Chapter 208 – Thank You and You’re Welcome
It was as if time had stopped at that moment.
Scattered starlight was afloat like fragmented snowflakes suspended in the night sky before the Mausoleum of Books.
Xun Mei and Han Qing silently stared at each other.
A snowflake fell from the edge of the pavilion’s roof and landed on Han Qing’s armor. It quickly melted and turned into vapor shortly thereafter.
Time began to flow once again.
Gou Hanshi’s expression changed slightly, and he did not hesitate to release Chen Changsheng’s hand. He grabbed the handle of the Iron Ruler Sword on Qi Jian’s waist and pulled it out as quick as lightning.
Chen Changsheng’s reaction was also extremely fast. With a clatter, he pulled out the Wenshui sword on Tang Thirty-Six’s waist at his side.
The two swords pierced through the small snowflakes in front of them.
With a huge bang, the front of the Divine Path rumbled.
Afterwards, there were countless shattering sounds, and numerous pieces of ice shattered. The whistling sound of wind and snow soon followed.
After some time, the battlefield returned to silence. The fragments of starlight were not real snow, so naturally, no mantle of snow was in front of the pavilion.
Xun Mei had left several dozen footprints upon the Divine Path. The more forefront of the footprints had actually accumulated snow.
That footprint had originally been wet with the clear water from the canals. But now it had been frozen into bits of snow.
Those footprints, starting from the forefront, gradually turned into the color of snow.
As each step turned into snow, the footprints gradually grew more indistinct.
It was as if the person that had been walking on the Divine Path had started to retreat.
Those footprints continuously turned to snow, disappeared, and retreated, until it finally reached that line.
Xun Mei’s will had been pushed back into his body.
His leaning body, suddenly straightened, as if it had been struck.
Xun Mei left the ground and was tossed backwards into the air with a bang. His black hair danced in the air, and his strands of white hair were as eye-catching as ever in the starlight.
However, what was even more colorful was the blood that spurted from his mouth.
He landed heavily upon those twisting canals with a great splash.
Cheng Changsheng immediately ran over after seeing this, completely disregarding how dangerous the Qi’s aftereffects still were. For some reason, he felt very close to Xun Mei.
Both the night sky above the rocky plateau and the ground below it were covered with cracks. It was extremely frightening. After moving only twenty yards, Chen Changsheng’s shirt received countless fine cuts. At the same time, many white marks appeared on his skin. If he had not undergone perfect Purification, he would have certainly been drenched with blood. Perhaps, he would not have even been able to run to Xun Mei’s side.
The night wind gradually lessened, and the snowflakes turned back to starlight. The Mausoleum of Books returned to its tranquil state. Only then did Gou Hanshi finally put down the Iron Ruler Sword in his hands.
Previously in that final moment, countless shattering sounds had arisen from the field of battle. These were the cutting Qi flows that had arisen from the clashing of Qi’s from the two powerhouses, resulting in a sound that swept in all directions. If Gou Hanshi and Chen Changsheng had not reacted so quickly and used the swords to resist, those youths would have received many injuries. It was a good thing that despite how frightening the battle was, the Qi that had come at them was only the leftovers. In addition, the Iron Ruler Sword was the Relic Sword of the Mount Li Sword Sect’s Discipline Hall, and even held a place on the Tier of Legendary Weapons, so it suffered no harm. Only the back of Gou Hanshi’s hand had received many fine cuts, which were currently bleeding.
He passed the Iron Ruler Sword to Qi Jian, and then he also began running toward the scene.
Chen Changsheng had already carried Xun Mei out of the canal and was taking his pulse.
Xun Mei lay on the ground. The blood that stained his clothes had been washed off by the waters of the canal, and he seemed to have no wounds.
Just like Chen Changsheng, Gou Hanshi also felt very close to Xun Mei for some reason. When Xun Mei had been intruding upon the Divine Path, they had both been silently cheering him on. Naturally, Guo Hanshi didn’t want there to be anything wrong with Xun Mei. He asked, “How is he?”
Chen Changsheng withdrew his fingers from Xun Mei’s pulse, and then after a moment of silence, he shook his head.
A battle between two cultivators at the peak of Star Condensation, one that could be said to approach the level of Saints, would be more terrifying than any other battle that had occurred before in front of the Divine Path. Although Xun Mei’s body had no wounds externally, the meridians within his body had actually all been broken. His Ethereal Palace had also been shattered. Although his sea of consciousness had remained unharmed, he had no chance of living.
This was completely different from the situation with Chen Changsheng’s body.
Gou Hanshi was at a loss for words.
Tang Thirty-Six and the others had also run over at this point.
In the pavilion, Han Qing once again bowed his head, and the elderly face sunk back into the shadows of his armor. Besides the floating dust, it was as if he had never moved.
No one paid attention to the fact that a faint sigh escaped from the gloom.
“I’m sorry to trouble you, but please send me out of the mausoleum.”
Xun Mei looked at the youths and feebly spoke, “I’ve been in here for thirty-seven years. I’m rather tired of it, and I certainly don’t want to die in here.”
Although he was very weak, his expression was very peaceful. To those who cultivated the Dao, sought the Dao, and achieved the Dao, how could there be any unwillingness?
After thinking it over, Gou Hanshi asked, “Does senior…. have anything that he would like to hand over?”
“I still have the strength to say my last words, so there’s no need to worry about it.”
With some difficulty Xun Mei laughed, then he looked at them all and seriously said, “I would like to thank all of you children.”
This was the second time he had solemnly expressed his thanks.
Zhexiu expressionlessly replied, “We didn’t do anything.”
Xun Mei replied, “In the end, your words about dying with a clear mind at least made me understand why I have to die. How could I not thank you?”
Chen Changsheng seemed like he wanted to say something but held back.
Xun Mei smiled. “Did you want to talk about borrowing a room?”
Chen Changsheng thought to himself you’re about to die, how could I ask such a thing?
Xun Mei said, “It’s just a shabby hut. If you all want to live in it, then live it. I have stayed here for thirty-seven years. After the Grand Examination every year, I would always see several children eat and sleep outdoors for several days before realising and finding a place to stay, ….however, I liked the quiet. You all can stay there, but just don’t let other people in too.”
These words concealed some other meaning, but how could Chen Changsheng and the others have taken note of it?
Gou Hanshi picked Xun Mei up and placed him on Guan Feibai’s back. These youths sent Xun Mei out of the mausoleum.
For some reason, those Monolith Guardians never made an appearance.
After arriving at the front gate of the mausoleum, there was no need for Tang Thirty-Six to call anyone over. The stone doors slowly opened by themselves.
The ground trembled, and the lamps outside the mausoleum rocked back and forth. The soldiers guarding the mausoleum were already waiting outside.
Xun Mei indicated that Guan Feibai should set him down, and then he walked outside of the mausoleum.
Chen Changsheng and the rest looked at his back with extremely complex emotions.
This former proud son of the Heavenly Academy was finally leaving the mausoleum of Books after thirty-seven years.
However, he probably only had this one night to live.
Xun Mei himself seemed to have no regrets as he casually walked out.
Entering the mausoleum and exiting the mausoleum. These thirty-seven years were just between the opening and closing of the stone gate. Life and death was also in between an opening and closing.
Outside the Mausoleum of Books were two people that had been waiting for Xun Mei for the whole time.
Chen Changsheng and the others recognized the Heavenly Academy Principal, Mao Qiuyu, and they paid him respects from within the door. However, they curiously wondered who was the other person?
If it were any other day,, he would have given some encouraging words upon seeing youths like Chen Changsheng and Gou Hanshi. However, today, he only had eyes for Xun Mei;ow could there be a place for anyone else? He urgently took two steps forward to support Xun Mei. His lips trembled as if he wanted to say something, but in the end, he said nothing.
Xun Mei forcefully took two steps back and paid his respects. Then with a trembling voice, he said, “Senior, I’ve disappointed you.”
Upon hearing the word “Senior”, tears began to fall from Mao Qiuyu’s eyes. “That doesn’t matter. None of that matters.”
After seeing his senior cry, Xun Mei could not hold back. His eyes moistened, and he replied, “The fact that I woke up in the end can already be considered fortunate.”
Then, he looked at the other person. “I really didn’t think you would be waiting here for me.”
That person’s mood was very complicated. “I always felt that today would be the day you would leave the mausoleum, but I hadn’t imagined that you would come out in such a way.”
Feeling somewhat ashamed, Xun Mei told him, “In the past few years, I have also disappointed you.”
The man’s expression suddenly became solemn. With extreme disapproval, he replied, “What disappointment? In tonight’s battle, you turned the stars into snow and glimpsed the great Divine Dao! If Divine General Han Qing was not the Mausoleum Guardian, if he was not wearing that suit of armor, then there would have been no way he could have defeated you. With regards to cultivation, you have already surpassed me.”
Xun Mei was stunned at these words. In disbelief he asked, “Are you saying that I have already surpassed you?”
That person replied, “You know that I never tell lies. This is true, even now. ”
Xun Mei stared blankly at him. “Starting from the age of twelve, I’ve fought with you one hundred and twenty-seven times, but I could never beat you. I didn’t think that I would finally win one at the last moment.”
After saying these words, he was so happy he began to laugh, as joyful as a newborn child. The hint of coldness around him vanished.
Only after hearing all this did Chen Changsheng and the rest realize who that other person was. They could not help but feel shocked.
This person, whose clothes were extremely clean, and whose eyes were set a bit close to each other, giving off the impression that he was distressed, was actually that man?
Yes, the man that controlled half the wealth of Scholartree Manor, was this seemingly poor and destitute looking man, one of the world’s most famous names and powerful cultivators, Wang Po of Tianliang.
Wang Po earnestly said to him, “In the future, when I become a Saint, I will take you to see the peak of the Mausoleum.”
Xun Mei chuckled. “That’s you, not me. In the end you still want to make angry?”
Wang Po asked, “Then in the end, what should I say?”
Xun Mei was also clearly very interested in this question, and asked, “What do you want to say the most?”
Wang Po seriously thought it over, then finally said, “Thank you.”
As he gave his thanks, his expression was one of complete sincerity. There was no falsity or consolation.
Yes, the shockingly talented and exceptionally gaudy Wang Po of Tianliang of the past was no more. Otherwise, why would Xun Mei have locked himself away in the Mausoleum of Books for thirty-seven years?
If there had been no ever-chasing and determined Snow-Treading Xun Mei who refused to concede defeat, then how could there have existed the present-day Wang Po of Tianliang?
Xun Mei calmly looked at him and said, “You’re welcome.”
The stone doors slowly closed.
The last picture that Chen Changsheng and the others saw was Xun Mei in Mao Qiuyu’s lap, his eyes closed.
Back at the grass hut, some of the youths sat on the doorstep, others walked on the fence, and more others looked at the mausoleum, but none of them had anything to say.
Gou Hanshi was the oldest and his cultivation was the most profound, so at this point, it was reasonable for him to say something. However, he did not.
To young people like them, succeeding in the Grand Examination and entering the Mausoleum should have been the highpoint of their lives. Who could have imagined that they would encounter this sort of situation on the first night?
In the future, who amongst this group would be saying “Thank you” and who would be saying “You’re welcome”?