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 Chapter 74: The Great Learning

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Pei Zi Yun looked at the gift before him and took a sip of his tea. He then asked plainly, "Another person has sent a gift for me?"

The butler was a stocky and dark man, who treated Pei Zi Yun with utmost respect. He answered carefully, "Yes, and there's a note on it as well."

He then handed the note over reverently to Pei Zi Yun, who took a look at the note, "In order to create a reputation for myself, if I wanted to pursue my studies and become a Grand Scholar, I would have to limit my social interactions."

Becoming a Daoist would naturally imply that he would not be able to advance in his studies. However, as long as nobody knew about it, it could still be done.

The past few days have seen talk all over the capital and An Prefecture about the appearance of a literary genius. Ever since Pei Zi Yun composed the wondrous poem, many students penned the exact poem down in order to immortalize it. In the words of a famous poet, Zhang Anzhi, this poem seemed like it was written by a deity himself. A piece like this was only seen once every hundreds of years.

Invitations to various banquets had been presented to Pei Zi Yun, and yet he rejected them one and all. The reason for doing so was to generate a certain value to his poems and appearances. Were he to attend every other banquets, he would be as common as regular cabbage and would lose his value. He would occasionally attend a banquet or two every few months. This was referred to as marketing value in his previous world.

"The first step is completed. And now I have to execute the next step."

The books in Fu Mansion's library were all good books. However, for him to really establish a name for himself, just composing poems was not enough. According to the original owner's knowledge and memories, he had to write books as well.

All he had to do was think, and the knowledge from all the books he had ever read came flooding into his mind, and presenting them before his eyes. This was probably a use of the Plum Blossom. Apart from whenever the original owner wished to withhold information from Pei Zi Yun, the rest of the information and knowledge would be crystal clear for Pei Zi Yun to peruse anytime he wished.

He thought for sometime, filtering his thoughts and excluding the poems from his mind.

"Who would've expected that failing in stocks would actually be beneficial to me today. After I was badly hit and lost a substantial amount of money, I went into seclusion, licking my wounds, and finding solace in reading old books. From there, I gained a valuable insights."

"An example would be the collection of annotations from The Great Learning, written by Confucius. This set of annotations and discussion was one of the biggest hits back in his modern world."

"The discussions and criticisms do not have to be plenty. In fact, as long as a few good representation of my ideas are present, it would do just fine."

Pei Zi Yun was upstairs reading intently. He then took out a piece of paper, prepared his ink and chose a quill with the finest tip. He dipped the quill into the ink and started writing the notes and annotations from his memories. He started writing slowly, but picked up speed as he progressed, his quill waving back and forth along the paper. Within a day, he had written 3,000 words.

When he was done, he cleaned up his quill and left the ink to dry. He then picked up his writing and took a look at it.

"The discussion on The Great Learning had already been penned down. However, the response it receives might not be the same as the enthusiastic response received back in my world. If I wish to be a pioneer and gain reputation for myself in this regard, I would need to provide more insightful critiques and discussions."

As he was thinking, he walked out of the study to look for High Scholar Fu.

High Scholar Fu was in the pavilion by the yard, sun tanning. He held a book in his hands as well. Pei Zi Yun greeted him, and asked for some guidance. When High Scholar Fu heard this, he pondered for a moment before replying, "What you mean to say is, you're looking for more philosophical books to read?"

Pei Zi Yun replied him, "Yes, Uncle Fu. After reading Confucius works over the past few days, I've learnt a great deal and wish to compound these thoughts in my head by reading more books that are similar. From this, I wish to write an essay highlighting my thoughts."

"The library in the Academic Institution is the best place for you to begin your search. They have a wide variety of books, with varying depths. Since you are a High Scholar yourself, you will be permitted entry." High Scholar Fu pointed in the general direction of the institution and said.

Pei Zi Yun bade farewell to High Scholar Fu, before returning to his study room. He then binded his essays together using a string and left for the institution. Pei Zi Yun was browsing through the books in the library of the institution when he saw someone returning a book, placing it onto a shelf. Pei Zi Yun retrieved that book and looked through the contents. It was close to what he was looking for, except it didn't provide much discussion. He started his search all over again, and only emerged an hour later.

He looked through the content pages of the books he had picked out, discarding the unsuitable books onto the table. He was holding onto a few books in his hands. These books were all relevant to his objectives. With the last few books in his hands, he started comparing the contents of the books.

"Although my ideas and thoughts are deemed to be radical and novel in this world, I still have to conform to the general sentiments and structure of literary and philosophical works. In order to do so, I would have to read these books to get an idea of what their structure is like."

"But I only have myself, and there are thousands of books around. How long would I need to finish browsing through these books?"

"Obviously I won't kid myself and say it's possible to finish reading these. What's more these books are all copied versions and not the original. This means I wouldn't be able to absorb them as legacies." Pei Zi Yun sighed as all these thoughts flooded his mind. According to the original owner's memories, the third cultivator who managed to transform his body into that of a saint, would manage to do so within this decade. Pei Zi Yun knew that time was not on his side.

"Brother Pei, you are here too." Pei Zi Yun was still deep in thought when he heard the voice. When he turned around, he saw Wei Ang standing before him, holding a fan in his hands.

"Young master Wei, you're here to borrow books as well?" When they were in the outside world, most Free Cloud Sect members always addressed each other in a semi-formal tone.

"Yes, I've come to borrow some books as well. Ever since I've heard your poem, , during the last banquet, the other poems I've been reading paled in comparison to yours, and left me bored. So I'm here to borrow some books and essays to pique my interests. I didn't expect to find you here as well."

Pei Zi Yun smiled, "I've come to search for certain books. But I've already finished reading. Since we've met by coincidence, let's go in together. I shall return my books and you can borrow yours."

"Will do." Wei Ang wasn't long winded and followed Pei Zi Yun inside.

Within half an hour, Wei Ang managed to find the book he was looking for and the pair proceeded to leave. At this point the weather was starting to change as clouds darkened. Wei Ang started grumbling, "This stupid weather. If we'd known it would start to rain soon we would've taken an ox-cart. Quick, we have to walk faster, if not we'll get caught in the rain."

Just as they were walking, rain started descending upon them. Pei Zi Yun and Wei Ang had no choice but to seek shelter from the rain.

Since there wasn't any shelter nearby, they stuffed their books and papers into the folds of their clothings. After running frantically for some time in search of a shelter, they stumbled upon a small temple ahead. They ran towards it, and hid themselves from the rain.

They both looked around, and saw that many people had entered the temple to seek shelter from the rain as well. Nearby, there were three students and one of them was extremely unhappy, "The weather is really ruining my mood. It was a nice and sunny day. Now it's raining so heavily."

"Ai, it's just a small rain no need to get so upset. Anyway, have you heard. The counties on the east side of the river have been under attack by Japanese pirates. Even Lucky Entrance County was not spared and is under siege by these pirates. The magistrate of the Lucky Entrance County has been martyred by them. The situation is dire, and some people answered their call to arms, and tried resisting these pirates. Many people have died and even more women have been abducted."

When Wei Ang heard this, his expression was one of anger and disgust. The students were still talking, "These Japanese Pirates would not dare to attack the capital city. I've heard that among these pirates, there are sorcerers. Which explains why they're able to be everywhere at once, and be this formidable while remaining undefeated."

"Let's not talk about such grim topics anymore. Shall we pray to the deities, so they might extend their protection to us. As for the pirates, we have to leave them to the Imperial Court." Another student replied. He then started walking towards the shrine.

"If that's the case, I would want to pray to the deities for protection."

"Come, let's go. There's shelter all the way to the shrine, I shall go with you."

Hearing these, Pei Zi Yun was somewhat surprised. The dynasty had been established and peace was restored. Were the pirates this bold to attack now?

According to the original owner's memories, he was cooped up in the village studying while all these was happening, and thus wasn't aware of the details. Only after hearing this conversation did Pei Zi Yun find out about the existence of pirates in this world, 'And they had sorcerers too? Pei Zi Yun tonight quietly to himself. If that's the case, does the Yin Yang Sect from Japan exist? Does Teacher Yin Yang exist in this world too?'

While he was still deep in thought, he felt a pat on his shoulders. When he turned around, Wei Ang sighed deeply and said, "The civilians have a hard life and suffer plenty. Let's go in and pray to the deities as well. Maybe they would do something about the crisis pertaining to the pirates."

"Pray to the deities?" Pei Zi Yun was just about to refute. This was a matter regarding the imperial court and the pirates, what has this got anything to do with the deities? Just as he was about to speak his mind, he understood. Deities existed in this world. Clearly it was different from his own world.

They both entered the shrine and saw a woman on her knees praying. She was praying to a female goddess. The shrine wasn't large and the interior was lined with mud. In the middle was a wooden bench. Incense was burning within and the interior was extremely stuffy.

Since it was a rainy day, it was somewhat dim inside and was rather hard to see. However, they could make out a woman on the floor, praying to the statue of the deity before her. She could be heard muttering, "Please protect my father. Protect him from the attacks of the bandits, and let him be safe. If you would grant me this wish, I would return regularly to give sacrifices. I humbly ask for your protection on my father."

Her words were filled with sorrow, and everyone around that heard her felt extremely sorry for her plight.

Pei Zi Yun recalled the pirates invasion that lasted an entire century. For a split second, he felt as if the two worlds he knew collided. The pirates problem was deep seated and had caused the deaths of many people, breaking up countless families. Seeing a scene like this unfold before him, he felt some pity in his heart. Feeling somewhat closer to this foreign world than he had ever been before, he asked, "Who's this goddess?"

"Are you asking about the legitimacy of the goddess?" Wei Ang laughed and replied, "She's everywhere on the streets. She's definitely legitimate. This goddess is Madam Luo. She was conferred a title on the previous dynasty."

"That's so!" Pei Zi Yun knew that unless there was an imperial decree mentioning otherwise, the titles conferred in the previous dynasty would also be recognized in this dynasty. He then retrieved an incense before stepping forward.

Before the goddess statue was a table, and a notice was pasted onto the table. There was a paper and a quill on the table, where a donation box was as well. Manning the shrine was a middle aged man. He wore a grey robe and stood up, "Hold on young master."

The people within the shrine were surprised by his actions. When the keeper of the shrine noticed that people were surprised by his sudden intrusion, he pulled Pei Zi Yun to the side and said softly, "The goddess told me that she's pleased by the fact that you're here to offer her incense. However, you've brought some secular treasure within our shrine. And we do not allow this."

Pei Zi Yun was shocked, "I'm only carrying 5 taels of silver, and several bank notes. What treasure are you speaking of?"

"It's what's in your hands that I'm speaking of."

"But these are just books."

The books that the shrine keeper was referring to were those that were written and tied up by Pei Zi Yun himself, "If young master wishes to proceed, may I suggest he place his books outside the shrine before paying his respects?"

When Pei Zi Yun heard this, he didn't understand the logic behind this. Although in both his lives, he had never learnt the rituals and customs of such practices. However, this shrine keeper was a conduit for the spiritual realm, and could feel the presence of deities and other spirits. It seemed like the books were hindering his connection to the spiritual realm. Pei Zi Yun then wondered if the books he had written were able to make a mark on this world, without any further amendments required.

When Wei Ang had finished with his rituals, he walked over to Pei Zi Yun and took the books from him and said, "Let me hold it for you."

He then took the books away from Pei Zi Yun.

Pei Zi Yun didn't mind. These books were meant to be read, since he wanted his works to be recognized all over the nation. Besides, he had interacted quite a fair bit with Wei Ang of late, and decided that he wasn't as bad as he had initially thought.

He walked up towards the goddess to offer his incense. Pei Zi Yun was not especially religious. Furthermore he was a Daoist cultivator, with the knowledge of the original owner. He didn't especially need anything. Thus he stepped up and offered the incense without asking for anything.

Wei Ang was outside the shrine, flipping through the books nonchalantly. However, something within the book caught his eye. He started flipping through, as if in a frenzy. When Pei Zi Yun went out, Wei Ang was appalled, "This book, was it written by you?"

"Of course it is. It's just that this is my first draft, and I have yet to edit or make amendments to it. I have plans to improve on it, maybe then it would be presentable."

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