Heavenly Tome Monolith, but now that monolith had disappeared without a trace, only leaving a pedestal. On this pedestal was a somewhat conspicuous protrusion of spoiled stone, about half a palm wide and very short. Perhaps it was all that remained of the Heavenly Tome Monolith?
Chen Changsheng’s body became as incredibly rigid. The previous joy and relaxation had long since been replaced by shock and surprise.
The front mausoleum of the Mausoleum of Book actually had eighteen monoliths. This was already surprising already. Yet what was even more unfathomable was that the last monolith was actually this broken monolith!
He stood in front of the monolith hut in a daze for a very long time, then gradually was able to collect his wits and suppress that fierce shock and unease. He walked up to that broken monolith and realized that on this small chunk, there were no lines or characters. In other words, the monolith inscriptions were all on the piece of the monolith that had been broken off.
He rubbed the surface of that broken monolith, feeling the hardness of the monolith stone, how after countless years of wind and snow, its edges still remained as sharp as ever. An expression of frustration slowly grew on his face.
This monolith had clearly been broken by some extremely great power.
In the beginning, when the Heavenly Tome Monoliths fell to the earth, the base of the monoliths began to grow roots that connected them deep into the earth on their own.
In the three thousand classics of the Daoist Canons, amongst countless stories, there was not a single one that said that the Heavenly Tome Monoliths could be broken and carried out of the mausoleum.
Then where did this power come from to be powerful enough to break this Heavenly Tome Monolith?
If it was a human, then who was this human?
How did that person do it?
Where did he take that piece of the Heavenly Tome Monolith?
Chen Changsheng looked around in frustration at the blazing meadow.
The twilight deepened and the night seeped in. The mountain winds gradually became colder.
He felt somewhat chilly.
The joy and satisfaction he felt had long since departed. The shock from seeing the broken monolith had also vanished without a trace.
His mind had already become somewhat numb.
His heart was filled with boundless reverence and even fear.
Is that what real power was like?
The Mausoleum of Books became shrouded in darkness.
Along with the disappearance of the last rays of sunset, the stars in the sky once again occupied the sky as well as the eyes of man.
Chen Changsheng stood outside the monolith hut, staring motionlessly at the starry sky.
He remained in this position for a very long time.
He had been accompanied by that shadow for so many years, that in the end, he was no ordinary youth.
Although he had not reached the point where he was able to laugh in the face of death, but after using so much time, an even stronger power would be unable to affect his mind.
He turned around and walked into the monolith hut, and once again stood before the broken monolith.