Chapter 14: Spiritual Roots
Translator: Translation Nation/chuchutrain Editor: - -
Pei Zi Yun was momentarily blinded. He paused while walking and thought to himself, "This man is doing this to earn the favour of people!"
"The banquet was hosted by High Scholar Yue once every three years and he does not seem like the type of person who needs the affections of others. But he is also not very conservative. Looks like he just wants to do some good and earn some karma by helping these scholars achieve some fame, so they will be grateful to him."
The three of them were talking about meaningless topics in a private room downstairs. It seemed like the activity had shifted downstairs as well where there were many people around. Pei Zi Yun was just about to ask about Ma Ji.
Ma Ji would obtain his High Scholar status in a few years, why was there a conflict between the three of them and him?
At this point, a commotion could be heard happening outside. Pei Zi Yun frowned as he looked back and saw a Daoist seated on a table in the restaurant. He was dressed in a starched and faded traditional Daoist costume. There were few empty bowls on the table, apparently finished by him. The Daoist was still holding onto a pot of wine and was drinking deeply from it. A waiter stood at his side at shouted, "You have ordered the best meat and wine in the restaurant and when I asked nicely for payment you have the audacity to tell me you are broke? I should beat you up and kick you out. But we, at River Reflections, are particular about reputation, so how can I assault you?"
"You look fully able bodied, then you should go and find work that pays you. How can you be such a bum and live off the charity of other people?"
Students began to rush down the stairs to see what the commotion was all about and realized it was just a Daoist trying to get a free meal. At least the waiter had manners and did not resort to violence, but scolded him instead.
Pei Zi Yun glanced at the Daoist and noticed that his clothes were full of dust and dirt and were tattered and torn. The few bowls of dishes on the table had been eaten clean. This made him think back about the hardships of his previous life and it tugged on his heartstrings. Before he realized it, he had already stepped forward.
It was clear that the Daoist had no regard for the waiter whatsoever. As the waiter was speaking to him, he was playing with his earlobes and digging his ear. This made the waiter even more desperate as he wanted to report the matter to the owner. Suddenly everyone noticed a scholar stepping forward and asking, "How much does this man owe? I shall settle the bill for him."
The waiter was glad that someone had stepped forward to pay the bill. He counted and said, "This Daoist had eaten some premium beef belly, steamed giant crab, a portion of perfectly stuffed chicken, a portion of black boned chicken, a few portions of lamb meat and 3 pots of aged wine. The total bill is one silver tael."
"One silver tael?" Pei Zi Yun upon hearing the final amount felt a certain pain at the loss. Silver is rare in this world. One silver tael, if used thriftily can last an entire family in the village one year. He bit the bullet and forked out one silver tael to pay. This Daoist had initially thought he could get a free meal just by not paying. Never would he have expected someone to pay for him. He was shocked. His three friends too were stumped. They did not know what to make of this situation.
The three levels above were still packing and cleaning up, while the fourth level was completely quiet. Zhang Jia Yu walked up and saw two men guarding. As he approached, they made way for him.
As soon as Zhang Jia Yu reached, he saw a vermillion painted pillar before him and a half opened door. A semi transparent screen and a bookshelf were in his vision as well. Then, he heard Yue Qiu Shan's voice coming from within, "Is that my nephew? Come on in and talk to me."
"Coming!" Zhang Jia Yu replied. As soon as he stepped into the room he saw Yue Qiu Shan seated on a huge sculpted teacher's seat. Not far away was seated a man on a small wooden stool, he looked to be not older than forty and was dressed impeccably and had a refined and scholarly look to him. However, he was flushed red from alcohol and was giggling.
He clasped his hands together and greeted both of them, "Uncle. Mr Li."
Mr Li continued chuckling in acknowledgement. It seems like Mr Li was somebody prominent as he was copying down a poem and filling in the namelist. He was sorting the names on the name lists and said, "Fellow brother, most of the candidates who will soon be Elementary Scholars were present at your banquet!"
Just as Zhang Jia Yu was about to enquire further, Yue Qiu Shan scrutinized the list further and said, "Wen Jing, cancel out those candidates with good family background and rich ancestry for they would have already developed a huge egos. We are unable to touch those."
Li Wen Jing looked like he had been prepared for this and immediately tore away a piece of paper from the list. Yue Qiu Shan touched his brows briefly and looked deep in thought. He then continued, "Also cancel out those who are popular and famous, for they would attract unwanted attention."
He then sighed and said, "We, of Holy Jail Sect, are unlike those mercenaries. Only mercenaries are not picky with their disciples and pass their knowledge and skills to anyone. In these times, which sect would not choose from a pool of Elementary Scholars that are intelligent and quick?"
"It's just that those with rich ancestries who have already been tainted by their pride and egos, we cannot recruit. And those who are famous and of repute would draw too much attention, and thus we should not recruit."
"And those scholars who fall to the bottom of the standard are limited in their intelligence and of little use, so we shall not recruit as well."
"Apart from these people, we should recruit from the middle ten. But as of now we still cannot be sure who these people are. We have to wait for the exams to conclude and the results to be out before we pick from the pool of Elementary Scholars."
Zhang Yu Jia knew that this was said for him to hear and that he had met the criteria mentioned. Going by the rules of the sect, he immediately acknowledged, "Teacher!"
Yue Qiu Shan continued, "These people who shall be joining our sect shall be your future fellow brothers."
"In the future, matters like this will eventually come under your charge. You should not feel like it's a waste of time. Clearly Holy Jail Sect is not a mountain of gold or silver. When in the city, try as far as possible not to use your Dao Arts so that you will not offend the heavens and incite your ego. Alas, we are not common people, and prospering the estate should be relatively easy. So do not feel upset about the money spent on the banquet."
"Once you've entered Holy Jail Sect, or any sect for that matter, being an Elementary Scholar or High Scholar would be the highest you can go. And you shall not become a government official. This is something you have to know and understand."
The weather condition outside changed abruptly. What was initially a sunny day started to turn windy as the clouds amassed, making everything around seem dark and gloomy. The windchimes started to ring as a gust of wind blew. Zhang Yu Jia then said, "This I am aware. Once someone becomes a government official, his ego will ruin the Dao Energy and he will be unable to attain enlightenment.
Li Wen Jing was looking through the namelist as he joked, "It is good that you know. But if you do manage to become a True Sovereign, anything under the heavens and even human relationships will be solved by just looking down. But then you would not be able to look up!"
Zhang Jia Yu then forced a laugh and said, "Senior uncle, please do not joke with me."
It was evident that Li Wen Jing was a drunkard, whose Dao Arts were substandard. However everything else about him was capable and competent. All his businesses were being run by his employees, and he had quite a high standing. Zhang Jia Yun laughed before pausing to ask, "Is Pei Zi Yun in the namelist? I noticed he had a flair for literature. And he does not strike me as too egoistic."
Yue Qiu Shan immediately looked at him before casting his glance down to his tea and said, "I was just about to speak of him. Our Holy Jail Sect has this little technique we use to predict someone's fortunes and fate. If you are able to tell, you would have displayed maturity."
"A person's fate changes multiple times over the progression of his life, yet is not something that can be pursued and also not something you can take as a reward. Pei Zi Yun's appearances and personalities are not prominent, yet he has strong ancestry ties. With some luck, he will eventually become an Elementary Scholar, but even then, probably not this year."
"But as his wisdom nurtures, he will gradually understand more. This is the life of a scholar, to understand reason."Yue Qiu Shan seemed like he had some misgivings and said, "It looks like knowledge is timeless, and as for the upcoming examinations, let's just say it can change fates."
"You know as well that half of these views regarding Holy Jail Sect and life on Earth are a big blur. And in order to overcome this obstacle we have to break through this shroud of ignorance. How easy do you think that is?" said Yue Qiu Shan as he broke into laughter and continued, "Someone like him, you can test, but do not pin your hopes on him."
Zhang Jia Yu seemed like he had a thought and said, "What teacher is saying is that, people like him have a high variance of change, and might not necessarily provide advantage to the sect, which is why I should not have too much hope in him?"
"Your understanding is correct. If it were a few years earlier, the sect might have taken him. But now, we have already worn out shoes and reached the shore. For people like him who will change many times in their lives, they will have lots to catch up on."
Zhang Jia Yu finally understood and said, "I get it now."
They four of them went back to their inn and said their farewells.
Pei Zi Yun was a little tipsy. When the three of them saw Pei Zi Yun attaining third place at the banquet and thus proving themselves to the group of scholars who taunted them, they were elated and plied him with wine. The wine was strong, and the effects kicked in only much later. He had felt fine while they were drinking. But half an hour later when he reached his room he was rather drunk.
The servants of the hotel then boiled a large tub of water and delivered it to his room. After he had taken his shower, he lay on the bed to rest and thought, "At last, some time to myself."
It seems like when he had met the Daoist and paid for him, he was reminded of how he had learnt the Dao Arts back in his previous life. He found it strange that he always forgot this important fact, and thus wanted to be alone to cultivate. However, he was dragged by three of them and could not spend time alone. The three of them were already significantly tipsy from the alcohol, and thus, wasted some time before he was finally alone again.
At this point, the effects of the wine had somewhat receded. Although he should not be cultivating the Dao Arts when on alcohol, he figured it was harmless if he just tried. At this point, he recalled the memories from the original owner and thought, "The original owner had lost his chance to Zhao Ning. But he had some luck, and managed to obtain the diary of a mercenary, and found that it had been the host to knowledge, teaching him invaluable lessons."
"Although the content in the diary was very basic, it had its uses. If anyone had a little spiritual ability, he would immediately feel inspired by the content. It would not be the most effective way of learning, but it can at least lay the foundation, and determine how fast or slow your skills pick up. When the original owner had eventually been admitted into Free Cloud Sect, he was evaluated based on the traditional foundations and then learnt subsequently the arts of the sect.
"I shall try this method."
Pei Zi Yun then sat down and followed the descriptions of the Dao Arts. He held onto the book as he cultivated. The original had managed to master the arts in a very short time, and so as he practiced he thought it would be easy.
After some time, Pei Zi Yun had achieved nothing. Wearing just a thin cloth over his body, he looked out at the window, and randomly pulled out a book. He flipped a couple of pages only to find it uninteresting. He was frowning and thinking to himself, "This technique, even a normal person with a little bit of spiritual sense would be able to cultivate, just at a very slow rate. Why can't he achieve anything? Even in his past life he managed it in just three hours, and he was completely useless. Unless when this body changed its soul, he had lost it?"
Pei Zi Yun was puzzled, when suddenly there was a light emitted from the Plum Blossom between his brows and a notification was received. Pei Zi Yun then understood the reason, "The original owner no longer had the spiritual roots, and thus could not bring it into this body. True sovereign Xie's moves were vicious, and in order to ensure the original owner would not be able to ever cultivate his Dao Arts, he even took his spiritual roots away.
"At the present, although the Plum Blossom exists, this body has already lost the roots, and thus new roots needs to be found."
"It's no wonder the attempts at cultivating were futile. And these past few days I've been forgetting about it."
"If I wish to cultivate, I would have to find another legacy created by a cultivator to repair the damage. This legacy would have to contain the cultivator's spiritual roots, just a little would suffice."
As he thought about this, a small white plum blossom floated into his vision as it turned into an information interface. It was transparent and faint as a new mission showed up.
"Mission 1: Rescue Ye Su'er (Completed)
"Mission 2: Attain Elementary Scholar status (Incomplete)
"Mission 3: Obtain a legacy created by a Daoist Cultivator (Incomplete)
As he looked closely at the screen, he realized what the new mission was. Pei Zi Yun was in a dilemma as to how to complete the latest objective. Since he was not a Daoist cultivator, how would he ever get into contact with other cultivators, and how would he obtain a legacy from them?
Pei Zi Yun lay on the bed facing the ceiling, deep in thoughts. After some time, he finally said, "Forget it. The examinations are coming soon, I shall obtain my Elementary Scholar status first before thinking about other matters."