Chapter 199 – Mausoleum Guardian
Chen Changsheng did not know how to respond. Did he have to tell him that he had just suddenly lost all interest in cultivation? After thinking for a moment, he said, “I have already undergone my Ethereal Opening, so I obviously don’t need to hurry too much.”
Tang Thirty-Six stared at him and asked, “Are you being cocky?”
Chen Changsheng was slightly startled and said, “I really did not mean it that way.”
Tang Thirty-Six pointed towards the woods and said, “I mentioned this on the way over here. To us cultivators, the Mausoleum of Books itself is already a very important matter, and it is infinitely more important than the Garden of Zhou. Only those who are short-sighted and can only see a few inches ahead will treat the viewing and comprehension of the Mausoleum of Books as a condition to undergo Ethereal Opening. Look at Gou Hanshi; he may have already undergone his Ethereal Opening, but he has not wasted any time at all.”
Chen Changsheng looked at where he had pointed and only saw afterimages of shadows on the mountain path in the green woods. The loud sounds continued, and the shadows of the four people from the Mount Li Sword Sect quickly disappeared.
He turned around, looked at Tang Thirty-Six, and asked: “Aren’t you also standing here?”
“I felt that you were acting a little strange today, so I decided to follow you.” Tang Thirty-Six said as he stared into Chen Changsheng’s eyes.
Chen Changsheng looked at him and spoke earnestly, “This is a rare opportunity, so don’t waste time.”
Tang Thirty-Six said, “There is still at least another month, so there is no need to hurry.”
Just at this moment, a voice appeared behind the two and interjected, “Indeed, there is no need to hurry.”
The person who had arrived was Su Moyu. This young priest from the Li Palace College had really encountered some bad luck in this year’s Grand Examination. He had met Zhexiu who was an extremely strong opponent in the first round. Luckily, his performance on the written examination had been extremely outstanding, so he just managed to squeeze into a third rank placement from the final decision.
While staring at him, Tang Thirty-Six was confused and asked, “Chen Changsheng did not hurry today because he had some problems with his head, and I am looking out for him. What are you doing here?”
Su Moyu said, “There is a saying among the people that you cannot eat hot tofu if you are impatient. The monoliths of the mausoleum are not this easily understood. The most important thing is your mentality, so the more hurried you are, the easier it is for you to encounter problems.”
Tang Thirty-Six reminded him by saying, “The Garden of Zhou will open in a month. Time will not wait for people.”
Su Moyu replied calmly, “I do not plan to enter the Garden of Zhou.”
Tang Thirty-Six’s expression changed slightly, and Chen Changsheng also felt a bit puzzled. Who was not interested in Zhou Dufu’s legacy?
Su Moyu reassured them, “Only after The Grand Examination did I learn that my foundation was a little fragile. It’s ridiculous thinking about how arrogant I was before, and I plan on staying in the Mausoleum of Books for a bit longer.”
Chen Changsheng asked: “We can stay for as long as we want in the Mausoleum of Books?”
Su Moyu’s expression changed slightly: “Didn’t you hear what the monolith guardians had said before?”
Chen Changsheng felt a little embarrassed and replied: “Oh, I was thinking about other things before.”
Tang Thirty-Six felt that this kind of response was a little humiliating and rushed in to speak, “The rules for viewing the monoliths in the Mausoleum of Books has not changed these past few years. As long as you are able to enter the mausoleum, you can stay for as long as you want. However, if you want to enter the mausoleum again thereafter, it is not an easy matter.”
Chen Changsheng looked at Su Moyu and asked, “You have decided to give up the Garden of Zhou for the Mausoleum of Books?”
Su Moyu said, “The Garden of Zhou may be good, but it is not where I want to be.”
From time to time, the green wooded mountain would echo with sounds of startled birds flapping.
Tang Thirty-Six said, “It is very obvious that those other people do not think the same way.”
“How can the Garden of Zhou be compared with the Mausoleum of Books? Even if it really contained Zhou Dufu’s legacy, it can’t be more important than those stone monoliths on the mountain. The former is a short cut, whereas the latter is the proper way.”
Su Moyu looked at the green mountain silently and explained with a sorrowful sigh.
Chen Changsheng stayed silent and did not say anything.
Tang Thirty-Six laughed at him and said, “How are there so many explanations that seem right but are actually wrong? A straight line between two points is the shortest; therefore, the most correct path is itself the fastest route.”
The correct path was the fastest? Chen Changsheng and Su Moyu both stared blankly after what was just said, and they realized that they actually could not refute these words at all.
“Not bad.” Chen Changsheng looked at him and praised him.
“I just can’t win against you, so I will leave first.” Su Moyu shook his head and walked towards the Mausoleum of Books with his hands behind his back.
“I worry for Su Moyu’s future.” Tang Thirty-Six slightly raised a brow and stared at his back as the young priest slowly disappeared into the green woods. He said, “There are many examples in the past and in the present where many people are still stuck in the Mausoleum of Books unable to leave. Hopefully, he will not end up like them.”
Chen Changsheng was a little surprised and asked, “Being stuck in the Mausoleum of Books?”
“They are unwilling to leave until the end when they become too scared to leave. They can spend several dozens of years viewing the mausoleum’s monoliths in one sitting. How is this any different from being a prisoner?”
Tang Thirty-Six said, “Those people can’t bear to part with the outside developed world and are unwilling to swear a blood oath to become a Monolith Guardian. They are also are unwilling to part with the good fortune offered by the stone monoliths of the Heavenly Tomes. To leave or to stay are both great temptations. and facing up against these temptations, how they choose, and when they make their choices are all tests the Mausoleum of Books gives to everybody.”
Chen Changsheng said, “I do not consider this choice that difficult to make.”
“That is because we still have not yet seen the Heavenly Tomes.”
Tang Thirty-Six looked at him and said, “Of course, even if you see them, I believe you have the power to clearly recognize what you want most, just like Gou Hanshi. He must have already made up his mind beforehand. If you are unable to pass even this obstacle, then how can you still have to right to continue along the path of cultivation.”
Chen Changsheng suddenly thought of something and asked, “If I can stay in the Mausoleum of Books and view the monoliths, then are there meals provided?”
After hearing these words, Tang Thirty-Six was somewhat speechless. He thought ‘you aren’t a foodie like Xuanyuan’ and answered in an upset manner, “Of course there is food. If you can view the monoliths until your death, then you can also eat until your death.”
Chen Changsheng was a little embarrassed and said, “Don’t get mad. I just thought this matter was relatively important.”
Tang Thirty-Six was too lazy to acknowledge his words and said while pointing to the mountain full of green trees, “The Mausoleum of Books only has one path, and those stone monoliths are all beside it. Only once you have finished viewing one level can you move onto the next.”
Chen Changsheng asked: “How many levels does the Mausoleum of Books have?”
He had always been perplexed by this question. According to common practice, the Three Thousand Daoist Canons had several descriptions of the Mausoleum of Books, but he had never read how many levels the mausoleum had after all.
“I don’t know…… oh, to be exact, nobody knows how many levels there are in the Mausoleum of Books.” Tang Thirty-Six answered.
After hearing what was said, Chen Changsheng was very puzzled and replied: “According to what I know, although reaching the top of the Mausoleum of Books is extremely hard, there are still people who have accomplished it. How can the amount of levels be unknown?”
Tang Thirty-Six said: “My grandfather once told me that on the day you really enter the Mausoleum of Books, you will understand why there are no set number of levels.”
“Why is that?” Chen Changsheng was still puzzled.
Tang Thirty-Six stared into his eyes, and said deeply: “Firstly, I am not a Monolith Guardian. And secondly, I am not a tour guide, so can you not ask me so many questions? All you need to know anyway is that those stone monoliths can only be viewed one by one. In the end, how many monoliths you comprehend will depend on your own power of understanding.”
Chen Changsheng could feel that Tang Thirty-Six’s mood had worsened. He originally wanted to control himself and stop asking questions, but he really could not hold back his curiosity. He tentatively asked Tang Thirty-Six: “One last question?”
Tang Thirty-Six took a deep breath and said: “Speak.”
Chen Changsheng began speaking, “According to the Daoist Canons, the Divine Empress and the Pope will both reach the top of the Mausoleum of Books by the Divine Path. Is this the path you mentioned?”
“No.” Tang Thirty-Six said: “The Divine Path is a different path.”
“But you said earlier that the Mausoleum of Books only has one path.”
“That is only for the people who come into the Mausoleum of Books to view and comprehend the monoliths.”
“If you want to go to the top, which path is closer? I feel that the Divine Path is closer.”
“The Divine Path is the true path south of the mountain, and it is not a shortcut to climbing the mausoleum. You are not that type of person who fears difficulties, so you should know very clearly that there are no shortcuts to the mountain. It can only be scaled with hard work.”
“But you just said to Su Moyu that the shortcut is the correct path.”
Tang Thirty-Six stayed silent for a very long time before saying, “Firstly, I was arguing with him. And secondly, whether it is the correct path or the shortcut, you cannot take that path directly to reach the top of the Mausoleum of Books anyway. You don’t need to ask me anymore, so let me tell you directly. It is because that Divine Path has a person guarding it, and there has never been anybody who has successfully ascended the mausoleum by force.”
“Don’t get mad.” Chen Changsheng was a little embarrassed and extended his arm to pat Tang Thirty-Six’s shoulder.
Tang Thirty-Six stared into his eyes and said, “This is the second time. Don’t make it a third.”
Chen Changsheng knew that Tang Thirty-Six’s current mood had already reached the limit before exploding into rage. He did not want to continue annoying him, so he said, “I’ll just stroll around casually.”
At this time, all of the examinees in the top three grades of the Imperial Examination had already entered the Mausoleum of Books and disappeared into the green woods. Only the two of them remained outside.
Tang Thirty-Six’s voice became slightly higher and asked, “Are you really going to stroll around casually?”
Chen Changsheng nodded and replied matter of factly, “The scenery within the mausoleum gardens is not bad. I want to walk around and take a look.”
Tang Thirty-Six stared at him like he was staring at an idiot. Only after trials and tribulations did everyone finally enter the top three grades of the Imperial Exam. They had obtained the opportunity to enter the mausoleum for viewing and comprehending the monoliths. Yet, Chen Changsheng did not want to seek knowledge silently in front of those stone monoliths, but he actually wanted to casually view the scenery? Did he really think he was a tourist? Tourists could not enter the Mausoleum of Books.
Cheng Changsheng ignored how surprised and mad Tang Thirty-Six was and abandoned him where he was. He began to leisurely stroll around the Mausoleum of Books. The greenness of the Mausoleum of Books in early spring was gratifying, and the vegetation in the gardens under the mausoleum were many and varied. The scenery was indeed good. He walked, stopped within it, and placed his two hands behind him as he viewed the scenery. He looked extraordinarily like a tourist from the countryside.
Due to the dense green tree cover, it was very difficult for the people outside the Mausoleum of Books to see what the inside of the mausoleum looked like. However, people within the mausoleum could see the people outside very clearly. Many of those examinees who had traveled along the mountain path noticed his presence and discovered that he actually did not ascend the mausoleum. Instead, he went sightseeing outside. They could not help but feel very shocked.
Chen Changsheng had unexpectedly not climbed the mausoleum. Obviously, everyone was shocked. Afterwards, various different feelings blossomed within different people. Some students thought that he was being purposefully indifferent. This caused people to truly despise him to the utmost, such as the Scholartree Manor’s students and the junior called Ye Xiaolian from Holy Maiden Peak. Some people thought that with his current strength and the strength he had shown during the Grand Examination, he did not enter due to being too strict on himself. This was despite the Mausoleum of Books being right in front of him. For example, Guan Feibai and Liang Banhu thought as such. Gou Hanshi received the water Qi Jian passed to him and drank a sip. He saw Chen Changsheng sitting on the edge of a pond, staring blankly. Instead, he had a different line of thinking compared to most other people.
He felt that Chen Changsheng had a few problems, which were probably problems on a psychological level. However, he did not understand why he was like that. It had only been a few days since the battle at the Grand Examination. He had seen Chen Changsheng’s willpower and determination, which could even be considered as terrifying. However, such a great change would not occur in just a few days.
The Mausoleum of Books was a green mountain with a very large surface area. If you had wanted to complete a lap around it by following the path below the mausoleum, you would face a difficult endeavor, especially for Chen Changsheng who was walking and stopping every so often. He would stop for a moment to look at the vegetation and then stare blankly at the pool. He walked and thought about matters that may or may not exist, and only after walking for four hours, did he arrive south of the mausoleum.
Chen Changsheng currently looked at the pattern on the road formed by the colorful rocks, and he suddenly heard the sound of rushing water from above. He subconsciously raised his head to look, and he just saw a silver waterfall, flowing out from a certain place in the rock face. This rock face was tens of feet above, and the waterfall formed a white chain as it hit the rock face. From there, the water split off in all directions, forming several dozens of even smaller streams of water. They flowed through the rugged rocks and finally landed on the ground.
After seeing such a beautiful image, Chen Changsheng’s first reaction was that the Mausoleum of Books’ southern face was really very steep. There were not many trees, but how could he not see even a single stone monolith? Afterwards, his gaze followed those several dozen streams of water downwards. He only saw an extremely wide and large, black rock forming a plateau in front of him. On that plateau, there were man-made, shallow canals, which caused the water from the Mausoleum of Books to flow towards those canals.
While following the canals with his eyes, he only saw that the water was unbelievably clear inside with the white rocks at the bottom of the canals shining brightly like pearls. Not long after, he arrived in the due south area of the Mausoleum of Books. The sound of the waterfall slowly disappeared, and the canals on the plateau grew even closer together. He could not help but think that if he looked down from the top of the mausoleum, then what type of image would these shallow canals form?
Afterwards, he saw the legendary Divine Path.
It was an extremely straight path, which led directly from the plateau to the top of the Mausoleum of Books. Just like Tang Thirty-Six had said, if you wanted to climb the Mausoleum of Books, then this Divine Path was the shortest path. However, this path was forbidden for everybody, except for the Divine Empress and the Pope when they performed a grand ceremony of offerings to the heavens.
There was nothing at all on the Divine Path, not even any trees on either side. Only cliffs surrounded the path.
Any person who considered the Mausoleum of Books’ zenith at the end of this Divine Path would probably have a strong desire blossom within them to walk up the path.
However, nobody had ever succeeded before.
It was because at the beginning of this Divine Path, in between the countless canals of water, there was a pavilion.
A person sat within the pavilion.
That person was clad with worn-out armor, and there were marks of rust on the front part of the chestplate. The armor completely covered up his body from head to toe and did not reveal anything at all.
That person carried a worn-out sword in his hand. The edge of the sword was covered with many dents, and its tip rested on the ground.
The man fully clad in armor seemed like a sculpture from afar.
Sometimes, people would even suspect whether there was a person inside the armor at all.
However, Chen Changsheng knew that the figure was a person.
The whole continent knew this person.
This person had already sat in the pavilion for several hundreds of years.
Many people were saying that if this person had not sat in boredom at the Mausoleum of Books for hundreds of years, perhaps, he would have already become a member of the Eight Storms of the Cardinal Directions.
This was because hundreds of years ago, he was already the continent’s number one divine general.
He was this generation’s mausoleum guardian, Han Qing.