Way of Choices

Chapter 205 – Going South of the Mausoleum

The wattled fencing was pushed over, and the night wind was able to blow in more easily. The temperature of the area around the grass hut dropped. Compared to the starlight which had landed in the yard, the oil lamp within the hut seemed especially dim. Chen Changsheng walked into the yard and looked at the man who was sitting on a rock. He wanted to say something, but he did not know what to say.

Xun Mei had been an expert with astonishing talent in the past, but now, he had already spent thirty odd years viewing the monoliths within the Mausoleum of Books. Therefore, he did not know what level his cultivation had already reached. Xun Mei as expected knew the group of teenagers had arrived behind him and said, “I am not afraid, nor am I embarrassed. I know that I am currently not as strong as he is, so do I even have a reason to leave?”

Ever since his youth, Zhexiu had been exiled from his tribe. He had survived and grown up in the midst of fighting. Although he knew this middle-aged man’s cultivation was extremely high, he still could not accept such an attitude. He murmured, “If you haven’t fought him, then how do you know that you are not as strong as he is? Is there, perhaps, any reason for you to trap yourself within the Mausoleum of Books?”

Xun Mei’s voice became somewhat lonely, “I have already stayed within the mausoleum for thirty-seven years, and I have not communicated with the outside world. I gave up the painting and calligraphy that I loved most in my youth. I eat only to fill my stomach and sleep only to keep warm. I have put all my time into viewing the monoliths and comprehending the Dao. I have cultivated and meditated, but I am still unable to catch up to him. I also really want to know the actual meaning of life.”

“Do you know Wang Po’s current level of cultivation?” Tang Thirty-Six was a little surprised and said, “I had thought you would not know how much time had passed, and would ask us.”

“Every year, , new people will enter the mausoleum at the end of the Grand Examination. After a period of time, senior will also send someone to visit me. I am not interested in other human affairs, and I do not care who the current emperor is. But I really want to know Wang Po’s current condition. This is why I know his current and yearly condition.”

Xun Mei stood up and gazed at the night sky outside of the mausoleum. He could vaguely see the lights of the capital and said, “The year I entered the mausoleum, he placed first on the Proclamation of Azure Clouds. Afterwards, I knew that he had entered the Proclamation of Gold Distinction and placed second. Afterwards, he entered the Proclamation of Liberation, and he once again placed in front of Xiao Zhang. At that moment, he must have been very happy.”

Wang Po of Tianliang and Painted Armor Xiao Zhang, they were all famous people from the previous generation before Chen Changsheng’s generation. Their positions were similar to Qiushang Jun’s current position, and they were still the true experts of the current age in the continent. Originally, Xun Mei was the same as they were but with an extremely well-known name. However, as he had never left and stayed in the mausoleum to view the monoliths, the continent slowly forgot about him. At least, some people like Chen Changsheng had no knowledge of him.

“If you did not continue to stay within the mausoleum, your name would definitely be on the Proclamation of Liberation. You would have also had an extremely high chance to place within the top five.” Tang Thirty-Six said while looking at him.

Xun Mei turned around and looked at the three teenagers. He said, “Top five…… is indeed already very glorious, but in the end, it is not first place. So in the end, aren’t I still placed after him?”

Tang Thirty-Six felt that he still could not really understand and asked, “Then, are you, perhaps, only at peace while staying in the mausoleum and becoming forgotten by everybody?”

“The Mausoleum of Books is an opportunity, the only one for me to overtake Wang Po.”

That cold feeling within Xun Mei’s eyes grew heavier and heavier. However, it did not frighten people, and he only seemed to become more determined, “As long as I stay in the mausoleum and continue to view the monoliths, then one day when I reach the top of the Mausoleum of Books, I will completely understand the true meaning of the Dao. On that day, how can Wang Po still be my opponent?”

The yard fell into silence. A kind of small animal was digging under the wattled fencing, and it produced a rustling sound, as if it protested what he had said earlier.

“Senior, in these past thirty-seven years, how many monoliths have you seen?” Chen Changsheng suddenly asked.

After hearing this question, Xun Mei frowned slightly. He lowered his head and thought hard. Then he said, “In the first year, I used three months to comprehend seventeen monoliths. In the summer of that year, there was a huge thunderstorm. After that, my speed began to decrease. By the time it was winter, I had comprehended another five or six monoliths?”

After spending thirty seven-years within the mausoleum, the time had just been too long. He had already forgotten many details from the earliest days, and he needed to think back carefully to remember them. He seriously thought back to the obstacles he had faced before and said, “In the second year, I think I comprehended four monoliths, and in the third, three monoliths? I can’t really remember.”

He shook his head and looked at Chen Changsheng. He said, “I really can’t remember the total amount.”

“However, it is very obvious that how quickly you comprehend the monoliths has become slower and slower.” Chen Changsheng hesitated a little before saying, “Please forgive me for being rude, but perhaps, you are unable to remember how many monoliths you have comprehended in the thirty-seven years. However, you should at least be able to remember how many years it has been since you last understood a single monolith inscription.”

Xun Mei’s body slightly froze, and his face paled slightly as well. His old, dirty clothes fluttered slightly in the night wind.

“Understanding the inscriptions of seventeen monoliths in only three months. This kind of talent for comprehension really lets people show admiration. That is extremely impressive. I believe that if that stone hut had not been destroyed by His Majesty Taizong, then we would definitely been able to see senior’s name. However……”

Tang Thirty-Six said while shaking his head, “Since you have such a talent for comprehension, why must you continue to torment yourself inside if you can only reach such a level? I remember very clearly that back then, Wang Po spent a year in the mausoleum, and he had comprehended thirty-one monoliths before leaving.”

Xun Mei’s eyes suddenly brightened, as if he was hurrying to show off his child and said hurriedly, “Although I don’t remember how many monoliths I have comprehended, I am extremely certain that I have surpassed thirty-one monoliths. I have comprehended more than him.”

“So what?”

Tang Thirty-Six was once a student of Heavenly Academy. While looking at this middle-aged man in dire straits, he unconsciously wanted to help him. After hearing what was spoken, he could not help but feel slightly heartsick. He sighed, “If Wang Po had continued to stay in the mausoleum for a couple of years with his talent for comprehension, he definitely would have also been able to comprehend a few more. But why was he determined to leave? He had a clear idea of his own limits. If he had decided to stay, even though he would comprehend a few more monoliths, the ratio of time spent working hard to producing results would be subpar. This would be wasteful.”

After hearing these words, Xun Mei became a little angry, but afterwards, he realized he did not know how to rebuke Tang Thirty-Six. For a moment, he could not help but stare blankly, and the yard in front of the grass hut once again fell extremely silent.

“Are you saying….. in those years I spent in the mausoleum, I had just been wasting away my life?”

He shook his head and said with a trembling voice, “Both his talent for cultivation and comprehension heavily exceeded mine. What else can help me overtake him other than the Mausoleum of Books? Yes, he still currently stands above me. If I am unable to overtake him while I am inside the mausoleum and he is outside, then what hope do I have if I leave the mausoleum?”

“The monoliths within the mausoleum can help us with cultivation, but many other opportunities exist to help us with cultivation outside the mausoleum. How else could Wang Po become so strong?”

Zhexiu who had always stayed silent suddenly opened his mouth and began speaking.

Xun Mei’s brows were tightly furrowed and he asked, “What other opportunities exist outside the mausoleum that can help me with cultivation even more than these monoliths, which contain profound mysteries?”

“There are many.”

Zhexiu said expressionlessly, “Battles, trials and tribulations, expanding your horizons, and hardships. Most importantly, there are life and death situations outside the mausoleum.”

Xun Mei opened his mouth slightly, but he could not say anything for a long time.

After witnessing this, Chen Changsheng sighed sorrowfully. Zhexiu was clearly a teenager, and his level of strength was way below Xun Mei’s. However, he currently spoke to Xun Mei like a teacher educating young kids——A young wolf who had grown up with difficulties on the snowy plains had a more realistic and accurate understanding of the world than a cultivator who had spent thirty-seven years inside the Mausoleum of Books.

“But…….these thirty-seven years……”

Xun Mei turned around to look at the mausoleum in the night sky, and his expression became somewhat frustrated. He said to himself, “There are still many stone monoliths up there that I cannot understand nor read. I really want to understand. If I can reach the top of the mausoleum, understand all of these monoliths, and grasp the true meaning of the heavenly Dao, I can definitely defeat Wang Po. If I just leave like this, how would I be willing?”

After saying these things, he shook his head with a bitter smile and then walked towards the outside of the yard.

The starlight illuminated bits and pieces of the courtyard, and it also landed on Xun Mei’s hair. Perhaps it was the lighting, but Chen Changsheng definitely felt that he could see a few strands of white hair. The night breeze seemed to become a bit chillier.

“Where is he going?”

After observing Xun Mei’s somewhat melancholy back and his slightly staggering steps, Chen Changsheng became a little worried. He wondered whether Xun Mei’s mind had received too much of a shock or not.

Tang Thirty-Six said slightly sympathetically, “He should be heading toward the mausoleum to view the monoliths……. in the past thirty-seven years, perhaps he was like this every night.

The starlight was very bright. Although it would be slightly difficult to write under its illumination, it was enough to view the monoliths. There were also faint lights that could be seen within the mausoleum. After thinking about it, there must have been many people also viewing the monoliths by lamplight.

“He is not going to view the monoliths.”

Zhexiu’s expression suddenly changed. He looked at Xun Mei who had slowly disappeared into the night forest and said, “The path to view the monoliths is north of the mausoleum. He is going southwards.”

Tang Thirty-Six stared blankly and said, “Perhaps he was so angry that he became confused and is now travelling in the wrong direction?”

Chen Changsheng was slightly regretful and said, “As the senior spent most of his life within the mausoleum, he is perhaps slightly confused. However, this situation is different. The reasoning we believe is correct seems wrong to him. We are also his juniors after all. Didn’t you go a little overboard with your words before?”

“Wrong is wrong. Wasting your life away is wasting your life away. This has nothing to do with being juniors or seniors.” Zhexiu said expressionlessly.

“Well……. I want to follow him and see what happens. Hopefully nothing happens.”

Chen Changsheng walked towards the exterior of the wattled fencing, and Tang Thirty-Six also followed along. Zhexiu stared blankly at the wattled fencing that had collapsed on the floor for a while, and then he also left the grass hut.

This grass hut was in the southwest region of the Mausoleum of Books. After crossing over the river and walking southwards, they could hear the rumbling sounds of the dozen waterfalls south of the mausoleum.

Xun Mei’s silhouette could be vaguely seen in the night sky. The three teenagers followed him. They passed through the spray of the waterfalls like walking through the spring rain, and they arrived in front of the rock plateau covered with shallow canals.

Starlight scattered across the rock plateau, and the clear water within the canals flowed gently from side to side. It was very beautiful.

Xun Mei waded through these shallow canals, which caused his clothes to become wet. However, he did not pay attention to it at all and seemed to be a little distracted.

He arrived in front of the Divine Path and raised his head to look at the top of the mausoleum. His expression became slightly frustrated.

For thirty-seven years and countless days and nights, he had only wanted to reach the summit. However, he still could not get there unfortunately.

Although the Divine Path led directly to the top of the mausoleum, he did not have a way to walk up it.

This was because of that person clad in armor who sat quietly within the pavilion in front of the Divine Path.

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