Chapter 299 – The Night of the Rise of the School of Novels
Li Qingshan roused from his meditative state. By then, the moon had already risen to the centre of the sky, illuminating the ground with a silver glow.
The moonlight carved up the rows upon rows of bamboo structures into light and shadows.
On the ground, a pillar of light rose up into the air, complementing the moonlight.
Suddenly, he realised that he was in the pillar of light. It was the light gathered by the formation.
Within his sea of qi, his true qi became even more plentiful. Under the suppression of the spirit turtle and the purification of the sumeru ring, it was like a clear, boundless lake, sitting still without the slightest ripple. However, as long as he needed to, he could create great waves in it and destroy everything before him.
Li Qingshan smiled. With the assistance of this formation, there were no longer any obstacles to him as a Qi Practitioner. He made his way out of the formation and followed the crisscrossing corridors, returning to his residence, a bamboo building by the lake.
After he had chosen it in the morning, he did not even have the time to tidy through it.
He was about to stay for a very long time in the academy, so he had to tidy and clean it properly.
Lantern light shimmered in the bamboo structure, along with a few soft voices. Li Qingshan smiled and entered through the door.
Liu Chuanfeng and Sun Fubai currently sat before one another. They turned their heads together. “Qingshan.”
Li Qingshan made his way over to the table and sat down. He asked nonchalantly, “Have you decided?”
“I have.” Liu Chuanfeng’s eyes were red as if he had cried earlier. Agreeing to Li Qingshan’s condition was equivalent to casting aside all of his hard work in the past. It also meant that all the characters he had created one by one would leave him forever, never to appear in this world again.
Even if they were all fake, without the slightest sense of liveliness, they had accompanied him through countless days and nights after all. If it were not for Sun Fubai’s persuasions, he would have never decided in such a short amount of time.
Sun Fubai said, “When the sun rises, I’ll order people to recall and destroy those novels.”
Li Qingshan said, “Then there’s no need for that. You can just let them fade away by themselves.”
“Huh?” Liu Chuanfeng widened his eyes.
Li Qingshan said, “All I need is your determination. I hate people who don’t want to sacrifice anything and just want to sit there, waiting for someone else to come save them. Fortunately, you’re not one of them.”
As if he had been saved from a hopeless situation, Liu Chuanfeng grabbed Li Qingshan’s hands and thanked him incessantly.
After he calmed down, Li Qingshan said, “Then let’s begin!”
“How do we begin?” Liu Chuanfeng and Sun Fubai looked at one another.
Li Qingshan shrugged. “By teaching me the cultivation method of the school of Novels of course.”
“Y- you’re willing to learn?” Liu Chuanfeng asked in disbelief. Li Qingshan had been quite firm with his attitude originally.
“Not necessarily. I need to understand it first, but there’s a possibility that I’ll learn it. I’m not the saviour of the world. It’s not like I can save the school of Novels without even understanding the predicament it’s in,” Li Qingshan said obviously. The principle he followed was going all the way, or not even starting.
Liu Chuanfeng was emotional, but Sun Fubai was slightly worried. Could it still be revived when fresh, new blood was channeled into this old, rotting body? Or would the blood just go to waste along with it?
But regardless of all that, the school of Novels that had halted for many years began to advance forwards once again.
“Senior brother, you tell him!”
Sun Fubai cleared his throat and began the lesson.
The cultivation method of the school of Novels was not difficult to practise. As a matter of fact, there was not even the need to practise a different cultivation method. Just using the Gui Water Method of Condensing Qi as a foundation was enough. All that was needed was to condense a divine talisman within the body.
Divine talismans could be regarded as a type of spiritual talisman, but it was no ordinary spiritual talisman. Spiritual talismans were documents of the world. Cultivators could use them to connect with the world. However, divine talismans could connect with another special power, which was the power of belief that came from the minds of living beings.
Cultivators with divine talismans would possess special characteristics that regular people believed belonged to gods. The name of the divine talisman was the Talisman of Great Creation.
In the distant past, the ancient cultivator copied the twisted shape of the underground spiritual vein. That was the basic form of the Talisman of Great Creation. The first step for a disciple of novels was to condense this divine talisman.
This was not anything difficult to Li Qingshan. He estimated that he could complete it within ten days at most. His high jia affinity for water played a crucial role here.
However, this was only the most simple step to a disciple of novels. Gathering the power of belief and strengthening this divine talisman was the hardest part.
Writing a legendary novel was anything but easy, but in Li Qingshan’s past life, he had witnessed many people achieve a feat like that! He had personally witnessed the birth of many legendary characters. With the existence of the Divine Talisman of Great Creation, they would definitely be able to appear in this world alive.
Then, what was he supposed to do right now? Which book was he supposed to copy?
Seeing how Li Qingshan was now willing to learn the cultivation method of the school of Novels and that there was no need for him to destroy his novels anymore, Liu Chuanfeng recovered mentally. He said proudly, “You might look down on me, but writing novels really isn’t easy. In terms of writing novels, you probably can’t match me.”
Li Qingshan agreed deeply. He had never been someone who could sit down and write novels. He could not recall all those words from his past life, but even if he did, could it change anything at all?
Those stories that catered to modern tastes would probably fail to conform to the norms of people of the current age. In the end, they would just be written off as a madman’s spoutings. Even if he managed to create a legendary classic through plagiarism, just how many years would it take before it took off? Even if he succeeded in the end, against all odds, it would all just be about him. It was not saving the school of Novels.
Sun Fubai had thought of this problem a long time ago. He sighed with worry. “It’s not that easy!”
Li Qingshan said confidently, “I think you’ve been missing the most critical issue!”
“Whether it’s novels or the divine talisman, they’re just components to the process. The most critical aspect is the medium!”
“What does medium mean?” This new vocabulary left Sun Fubai and Liu Chuanfeng rather perplexed.
Li Qingshan gave a slight explanation. “It’s the same as the channels of distribution. Even if you can write the novels, it’s useless if no one reads them.”
Liu Chuanfeng still did not understand. “If you think that’s the issue, then you’re completely underestimating us.”
Only then did Li Qingshan learn that Sun Fubai possessed an extremely large business within the world of regular people. All the major publishing houses of the Clear River prefecture were under his name. As long as Liu Chuanfeng wrote something, no matter how unimpressive the content was, it could be printed in mass quantity using the printers created by the school of Mohism. Then, it would be distributed to the book stores in various places. Every single book could be sold for a low price, or even given away for free, but it was all useless.
Li Qingshan smiled. “Is that it?”
“How else are you supposed to do it?” Liu Chuanfeng asked.
Li Qingshan said, “I was born in a tiny mountain village. There was not a single bookstore there. I went over a dozen years without reading a single book. You could count the number of people who can read there on a single hand.”
“So what?” Liu Chuanfeng was confused. It was very normal for those ignorant people of mountain villages to be unable to read. Even regular scholars looked down on these people, let alone mighty Qi Practitioners.
However, Sun Fubai seemed to pick up on something.
Then Li Qingshan said, “You said earlier that the officials who rule over a region from the school of Confucianism also condense a divine talisman in their bodies, right?”
“Yeah, the divine talisman is called the Talisman of Great Virtue. It’s actually just the school of Daoism’s original Talisman of Merit.”
Merit was an extremely important concept to ancient cultivators. The difficulty of cultivation and the threats of daemons and monsters forced them to use all the power available to them.
These two divine talismans used completely different powers from the minds of people. One was belief, while the other was gratitude. After doing good, people would often establish memorial tablets and tend to it daily out of gratitude towards their benefactors.
Although Talismans of Merit could not turn fiction into reality like the Talisman of Great Creation, it did build up good fortune and could nullify calamities.
In that chaotic age when daemons ran amuck, luck was even more important than power. Cultivators would often face awkward situations like running into a dog after taking a turn, only for it to be a Daemon General. No matter how talented you were, the only fate that awaited you was becoming a snack.
What, you’re a Foundation Establishment cultivator? Do you really think Daemon Commanders won’t be strolling around? If not them, what about powerful members of the otherfolk and terrifying demonic cultivators?
The power of the individual was just too miniscule. Even if they hid for their entire lives and cultivated in seclusion, bad luck would still be unavoidable.
As a result, learning divination and building up merit became crucial aspects to cultivators. Being able to forecast these situations or being in possession of some additional luck to avoid these situations were critical.
But in this day and age, there was no need to worry about those situations anymore. Although cultivators still contended and competed against one another, all of it seemed extremely gentle and cute before daemons, otherfolk, and demons.
As a result, devoting effort into accumulating merit was not particularly useful anymore. Only the worthless disciples of the school of Confucianism would take the path of officialdom, which made quite a lot of cultivators lament over the collapse of virtue and how people were not like how they used to be anymore.
Sun Fubai asked, “Qingshan, you mean?”
Li Qingshan said, “I mean you’ve mistaken your identities right from the very beginning. The school of Novels is not about how to write stories, but like the officials from the school of Confucianism, to manage this land that stretches fifteen hundred kilometers and get as many people as possible to become disseminators of the stories.”
“You might think that these people are very ignorant, but since when did we need clever people? Isn’t it exactly the ignorant who believed in ghosts and monsters, which made them real? To be honest, I hold no prejudice against you for writing those things. I just dislike it, but just because I dislike it, it doesn’t mean that everyone dislikes it.”
“I believe they don’t have any particularly high requirements for stories. As a matter of fact, I think they would much prefer those stories that you write to those poems and lyrics written by great confucian scholars. An audience for the literarily supreme can never surpass an audience for the good and simple.”
Liu Wenchuan’s eyes lit up. If he really managed to achieve that, breaking through to Foundation Establishment would become anything but difficult. However, he was still distressed. “But they can’t read!” Surely he could not spend a few years teaching old farmers how to read!
“This is just the most long-term plan and strategy. We might not be able to teach old farmers how to read, but can’t we just teach children? It’s not like we lack money. All we need to do is establish a few hundred or a few thousand private institutions… of hope and teach children how to read for free. There’ll be a day when they become the footstone of the school of Novels.”
Sun Fubai was also stunned by Li Qingshan’s plan. His insight had completely exceeded their imaginations. Even the school of Confucianism that focused on education without discrimination and enriching the public had never thought of setting up these private institutions… of hope, hoping they would never learn to read and just continue their peaceful lives as simple people.
This plan just seemed so logical. They had only ever thought about how to write touching novels, not how to nurture readers, much less from these ignorant farmers who stood at the bottom of the social hierarchy. Perhaps, it was exactly because he came from a mountain village that he could come up with this idea!
The idea of private institutions of hope was utterly fantastic. They could even use novels as materials for education, but obviously not with what Liu Chuanfeng wrote. After all, he was the one who was determined for Liu Chuanfeng to destroy these books in the first place. They felt like a light bulb had lit up before them, and as they thought about it, the light bulb turned into a scorching sun very soon.
Li QIngshan gave them time to digest the ideas. Then he said, “If we look closer, it’s not just written words that can spread stories!”
In the day and age he originally came from, there still were not a lot of people who were willing to sit down and read. However, through the various mediums available, they still managed to create more “gods” within the past twenty years than the past two thousand years.
Sun Fubai’s mind had been opened. “Do you mean?”
“We need storytellers, singers, actors, everyone and anyone who can disseminate our stories. Afterwards, we’ll band them together and form- form an association, called the Cloudwisp association.” Li Qingshan extended his right hand; he suddenly closed it before swinging it. “We’ll get them to travel to every corner of the Clear River prefecture to spread the stories we write.”
These people were truly of the bottom class in this world. They were despised wherever they went. Their statuses were even lower than farmers. Who knew how many worlds separated Qi Practitioners from them, yet they needed to use their power right now. Liu Chuanfeng and Sun Fubai would have never even thought of this, but with further thought, they found it very reasonable.
When Li Qingshan originally said he could save the school of Novels, they were not completely convinced. They were thinking about just trying whatever he said for the moment. But now, they were completely convinced. This idea could definitely work. If they went with Li Qingshan’s ideas, the school of Novels had a future.
“Stop bending over your desk and writing. Go outside and build all of this. It might take some time, but as long as you succeed, there’ll be quite a lot of people who’ll believe you even if you say the world will end next year. What kind of power will we have then? The power to end the world?” Li Qingshan said jokingly.
Sun Fubai and Liu Chuanfeng had never been so excited before. There was only a single thought in their heads—the school of Novels could be saved!
“Fubai, this will be very troublesome to achieve, so you’ll need to use your forces among regular people. We’ll need to recruit as many helpers as we can to achieve this bit by bit.”
Sun Fubai smiled and waved his hand. “It won’t be troublesome; it won’t be troublesome at all.” With his age, his cultivation had halted a long time ago. There was no longer a lot of meaning in continuing with it. However, if he really succeeded with this, it would be possible for his cultivation to advance even further and reach a realm he had never even imagined originally.
The power gathered by the divine talisman was a power that surpassed the conventions of cultivation in the first place. Whether it was for the school of Novels or for himself, he had to do his best.
On this night with a bright moon, the reason for the rise of the school of Novels was planted.