Way of Choices

Chapter 206 – Intruding upon the Divine Path

From a distance, there were faint lights within the mausoleum, and the sound of waterfalls could also be heard. However, the south end of the mausoleum was very quiet. No lamps were lit, and only the starlight illuminated the cliffs, the straight path, the canals, and the rock plateau. However, the starlight was incapable of completely expelling the darkness of night. The clear water within the canals were pitch-black like ink.

Xun Mei withdrew his gaze from the top of the mausoleum and looked at the Divine Path. Then, his gaze gradually shifted to the pavilion and finally rested upon the man clad in armor beneath the pavilion.

After a short moment, he began to walk toward the pavilion. He stepped through the fresh water, as if he were stirring ink, but the splashes of water were silver-colored.

What was he trying to do? Could it be that he wanted to intrude upon the Divine Path? After eyeing this scene, Chen Changsheng, Tang Thirty-Six, and Zhexiu grew all the more nervous.

“Senior,” Chen Changsheng called towards Xun Mei.

Previously, he had seen many strands of white hair belonging to Xun Mei underneath the starlight outside the grass hut. His sympathy had grown, but his worries even more so.

Xun Mei’s steps ceased, and he turned toward those youths standing at the edge of the rock plateau.

Unlike what Chen Changsheng and the others had imagined, Xun Mei’s expression was very calm. There was no frustration on his face, much less the signs of a pitiable and out-of-sorts man. While smiling, he asked, “Young ones, do you need something?”

Chen Changsheng glanced at the pavilion and saw that the legendary Divine General still seemed to be sleeping. After a moment of hesitation, he asked, “What is senior planning to do?”

“I am going to ascend the Mausoleum.” Xun Mei pointed at the Mausoleum behind him in the darkness of night.

He did not turn his head, but his finger had been exactly on point. His tone was very matter-of-fact, as if he were heading home. He exuded the feeling of having already walked the Divine Path several thousand times.

To ascend the Mausoleum or to sightsee, Chen Changsheng had not heard clearly. However, regardless of which phrase it was, their meaning was the same. This made the three youths even more worried.
(TL: ?? (denglíng) means to climb the mausoleum and ?? (denglín) means to sightsee. They sound very similar.)

Perhaps it was an illusion or something else, but Chen Changsheng felt that when Xun Mei had spoken those words, the stars in the night sky seemed to have grown brighter for a moment. The starlight that fell onto the canals of the rock plateau south of the mausoleum seemed to thicken. Underneath the pavilion, the very worn out armor also began to shine from the starlight. His heart began to throb even more with terror because the Mausoleum Guard who had always had his head down and his face obstructed by his armor, had issued forth a light wind from underneath the helmet, carrying some dust along with it. This was at the exact moment when the stars had grown brighter..

Chen Changsheng did not dare take another glance, even if it was only out of the corner of his eyes. He asked Xun Mei, “Why?”

If Xun Mei could defeat the Mausoleum Guard underneath the pavilion and use the Divine Path to ascend directly to the summit of the Mausoleum of Books, then why did he endure these thirty-seven long years in the Mausoleum? It was very likely that he would have intruded upon the Divine Path long ago. Since he had not, it was very clear to himself that he had no chance of victory.

Yes, even if Xun Mei’s level of cultivation were even more profound, he still would not have been able to overcome that obstacle underneath the pavilion. If that person could be so easily defeated, how could that armor have accumulated several hundred years of dust? Even if Xun Mei surpassed Wang Po, Xiao Zhang, and other such famous names, viewed the monoliths in the Mausoleum of Books for another thirty-seven years, and pushed his cultivation to even more unfathomable levels, he still would find it difficult to defeat the man underneath the pavilion.

Out of the continent’s thirty-eight Divine Generals, Han Qing occupied first place. This expert who sat underneath the pavilion for several hundred years was only worthy of being mentioned alongside the Five Saints and Eight Storms of the Cardinal Directions. Of course, those on the Proclamation of Liberation had profound levels of cultivation as well, but regardless of Wang Po of Tianliang or Painted Armor Xiao Zhang, they would still not dare say they had the qualification to challenge him.

After hearing Chen Changsheng’s words, Xun Mei fell silent for a while. He did not directly answer, but instead he seriously replied, “Thank you all.”

As he expressed his thanks, his gaze brushed over the three youths.

From birth, Zhexiu’s meridians and sea of consciousness had problems. He had to bear the pain of the Tide Rush of Blood at all times. If he were a normal person, then he would have long ago lost the courage to live, but he did not. This sort of courage was rarely seen. Chen Changsheng made stir-fried vegetables, cooked rice, and steamed salted fish. This sort of tranquil state of mind was something he had long yearned for. Tang Thirty-Six had made a loud ruckus in such a sacred place as the Mausoleum of Books. This allowed him to see the hot-blooded passion of youth, which had long been lost to him.

Xun Mei said nothing, but this was his answer to why he had wanted to climb the mausoleum.

Tonight, he had met these three youths, who had used their bravery, will, and youth to awaken him.

The thirty-seven years he had spent viewing the monoliths in the Mausoleum of Books were simply a long dream. After waking from a dream, there were certain things he had to do.

“All of you woke me up. I want to see the truth, so I need to ascend the mausoleum.”

Xun Mei once again pointed calmly and resolutely to the mausoleum behind him.

“If senior has truly awoken…then shouldn’t you be leaving the mausoleum to find Wang Po and where each of you stand?” Tang Thirty-Six asked in bewilderment.

After hearing these words, Xun Mei roared with laughter. The laughter echoed throughout the rock plateau, which caused the inky water within the canals to shudder.

The laughter gradually faded. He looked at the three youths and calmly replied, “Is Wang Po really my enemy?”

Chen Changsheng and Zhexiu faintly understood while Tang Thirty-Six gradually began to frown.

“No, after thirty-seven years, the shadow over my cultivation has long since ceased to be him, but it.”

While smiling, Xun Mei continued to point at the Mausoleum of Books behind him.

Chen Changsheng and the others were stunned at these words and then fell silent. Countless years before, the Heavenly Tomes had descended like fire from the heavens. They eventually landed on the continent and opened knowledge to humanity, until humanity had learned the ways of cultivation. Certainly, this mausoleum occupied an irreplaceable role and position in human society, but to countless cultivators, the Mausoleum of Books was in many ways their greatest enemy.

The incomprehensible words and drawings on the monoliths were a tall mountain they had to surmount and opponents that they had to defeat. Although the mausoleum did not look tall or treacherous at all, in reality it pressed up against the blue dome of heaven. It was exceedingly difficult to surmount it while relying only on human strength, such that countless cultivators had their courage and spirit shattered upon trying.

Xun Mei had awoken and faced the truth. He had finally realized who his true opponent was.

As a result, he did not choose to leave the Mausoleum of Books and find Wang Po, but he chose to intrude upon the Divine Path instead.

The forest outside the mausoleum was extremely quiet and was without a single stray sound. Logically, there was no way for the conversation happening south of the mausoleum to carry over here, but those two men in the forest somehow understood Xun Mei’s intentions. Mao Qiuyu’s two sleeves trembled with emotion. The brows of the man underneath the scholartree leapt up, making an eight (?) character. His eyes were incomparably bright and almost mesmerizing.

South of the Mausoleum, the three youths had also understood Xun Mei’s intentions, but there was still something they could not accept — to wake up from a thirty-seven year long dream, return to reality, learn who his enemy was, and then challenge him. This was naturally a very valorous course of action, but if he lost, then he would enter into a dream of eternal darkness, so this seemed too desperate a course of action.

Chen Changsheng had only met Xun Mei today, and they had not exchanged many words. Reasonably, there should have been no empathy between them, but for some reason, he felt a close connection to this man. He sympathized with him and wanted to do something for him. He did not believe that he had just awoken only to find his death. He said, “Please be careful.”

Xun Mei chuckled, and then said nothing more. He turned around and continued on his way toward the pavilion. He was tread through the water as he went, and the water was splashing about and soaking his shabby shirt.

One hundred yards away from the pavilion, he stopped.

The rock plateau south of the mausoleum was black, but the space in front of the pavilion was white. It was the same color as the Divine Path, and they mixed together as a whole.

The black rock plateau and the white Divine Path. This was the dividing line and perhaps also the line between life and death.

The face of the man underneath the pavilion was obscured in the shadow of his armor, so it was impossible to make out his face clearly.

Suddenly, countless motes of dust flew out from underneath the helmet. In the starlight, they seemed like tiny fireflies.

A sound followed the dust from underneath the helmet.

That sound was deep and resonating, and it caused the water from the canals to leap about in turmoil as if in joy and fear. It echoed throughout the cliffs of the Mausoleum of Books.

It was as if that man had slept for several hundred years and had only now awakened.

As a result, the Mausoleum of Books had also awakened.

The faint lights from the lamps at the north of the mausoleum seemed to slightly sway with the sound echoing throughout the cliffs. Afterwards, sharp sounds of breaking filled the air: hahahahaha.

As the night wind blew gently, Gou Hanshi was the first to arrive at the edge of the rock plateau with his shirt still flowing from the wind. He was closely followed by Liang Banhu, Guan Feibai, and Qi Jian.

“What’s going on here?” Guan Feibai took a step forward and looked at the scene before him in surprise.

Tang Thirty-Six mockingly replied, “Can’t you see? Someone wants to intrude upon the Divine Path.”

“Someone actually dares to intrude upon the Divine Path? Who is it?”

Gou Hanshi guessed that the man underneath the pavilion was the legendary Mausoleum Guard, the continent’s number one Divine General Han Qing. Then, who was that shabby-looking middle-aged man opposite him?

“Xun Mei.” Chen Changsheng answered.

“Snow-treading Xun Mei?” Gou Hanshi arched his eyebrows. He seemed to be in some surprise.

Stunned, Qi Jian said, “Xun Mei is actually still alive? It can’t be that the rumors were true, the he had been hidden in the Mausoleum of Books for all this time viewing the monoliths?”

On the side, Zhexiu expressionlessly said, “ We have already discussed these exact same words.”

Qi Jian only now realized that Zhexiu was there. His small face became filled with hate, and he grasped the hilt of his sword.

Zhexiu paid no attention to him, but kept his eyes on the scene playing out before him on the Divine Path.

“Why is it that only you four from the Mount Li Sword Sect came over? The sound just now was so loud, so how could those guys not have heard it?” Tang Thirty-Six asked.

Gou Hanshi replied, “Those people are viewing the monoliths and aren’t willing to leave.”

To still be viewing those monoliths deep into the night, Chen Changsheng found it difficult to understand. Was the temptation of the Mausoleum of Books really so great? Then, he thought back to how even Xun Mei, whose talent was so broad and deep, had also been imprisoned by those monoliths for thirty-seven years. When he looked at the mausoleum again, he suddenly felt that it was somewhat more sinister.

“Those who cross the line will die.” A voice resounded from the pavilion.

The voice came from the shadowy depths of the old armor. It was very ordinary, but it seemed to bring a sense of great change. It was like an ancient city wall. Its surface was overgrown with moss and the stones seemed ready to come loose, but in reality they were incomparably firm. The most powerful attack would be incapable of making the slightest mark upon its surface.

Xun Mei stood before that invisible line and looked towards the pavilion. He said, “I don’t want to retreat, nor can I stand here forever. Then, I must try and see if I can cross this line.”

“Several decades ago, Wang Po had said the same thing. But in the end, he stood there for an entire night and took not one more step forward.”

The worn-out armor completely encased the body of the legendary Divine General, and his voice also had to pass through the armor to be heard. His voice seemed muffled, and it also had a strange flavor to it like a sharp blade or a tongue licking the edge of the blade. It was the sweet smell of iron mixed together with that of blood.

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