Chapter 290 – Disciple of Novels
Liu Chuanfeng stood up as he slammed the table. “Kid, I could see that you’re a man of talent, which is why I’ve been putting up with you. Don’t take it too far. You can insult me, but you can’t insult my novels.”
“You’re the exact person I’m insulting. Your novels are trash, trash!” Li Qingshan clenched his fist and cursed.
“You… you…” Liu Chuanfeng pointed at Li Qingshan, overcome with anger.
Outside, the wind blew over the clouds, and their shadows enveloped the place. The sunlight no longer reached the room. The bamboo building seemed rather gloomy.
Li Qingshan could feel a wondrous form of true qi rise up from Liu Chuanfeng. Only now did he finally give off the pressure of a tenth layer Qi Practitioner.
Come. Show me what your school of Novels is capable of.
“Li Qingshan, I will bind you in chains and a pillory and have a hundred beasts tear at you. It’s still not too late if you take back what you said.” Liu Chuanfeng’s true qi suddenly erupted, and the smell of ink grew heavier.
Li Qingshan said, “Your- novels- are- trash!”
“You unruly disciple!” Out of anger, Liu Chuanfeng clutched a brush in his hand and swung it hard.
With a jangle, a set of long chains flew out, wrapping around Li Qingshan firmly. With a clack, a wooden pillock locked around Li Qingshan’s neck.
“Calls of the Hundred Beasts!” Liu Chuanfeng said.
Tigers, bears, lions, wolves, snakes…
Various vicious beasts surged forward, letting out terrifying hisses and growls, lunging towards Li Qingshan.
Li Qingshan frowned, not out of fear, but out of disappointment.
With a jolt, he spread his arms and broke out of the chains. He grabbed the wooden pillock and ripped them to pieces easily.
By now, the vicious beasts had arrived before him. With a thought, there was a clear thrum, and the Clear Stream sword flew up, turning into a stream of blue light with a series of swishes. After a few twists and turns in the room, all of the beasts were killed.
The chains and pillory were just regular chains and pillory, while the beasts were just regular beasts. They were enough against regular people, but against Qi Practitioners, especially a warrior who had gone through countless battles like him, he would be dreaming if he thought it would be effective.
Even if he just stood there and allowed the beasts to tear at him, were they supposed to penetrate his protective true qi or bite through his skin?
He held his fingers like a sword, pointing them at Liu Chuanfeng. “It’s not enough!” In the blink of an eye, the Clear Stream sword had arrived before Liu Chuanfeng.
Liu Chuanfeng said in a hurry, “Big-footed Monk, come out!”
Li Qingshan shivered, as this name had appeared in the book that Sun Fubai had given him. This was a character with extremely wondrous abilities. According to the descriptions of the book, it was not someone he could defeat.
They could actually summon characters from books. He understood what the school of Novels was capable of. Was he finally unleashing his true strength?
A large, fat monk with his chest exposed appeared out of nowhere. The most conspicuous part of him was his two large feet. He kicked the Clear Stream sword away with one foot as the other foot kicked towards Li Qingshan’s chest.
The kick was so powerful that it could pierce rock. This was on a completely different level compared to the beasts.
Just as Li Qingshan tried to avoid the attack, his feet suddenly slowed down. The floor had turned into swamp before he knew it. This tiny swamp obviously could not keep him trapped. Instead, it stimulated his fighting spirit. Alright, I’ll show you what’s what. He made up his mind and threw a punch, striking the sole of the Big-footed Monk’s foot.
The outcome was unexpected. With a great thump, the Big-footed Monk was sent flying back faster than it had arrived. It vanished in the air.
Liu Chuanfeng felt a chill on the back of his neck. The Clear Stream sword had shot over. He raised his protective true qi in a hurry.
But all of this was just Li Qingshan’s distraction. With surging murderousness, he arrived before Liu Chuanfeng in a single step and swung his palm like a blade, forcefully destroying his protective true qi.
Liu Chuanfeng wailed, “Spare me, good sir!” He saw the knife hand strike stop right before him firmly.
Li Qingshan withdrew his hand and recalled the Clear Stream sword. He returned the short table he had kicked over to its original spot, sat down, and picked up the teapot, pouring himself a cup before pouring another one for Liu Chuanfeng.
The clouds passed over in the sky and sunlight flowed in once more, falling on the wisps of water vapour from the tea. All was peaceful.
Liu Chuanfeng was surprised. He also arrived by the short table and sat down. “You…”
Li Qingshan extended a hand. This world did not have a custom of shaking hands, so Liu Chuanfeng was left at a loss for a while before he understood what was going on. He grabbed his hand.
Li Qingshan shook his hand. “Let’s get along in the future. There’s just the two of us on the island, and there probably won’t be anymore people arriving here in the future.”
In the battle earlier, if Liu Chuanfeng had not used the powers of the school of Novels, only relying on his identity as a tenth layer Qi Practitioner and using some regular techniques, then it would have been very difficult for Li Qingshan to emerge victorious unless he used the Cursive Sword Calligraphy. Even with a powerful body and an opponent lacking all interest in fighting, it would be very difficult to overcome a difference of several layers.
He wanted to see the powers of the school of Novels, while Liu Chuanfeng also wanted to show off the powers of the school of Novels. The end result was not very optimistic at all. No, it directly destroyed Li Qingshan’s last sliver of hope. He instead thought it through now. He was no longer angry at all.
It was not like he was lacking a cultivation method right now. The Gui Water Method of Condensing Qi was enough to last him until Foundation Establishment. By then, he would not be worried about being unable to find a better cultivation method anyway.
His priority in joining the academy was learning the various arts like alchemy, artifact forging, formations, and so on. He could learn them regardless of the school he belonged to. His identity as the primary disciple would provide quite a lot of convenience too. One aspect included coming to and leaving the academy freely, without requiring anyone’s permission.
Who knew how many contests a person would have to go through in the other schools over an identity like this. They could never obtain it as easily as in the school of Novels. Being unfavoured, unable to enter the limelight, was not necessarily a bad thing. Cultivating in peace was all that mattered.
As Liu Chuanfeng sat before Li Qingshan, he basically behaved with utmost caution. The school of Novels had truly gained an impressive disciple this time. He saw how Li Qingshan had sunken into his thoughts, so he was afraid of interrupting him. A while later, he heard Li Qingshan sigh. He asked, “When do we start cultivating? You’ve seen the techniques of my school of Novels earlier. It truly has limitless potential…”
Li Qingshan listened quietly without interrupting him. The power of the school of Novels was extremely special. It could make the fake become real, create something from nothing, turn fiction into reality.
It was said that the school of Novels originated from when a cultivator went travelling in the ancient times. He heard about a monster that specially drained the vitality of children in the local region. All the children that had been caught by the monster would die from atrophy. It filled the entire city with fear, enough to make people pale from the slightest mention of the monster.
However, the cultivator had never heard of this monster before. After a close inspection, he discovered that it was not a monster running amok. Instead, it was a strange disease, and the reason for it was because all the wells in the city had been contaminated by a special spiritual stone vein. Children possessed weaker bodies, so they were unable to fight it off, but adults would be fine.
He purified the water source with his powers and healed the children, resolving everything. Afterwards, just when he was preparing to leave, he personally witnessed the monster, and it was exactly the same as the rumors.
A monster that never existed had actually appeared in the world, as people believed in its existence. The powerful belief gathered to form a power, but that was still not enough. It required some sort of… critical component.
He discovered that the spiritual stone vein that contaminated the water source formed a strange loop, like some kind of inscription or formation, providing this component. He began to think. Could his powers provide this component to?
This paved a brand new path of cultivation. In the very beginning, all it did was record the gossips and strange legends among the people, turning it into tales and rumours, which would then be passed on through word of mouth. After generations upon generations of inheritance and improvements, especially after the school of Mohism invented mechanisms for printing books, it finally became the school of Novels of the present day.
Repeat a lie enough and it would become the truth. They used ink and brushes to create tales, using themselves to provide this component. As a result, fantasy would spring alive in their hands. It could create anything and everything. In terms of being interesting, there were probably no schools that could rival the school of Novels.
However, Li Qingshan had already witnessed its battle applicability. Unfortunately, all it was was interesting. Being interesting was not enough to defeat opponents. Writing a novel that people actually believed to be real, with characters that they would cry and laugh along with, was probably even more difficult than managing a city. It was not like cultivators lacked money anyway when it came to running a city. All they needed to do was hire a few advisors skilled in administration and pour in a few million taels of silver, and the place would prosper by itself.
Li Qingshan had read several impressive novels in his past life, and he did not mind becoming a plagiarist, but he had almost no impression of them anymore after almost two decades. Compared to that, he would be much better off if he just stuck with his Gui Water Method of Condensing Qi!
Faced with Liu Chuanfeng’s eager gaze, Li Qingshan shook his head and declined. “Thanks, but there’s no need for that. Where’s my room?”
Liu Chuanfeng was completely disappointed. He forced out a smile. “It’s very big here, so anywhere you’d like.”
Li Qingshan bowed slightly and left. He wandered through the courtyard and the building. He discovered that while it was not on par with the temple in the school of Daoism, it was not exactly small either.
The elevated bamboo and wood structure formed several winding corridors. As he walked through them, the clear sound of footsteps would echo around. The spring breeze would blow into his face, and the bamboo grove would sway. There was a slight chill in the air.
With his footsteps, he would gradually kick up ripples in the water below the bamboo building. The water gradually grew deeper too. When he arrived at the back of the courtyard and opened the bamboo door, a small, jade-green lake reflected the blue sky and verdant bamboo before him. It was a wonderful sight.
A bamboo rocking chair stood on the porch quietly. Li Qingshan sat down on it, and with a creak, it swayed gently, as if he could pass his entire life in a trance and wash away his carnal thoughts like this.
He sat there for a while before standing up. He smiled. He finally had a place of belonging now. He did not have to worry about his life being in danger, nor did he have to think about killing others here. He could cultivate slowly.
Now, it was time to go see Xiao An.
Arriving at the front room, Liu Chuanfeng was no longer there. A set of blue robes were folded neatly at the door, with a Cloudwisp brush on top.
Li Qingshan put on the clothes, stowed the brush away, and wore the tablet on his waist. He rode off on a cloud, flying towards Anāsravāṃ island of the school of Buddhism.
The full name of the island was Threefold Anāsravāṃ island, based off the threefold training1 and practises of buddhism—śīla, samādhi, and prajñā, or moral virtue and precepts, meditation, and wisdom and insight respectively. As mentioned in buddhist scriptures, “Gathering your mind results in moral virtue. From moral virtue arises mental training and stability, and from mental training and stability arises wisdom and insight. This is called the Threefold Anāsravāṃ disciplines.” The place was also known as Threefold Disciplines island, or Moral Virtue, Meditation, and Wisdom island.
Arriving above the island and looking over from afar, buddhist pagodas were scattered across the place, full of solemnity. He could vaguely hear the chanting of buddhist scriptures. It rivaled the school of Daoism’s Wuwei island in terms of scope. Xiao An was here.
In the Sea of Books within the Town of Flowing Clouds, Liu Chuanfeng bowed all the way to the ground as soon as he entered through the door.
Sun Fubai’s heart sank. “Junior brother, what are you doing? Don’t tell me… the school of Novels has been abolished?”
The hundred schools in the academy were not fixed. There were some differences from prefecture to prefecture. Apart from the ten standard schools2, there were many places that did not possess minor schools like the school of Music, the school of Medicine, and so on.
The academies also practised the survival of the fittest. It had been several years since the school of Novels had gained a disciple, so the various school leaders had already submitted a written statement together to the Academy of the Hundred Schools in the Ruyi commandery so that they could remove this stain in the academy of the Clear River prefecture.
If the school of Novels were not a part of the ten standard schools that the founding emperor had designated, the higher-ups would have accepted their request a long time ago. But even with that being the case, they had issued an ultimatum. If the school leader, Liu Chuanfeng, was unable to reach Foundation Establishment or accept any new disciples, then they would abolish the school of Novels in the Clear River prefecture and take back Cloudwisp island so that another school could occupy the island.
Sun Fubai originated from the school of Novels. He was unwilling to see this happen, so having run out of choices, he would try whenever he saw a slightly talented Qi Practitioner. There was always a possibility, but he had actually given up on all hope too.
Liu Chuanfeng shook his head hurriedly. “Thank you, senior brother. Thank you, senior brother. Our school of Novels has gained a successor. There’s no need to worry about it being abolished.”
“Who is it?” Sun Fubai widened his eyes. Just who was so unlucky?
“Li Qingshan!” He might have had a bad temper and might have been unwilling to learn the secret arts of the school of Novels, but he was truly the primary disciple of the school of Novels.
Sun Fubai remained dazed for quite a while. His eyes reddened slightly too. His hard work had finally paid off.
“Boss, do you have any cultivation methods?” A while later, a Qi Practitioner walked in and just happened to see Liu Chuanfeng and Sun Fubai holding hands and looking at one another with tearful eyes. He was actually left speechless, leaping up in fright and backing out of the store in a hurry.
After Li Qingshan’s departure, the slovenly daoist priest lectured the methods of daoism a little further in order to demonstrate his tolerance before dispersing everyone. He asked Juechenzi, “Where has that bastard gone?”
Juechenzi said, “Master, he seems to have… he seems to have…”
“What’re you stuttering for? Spit it out? Has he gone to plead with that damned bald ass One Thought? Or has he gone to find Liu Zhangqing for a retest?”
Juechenzi said, “Neither. He has gone to Cloudwisp island.”
The slovenly daoist priest said, “What? Why didn’t you tell me sooner?”
Juechenzi said, “I wanted to tell you earlier, but as soon as I mentioned Li Qingshan’s name, you told me to shut up.”
The slovenly daoist priest slapped his thigh. “My word! He might as well go find that damn bald ass and become a monk instead. Get him to piss over here. I’ll accept him into my school of Daoism.”
Juechenzi said, “It’s already too late. School leader Liu handed in the register immediately. Li Qingshan has already become a disciple of the school of Novels, and he’s the primary disciple.”
The academy had its rules. No matter how they contended against one another during the entrance examination, once a disciple joined a school, that was it. No one could change that, or the academy would have been reduced to a mess a long time ago.
The slovenly daoist priest felt regret. Li Qingshan’s inflexible will and staunchness suited his tastes very much. Others might have deemed him to be rude seeing how he openly cursed at a school leader, a Foundation Establishment cultivator, but he felt some admiration outside of his anger. When he was young, he was also renowned for his hubris and rudeness. Who knew how much suffering he had gone through because of his horrible temperament.
“Master, you should’ve just stuck to scolding him a little. What you said towards the end was just too insulting. It’s no wonder that he couldn’t put up with it any longer.”
“Are you saying that your master is in the wrong?”
“Disciple dares not.”
The slovenly daoist priest was utterly miffed. “Of all the normal choices he had, he just had to choose to go write novels. I’d like to see just what he turns into.”
1. The island is basically named after the Threefold Training or Disciplines prevalent within buddhism, which involves following precepts, meditating, and gaining wisdom and insight. Anāsravāṃ in this context means that these three disciplines are karma-neutral practices—they don’t come at the cost of karma and merit, allowing for liberation from suffering in the end. Anāsravāṃ is the opposite of sāsrava, which does come at a cost of karma and merit, so while you can derive benefit in the present, sāsrava practises are likely to lead to negative consequences in the future.
Anyway, you can read more about the Threefold Disciplines here:
2. The ten standard schools in this case consist of the schools of Confucianism, Daoism, Buddhism, Yin-yang, Legalism, Names, Mohism, Miscellany, Agriculture, and Novels. Normally, the school of Diplomacy would replace the school of Buddhism, but seeing how a school of Diplomacy was never mentioned, I assumed it was the school of Buddhism instead. If the school of Novels is removed from the list, it is also known as the nine streams of thought, or just the nine streams.