Lu Chen, who is walking on the bluestone pavement, didn’t know that just a moment ago, without doing a single thing, he has been unknowingly struck off the list of potential candidates for enlightenment by a certain female who is a ‘potential future immortal’. However, if he were to know it, he would definitely be smiling bitterly at this moment.
He treads quietly on the bluestone pavement. When he passes by the large chinese scholar tree, he spots the fishing Old Yu. He walks by the crowd behind him towards the remote straw cottage at the foot of the mountain.
Opening the door, he walks in and shuts it. Thus, the world beyond the door seems to be a separate world from the one outside.
An inconspicuous grass stem floats down from midair and lands lightly onto the floor before him. Lu Chen looks at the grass stem and a hint of exhaustion appears in his eyes. Walking over to the bed, he rests on it.
He lies silently on it and after awhile, his eyes closes.
The sight before him turns dark. Yet, the next instant, light appears before him again. He seems to see the majestic mountains and thousands of rivers. In the far distance, a vast ocean could be seen. These illusions are a result of his spiritual consciousness submerging into his body. To the mortals, this is a mystical and wondrous ability. Only cultivators who have cultivated in the way of the immortals can wield this mystical art. Possessing spiritual consciousness to look into one’s own veins and qihai, 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 qihai which most mortals hope to ascertain. In other words, there is no need for ‘Immortal Discerning Mirror’ and such mystical treasures to check if one has the roots required for cultivation.
However, this seems to be a paradox. The development of spiritual conciousness requires one to be cultivated in the art of the immortals, so those who had never cultivated before will not possess it and would be unable to view their own roots. Therefore, mortals could only work for entire life away just to dump their life savings just for that pathetic chance.
That is a pair of eyes from nowhere. It surges forward and traverses across the mountains and rivers. Very soon, it arrives at the vast ocean. In the route of cultivation, this ocean is known as the qihai, the very core of one’s cultivation. All cultivators would have a Five Element Divine Compass in their qihai. 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 has 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. Each of these pillars are different and more would be elaborated on them eventually.
At this moment, Lu Chen gazes over only to see the clouds getting blown away from the wind and scatter. From the depths of the qihai, an object rises upwards. It is the Five Element Divine Compass.
Different from the eye-catching and radiant divine compass of other humans, the one in his body is charred black and many parts of it are withered and broken. Furthermore, there isn’t a single divine pillar on the compass. Between those fearsome cracks on the compass and the rubble of the broken pillars, one can still see bundles of black flames burning silently, tearing the entire compass apart as though a demon from hell. It stares savagely at him, using the vilest curse to burn his soul for eternity.
Staring at the mutilated divine compass from afar, Lu Chen’s eyes are indifferent without a hint of emotion. He simply gazes at the flames which burns on and on on the divine compass which represents the foundation of cultivation.
That is a black flame that would reap his soul. It seems as though it would plague him for eternity, unwilling to let him go until he dies!
One day passes after the other, with affairs resembling the surface of Dragon Lake, always seeming placid. All occurs as expected, orderly and tidy. Everything looks calm as always.
The only difference is the newly arrived Li Ji. He is gradually gaining the fancy of the ladies in the village. The paintings he draws are exquisite, especially the paintings of ladies, which are exceptionally lifelike. Sometimes, the paintings feel even more beautiful than the person it is modeled after.
Furthermore, he is extremely handsome!
Thus, the ladies in the village gather around him and pester him, pleading him to draw a portrait of them. Of course, Ding Dang isn’t an exception. These few days, she has been mustering her courage and will, waking up early in the morning and returning late at night, not fearing the mocking or gossips of others, just to get Li Ji to draw two more portraits.
Including the very first one, that makes a total of three paintings.
She is the model for all three portraits. One of them is 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 are fine works and there a beautiful lady is portrayed in every single portrait. It seems as though the happiest moments of a lady has been condensed and reflected in the beautiful figures between the paper and ink.
Ding Dang is very fond of those paintings. She has carefully mounted them onto the wall of her room. She would often stare blankly at these paintings. Sometimes, her face would blush red but more often, a smile would be hanging on her face.
Today, she is immersed into the portraits yet again with an intoxicated look in her eyes. Suddenly, she hears someone knocking on the door. Ding Dang awakes from her daydream, startled. She walks over to the door while shouting ‘who is it’ and opens the door.
A figure stands outside the door and grins towards her, revealing his neat white teeth.
Ding Dang is taken aback, “Why is it you?”
Lu Chen walks past her with a smile. He surveys the courtyard and says, “You speak as though we were strangers. In the whole Clear Stream Village, I am probably the one who visit your home the most frequently.”
Ding Dang’s face blushes red. She spits towards him and before closing the doors to the horse. Then, she walks over and says, “Such flirtatious words, why can’t you change this nature of yours?”
Lu Chen chuckles. He stands beside her and reaches out to grab Ding Dang’s shoulder before pulling her into his embrace. Then, he smiles, “We are already very familiar with one another. There is no need for you to put on such an act.”
Pui pui pui, Ding Dang reprimands him and pushes him away. She walks two steps towards the side. She doesn’t seem to be really angry, only pouting her lips and sighing, “I don’t like to be like that.”
Lu Chen is taken aback as the smile on his face fades slightly. He frowns and replies a little doubtfully, “Was it something I just said? Or did I accidentally get on your nerves?”
Ding Dang shakes her head.
Lu Chen shrugs. Since he didn’t do anything wrong, then there is nothing for him to worry about. His smile reappears on his face. He walks towards Ding Dang and stuffs 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.