Chapter 30: Shen Bi Ru’s Shock
“Reading seriously?” A wind tugs on Elder Mo’s beard and his face looks so red that it might explode at any moment. “Not jotting down notes to decipher its content and simply flipping the books randomly. Tell me, who reads the way you do?”
“Must reading involve jotting down notes to decipher its contents?” Only now does Zhang Xuan understand why the other party is so mad. He is at a loss to respond.
In his previous life, he was a librarian and his job scope was similar to that of Elder Mo’s. However, back then, as long as one holds a borrowing pass, he would be able to enter the premises and no one would bother whether he is eating or drinking inside. As long as one doesn’t kill someone or set the place on fire, he is basically free to do as he pleases!
Initially, he thought that Elder No was making things difficult for him due to his previous self’s astounding results at the Teacher Qualification Examination. After such a farce, the reason ends up to be just this!
“These books are obtained through the relentless efforts of the academy’s predecessor and every single one of them is the product of their blood, sweat and tears. If you are not here to study, then don’t touch them! Flipping through them the way you do, what can you be doing other than creating trouble?” Elder Mo flings his hands in anger.
“I… Fine, if you insist that I’m creating trouble, then just take it to be so!”
Zhang Xuan wants to explain but after thinking it through for a moment, he shakes his head and decides otherwise.
The matter with the Library of Heaven’s Path must not be revealed. This also means that he would be unable to explain his actions of flipping through those books frenziedly.
Since he won’t be here in the future anyway, there is no need for him to clarify it. Besides, his reputation is already as bad as it is, it doesn’t matter whether it is sullied further or not.
“At least you’re willing to admit to it! Now, scram!” Upon his admittance, intense loathe can be seen in Elder Mo’s eyes. He waves his hands, gesturing him to leave.
“I’ll be taking my leave!”
Just as he is about to leave, a pleasant aroma surges into his surroundings and a figure appears before him. Blocking his path, Shen Bi Ru says, “Wait a minute!”
“What is it now?” Zhang Xuan looks at her helplessly. “You read your own book while I read mine. Surely I didn’t bother you then!”
Normally, when she stops someone else, the other party would be leaping in joy. Yet, this fellow looks at her with an annoyed expression. Shen Bi Ru frowns, “It isn’t about that. Didn’t you say that you were reading books in there? After reading for such a long period, surely you would remember some of its contents!”
“What do you mean?”
Not sure what kind of tricks this woman is playing now, Zhang Xuan stares at her doubtfully.
“It’s simple. I noticed that you read 《Eight Methods of Pill Refinement》. It just happens that there are some parts of it that I am unable to comprehend so I would like to consult you on it. Surely you won’t reject my request?” Shen Bi Ru asks.
Actually, her plan is simple. Isn’t this fellow before her putting on an act by flipping through all those books?
Thus, if she questions him on the book and he is unable to answer her queries, his lie will be exposed!
“Eight Methods of Pill Refinement?” Zhang Xuan’s consciousness jolts as the book appears in his mind. Indeed, he had flipped through this book previously. “If there’s anything you are unsure of, feel free to ask and I will answer your queries. However, I have to eat soon and don’t have much time to spare, so do hurry up…”
Clenching her fists tightly, Shen Bi Ru almost faints from anger.
His tone is as though a frustrated teacher answering the questions of a student seeking clarification.
Firstly, I am a beauty. Secondly, I am a high-level teacher and one of the popular teachers of the school! If I ask you a question, it is obvious that I am testing your standards. Why does it sound like I am learning from you?
Everyone has a field of specialty that expertise in, so teachers in the academy often consult one another to learn from each other. However, as a fellow who scored zero in the Teacher Qualification Examination, what makes you think that you are qualified for me to be consulting you?
Suppressing the rage within her that is on the verge of erupting, Shen Bi Ru grinds her teeth, “Just a moment ago, I read a phrase in the book ‘If the herbs scatter, it would be difficult for the pill to form! If the herbs agglutinate, a yellow pill will form!’ I find these words a little bizarre and incomprehensible. Can Zhang laoshi clarify its meaning for me?”
When she says the word ‘clarify’, her teeth almost shatter from the intense force between them, and the sound of its grinding is clear to hear.
As a great beauty, if it isn’t to embarrass him, she would never seek guidance from a trash.
“You still want to ask questions despite that memory of yours…” He didn’t expect the other party to ask such a question. He purses his lips and replies, “The phrase should be ‘If the herbs agglutinate, it would be difficult for the pill to form! If the herbs scatter, a yellow pill will form!’ Its meaning is simple. When refining a pill, the moment that the herbal fluid or powder clumps together, it would be impossible to meld their medical properties together. On the other hand, if they are separated and mixed together thoroughly, the pill that would be formed will look like the yellows of an egg!”
After flipping through all of the books in the Compendium Pavilion, he is able to retrieve the correct method for the refinement of the pill with just a jolt of his consciousness. She might be able to stump others with such a question, but directing it towards him? What a joke!
What’s worst is that… She even recited the question wrongly! Her standard is too sub-par!
“How, you can’t reply it, can you! Ah… What did you say?”
She thought that the young man would be unable to reply her question. Not even in her dreams would she fathom that Zhang Xuan would be able to answer the question so casually. Unprepared for such a twist, Shen Bi Ru is dumbfounded, her beautiful eyes almost popping out of their sockets.
She intentionally recited the phrase wrongly so that he would offer the wrong guidance. In her viewpoint, this fellow was just making up a show in the Compendium Pavilion, not absorbing the slightest bit of knowledge in those book at all. If she were to casually whip out the contents of a book, he would be foreign to them!
Thus, she recited it inaccurately so that he would make a fool of himself!
Who knew that… he would see through her inaccurate reciting and even offered the most correct answer!
How… How is this possible?
Could it be that this fellow has really remembered the entirety of 《Eight Methods of Pill Refinement》 just by flipping through it?
But that’s impossible!
He is a fellow who scored zero in the Teacher Qualification Examination, how could he possibly be knowledgeable in something as unconventional as pill refining?
“Alright, do you have any other questions?” Stroking his shriveled stomach, Zhang Xuan hurries her.
“I still have more!” Despite the overwhelming shock, upon seeing the impassive look on his face, Shen Bi Ru immediately recovers and poses another question, “There is another phrase that I don’t understand. ‘When refining a metal in flames, never meld them when it is impure!”
After finishing her words, she smiles coldly as she awaits for the stumped look on the other party.
The question she asked previously was on pill refinement while this one is a dictum on weapon forging. This is a phrase she saw on an ancient book. She was unable to understand the saying ever after analyzing it for a month. In the end, she only managed to clarify it after consulting a master blacksmith!
Initially, she only wanted to embarrass the other party to let him know the price of offending her. Yet, she didn’t expect him to be able to explain the meaning of the words in the Eight Methods of Pill Refinement!
This provoked the competitive spirit within her, inducing her to come up with a difficult question to leave him speechless.
Standing by the side, Elder Mo was surprised when Zhang Xuan was able to answer the first question. Even so, he wasn’t particularly shocked.
Eight Methods of Pill Refinement is a basic manual that innumerable rookie apothecaries would have to learn, similar to what Hongtian Nine Dan Formula is to cultivators. Even if one doesn’t learn pill refinement, it isn’t peculiar for them to know a thing or two about it.
When Shen Bi Ru asked the second question, he is stunned. That’s because even he found it hard to decipher the meaning of these words.
“When refining a metal in flames, never meld them when it is impure!” Just when the two of them thought that he would be incapable of answering, Zhang Xuan shakes his head and looks at Shen Bi Ru as though he is looking at an idiot. “What is so hard to comprehend about these words? It just means that when forging weapons, one must first refine the respective materials in fire to thoroughly to clear away all impurities. Only then can the weapon be melded together more effectively! May I trouble you to ask some harder questions? This basic knowledge can be grasped easily after reading more books!”
Shen Bi Ru’s slim body jolts.
She had to consult many different people before she got an answer to this question of hers. Yet, this young man managed to point out the crux of the dictum instantly, this…
Not just her, even Elder Mo almost faints from astonishment.
For Zhang Xuan to answer a question he didn’t know the answer to, could it be that… he was studying seriously when he was flipping through all those books?
“Zhang Xuan laoshi, your answer seems to be incorrect though. I remember that there is an explanation of it on 《Discussions of Miscellaneous Disputes》 which is different from what you claim. It states that if one wants to add metal material to a pill, one would have to refine it first, otherwise it would not coagulate as one!”
In a state of disbelief, Elder Mo speaks up.
“You remembered it wrongly, there isn’t such a phrase in 《Discussions of Miscellaneous Disputes》, neither is there anything of that sort written in it. The one you read must be 《Discussion of Miscellaneous Theories》 written by senior Liu Ze. There is a phrase similar to it in there, but what that is written is ‘When refining a metal along with a pill, never mix them when it is impure’, and not refining a metal in flames!”
Zhang Xuan waves his hand majestically.
He isn’t aware that the both of them are testing him. He truly thought that the both of them couldn’t remember the contents clearly and thus, he casually continues, “Oh, this book is at the corner of the 9th row in the Compendium Pavilion. The words that you just said are recorded on the 49th page! As for the question Shen laoshi just asked, if you hold doubts about my explanation, you can browse through 《Three Arts of Fire Crafting》 left behind by senior Du Qu. It is by the corner of the 15th bookshelf and the explanation of it is written on the 24th page!”
“Let me take a look!”
Shen Bi Ru looks at him with doubtful eyes. She hurriedly rushes back into the Compendium Pavilion and in a short moment, she comes back with two books in her hand, 《Discussion of Miscellaneous Theories》 and 《Three Arts of Fire Crafting》. Flipping to the page that the latter said, she staggers and almost passes out on the spot.
To think that it would be… identical to what Zhang Xuan said, there is not even a single discrepancy!
Not only did he remember the contents of the book, he could even point out which book it came from, its location and even the page number?
Is this for real?
By the way, a reader has pointed out that there is only 80000+ seconds in a day, so how is it possible for him to flip through a few hundred thousands of books? While you all read through the books carefully, the protagonist grabs a handful of them and hurriedly flips through them at a single go. In a second, he would be able to flip through a dozen of them. So, being able to flip through so many books in 6 to 7 hours isn’t weird… Of course, it is a Xuanhuan novel so there would be some unrealistic portions to it, so don’t grind on them too much…
…Everyone has a field of specialty that expertise in (闻道有先后，术业有专攻)。
The full phrase is
This is saying that originates from a book called (师说), which by the limitations of the vocabulary, I would translate as The Adages of Teaching.
The entire phrase means that:
A student might not necessarily be inferior to his teachers
Similarly, a teacher might not necessarily be wiser than his students
There are people who comprehends certain knowledge faster than the others
Everyone has their own field of specialisation.
That’s just the way how it works.
(Correct me if I’m wrong)
Apothecary -> In BTTH, they use receptarier but I decided to go with this instead. Basically, just means people who make pills.
Once again, to be fair, although it is possible for one to derive its meaning out of the Chinese words, they aren’t really that straightforward as presented in English. They use archaic phrases for words like ‘burn’ etc, making it look profound.