Lu Chen, who was walking on the bluestone pavement, didn’t know that just a moment ago, without doing a single thing, he had been unknowingly struck off the list of potential candidates for enlightenment by a certain female who was a ‘potential future immortal’. However, if he were to know it, he would definitely be smiling bitterly at this moment.
He treaded quietly on the bluestone pavement. When he passed the large chinese scholar tree, he spotted the fishing Old Yu. He walked by the crowd behind him toward the remote straw cottage at the foot of the mountain.
Opening the door, he walked in and shut it. Thus, the world beyond the door seemed to be a separate world from the one outside.
An inconspicuous grass stem floated down from midair and landed lightly onto the floor before him. Lu Chen looked at the grass stem and a hint of exhaustion appeared in his eyes. He walked over to the bed and rested on it.
He lied silently on it and after awhile, his eyes closed.
The sight before him turned dark. Yet, the next instant, light appeared before him again. He seemed to see the majestic mountains and thousands of rivers. In the far distance, a vast ocean could be seen. These illusions were a result of his spiritual consciousness submerging into his body. To the mortals, this was a mystical and wondrous ability. Only cultivators who had cultivated in the way of the immortals could wield this mystical art. By possessing spiritual consciousness to look into one’s own veins and spirit sea, one is able to look inward into his own body’s condition as well as the condition of the Five Element Divine Compass within the spirit sea which most mortals hope to ascertain. In other words, there was no need for ‘Immortal Discerning Mirror’ and such mystical treasures to check if one has the roots required for cultivation.
However, this seemed to be a paradox. The development of spiritual conciousness required one to be cultivated in the art of the immortals, so those who had never cultivated before would not possess it and would therefore be unable to view their own roots. Hence, mortals could only work their entire life away just to dump their life savings for that pathetic chance.
That was a pair of eyes from nowhere. It surged forward and traversed across the mountains and rivers. Very soon, it arrived at the vast ocean. In the route of cultivation, this ocean is known as the spirit sea, the very core of one’s cultivation. All cultivators would have a Five Element Divine Compass in their spirit sea. There are five different divine pillars on it that occupy five different bearings. The five pillars are namely metal, wood, water, fire and earth and they are different from one another, but regardless of who it is, they would require at least one pillar if they wish to cultivate.
If one possesses the fire pillar, they would be able to cultivate fire-related cultivation technique. On the other hand, if one possesses the water pillar, they would be able to learn water-related daoshu. With multiple Five Element Divine Pillars, one’s possible path of cultivation would be widened. This had been the basic principles of the human cultivation world for thousands of years.
The potential of a cultivator’s root is seen through the height and glow of the Five Element Divine Pillars.
This moment, Lu Chen gazed over only to see the clouds blown away and scattered by the wind. From the depths of the spirit sea, an object levitated upward. It was the Five Element Divine Compass.
Different from the eye-catching and radiant divine compasses in other humans, the one in his body was charred black and many parts of it were withered and broken. Furthermore, there wasn’t a single divine pillar on the compass. Between those fearsome cracks on the compass and the rubble of the broken pillars, one could still see bundles of black flames burning silently, tearing the entire compass apart as though it were a demon from hell. It stared savagely at him, commanded by the vilest curse to burn his soul for eternity.
Staring at the mutilated divine compass from afar, Lu Chen’s eyes were indifferent without a hint of emotion. He simply gazed at the flames which burned on and on on the divine compass which represented the foundation of cultivation.
That was a black flame that would reap his soul. It seemed as though it would plague him for eternity, unwilling to let him go until he dies!
One day passed after another, with affairs resembling the surface of Dragon Lake, always seeming placid. Everything occurs as expected, orderly and tidy. Everything looked calm as always.
The only difference was the newly arrived Li Ji. He was gradually gaining the fancy of the ladies in the village. The paintings he drew were exquisite, especially the paintings of ladies, which were exceptionally lifelike. Sometimes, the paintings felt even more beautiful than the person it was modeled after.
Furthermore, he was extremely handsome!
Thus, the ladies in the village gathered around him and pestered him, pleading him to draw a portrait of them. Of course, Ding Dang wasn’t an exception. In the past few days, she had been mustering her courage and will, waking up early in the morning and returning late at night, not fearing the mocking or gossips from others, just to get Li Ji to draw two more portraits.
Including the very first one, that made a total of three paintings.
She was the model for all three portraits. One of them was titled 《Gazing at the Moon by the Window on a Summer Night》, the other one 《Admiring the Peach Blossom Amidst the Spring Breeze》 and the final one 《Young Lady Chasing Fireflies in Palace Wear》. The three drawings were fine works and there a beautiful lady was portrayed in every single portrait. It seemed as though the happiest moments of a lady has been condensed and reflected in the beautiful figures between the paper and ink.
Ding Dang was very fond of those paintings. She had carefully mounted them onto the wall of her room. She often stared blankly at these paintings. Sometimes, her face would blush but more often, a smile would be hanging on her face.
Today, she was immersed into the portraits yet again with an intoxicated look in her eyes. Suddenly, she heard someone knocking on the door. Ding Dang awoke from her daydream, startled. She walked over to the door while shouting ‘who is it’ and opened the door.
A figure stood outside the door and grinned at her, revealing his neat white teeth.
Ding Dang was taken aback, “Why is it you?”
Lu Chen walked pass her with a smile. He surveyed the courtyard and said, “You speak as though we are strangers. In the whole Clear Stream Village, I am probably the one who visits your home the most frequently.”
Ding Dang’s face blushed. She spitted toward him and before closing the doors to the house. Then, she walked over and said, “Such flirtatious words, why can’t you change this nature of yours?”
Lu Chen chuckled. He stood beside her and reached out to grab Ding Dang’s shoulder before pulling her into his embrace. Then, he smiled, “We are already very familiar with each another. There is no need for you to put on such an act.”
Pui pui pui, Ding Dang reprimanded him and pushed him away. She walked two steps toward the side. She didn’t seem to be really angry, only pouting her lips and sighing, “I don’t like to be like that.”
Lu Chen was taken aback as the smile on his face faded slightly. He frowned and replied a little doubtfully, “Was it something I just said? Or did I accidentally get on your nerves?”
Ding Dang shook her head.
Lu Chen shrugged. Since he didn’t do anything wrong, there was nothing for him to worry about. His smile reappeared on his face. He walked toward Ding Dang and stuffed two objects into her hands before chuckling, “Let’s go, into your house.”
Five Elements (金木水火土)
In Chinese folklore, the world is made up of 5 main elements namely metal, wood, water, fire and earth.
Not the first time this phrase has appeared but I always try to avoid it (since it doesn’t play a major role). It just refers to the mystical arts of the cultivators E.g. Breathing fire, shooting water from one’s palm, lasers from one eyes etc. They are all considered under Daoshu.
Young Lady Chasing Fireflies in Palace Wear
Palace Wear isn’t a good word but anyway, it refers to what young ladies dress up when they are attending a banquet in the palace etc.
Initially, I wanted to translate it as Spirit Sea (and that would be around correct as well) but I decided to stay with qihai.