Volume 1, Chapter 10 – Heavenly Sects’ Contention at the Clear Sky Peak (Part 1)
For 10 consecutive days, Zhang Yan was closed up, cultivating and meditating to breakthrough to the next cultivation realm.
However, he couldn’t figure out the reason why he wasn’t able to breakthrough. The flow of Qi was smooth and could move freely along his meridian paths. He could even feel that the Qi in his Dantian was also growing more powerful. Yet, he still couldn’t break through the last step.
It was not like the last breakthrough. Zhang Yan felt quite disappointed, but he also realized that this was reasonable. He had built a very solid foundation after three years of hard work and successfully broke through once he obtained an advanced law. It seemed that such good luck would not come too often.
If that was the case, there was no need to force it.
On the path of cultivation, sometimes one must be determined and persevere, to forcefully brave forward through all obstacles. But sometimes, one must also know when to quit and not to be restless because of failures. In this case, one must put the whole picture into mind and patiently move forward. The choices must also be decided by one’s own mind and heart. Besides, Zhang Yan had the required Dao laws and sufficient compounded pills to aid his cultivation. To breakthrough into the next cultivation realm only required one last step, so, there was no need to rush it in the next 2 or 3 days.
A few days ago, Ai Zhongwen had come to invite him to the cultivator’s assembly together, of which he had accepted.
And seeing the time now, the convention should have been opened for three days. However, since this assembly would be a month long, even if he was eager to make a name for himself, there was no need to rush it.
Early morning the next day, at about 4 AM, Zhang Yan just came out from a bath and changed his robe calmly. He put on a cloud-patterned Daoist robe. After he felt that he had been fully prepared, he then went out and headed straight for Clear Sky Peak.
Clear Sky Peak was the sixth main peak in Cangwu Mountain. There was a Daoist Temple built on top of the mountain peak called Heaven Grace Temple. The temple occupied a wide opened space in this peak. A waterfall flowed there and made the peak’s scenery look beautiful. As it was the most beautiful peak of all 18 peaks. The current assembly event was being held at this temple. As Zhang Yan was walking on the mountain road, he stopped to take in the broad view. Many disciples from various sects and families had come and gathered here. Some were walking, while some others were engaged in conversation. The cultivators who came here looked very much alike, most of them gave off a scholarly-like aura. As they looked powerful with their big sleeved robes unceasingly fluttering, due to the Qi that was emitted from their body.
An hour later, Zhang Yan finally arrived at the front gate of Heaven Grace Temple.
The temple’s front gate led to the assembly place, which was divided into three passageways. Each had a written sign on top of it, which were: the ‘heaven’, the ‘earth’, and the ‘man’. The ‘heaven’ gate was reserved for the convention’s officials and the sect’s hosts’ disciples. The ‘earth’ gate was for cultivators or disciples from various sects and families who would participate in the competition, as for the ‘man’ gate, it was used for nobles, aristocrats, and royalty.
Zhang Yan was a disciple from the Profound Virtue Temple so he must enter from the ‘heaven’ gate. He took out the bronze invitation token. The child servant didn’t stop him and quickly let him passed through the gate.
However, when his foot stepped into the gate, someone suddenly stopped him and coldly spoke, “Stop! From which school are you from?”
Zhang Yan glanced at a person who stopped him. It was a beautiful Daoist nun, who was about 30 years old with white skin, who was holding a horsetail whisk. But this Daoist nun’s brow was raised, with a man-like straight nose and fierce eyes. Anyone could see that this nun gave off the impression that she was a strong and upright person.
Zhang Yang made a disciple greeting to the Daoist nun, “Disciple is Zhang Yan from the Profound Virtue Temple.”
“You are Zhang Yan?” This Daoist nun seemed to have heard Zhang Yan’s name. She sized up Zhang Yan for a while before speaking, “I heard you are very proficient in the Eclipse codes, then I want to ask you: What kind of law or meaning is derived from the ‘Elephant in the River’ mnemonic?”
Zhang Yan didn’t even waste time to think as he immediately answered, “The mnemonic stems from the ‘New Stories Compilation’, which was written by Kong Lan a hundred years ago.
“The ‘New Stories Compilation’ was a travelogue and contained this ‘Elephant in the River’ story.
“It was said that during the ancient primordial times, a group of villagers lived at the foot of a mountain. Due to the water’s scarcity, those villagers relied on the Spirit River to survive. However, this Spirit River could only provide water sporadically. This condition made the villagers extremely miserable. They blamed it on the elephants that had always been playing and strolling near the river. They repeatedly tried to drive away the elephants, but to no avail. Finally, they captured and killed one of the elephants to make the river water smoothly flow from the mountain.
“However, the villagers didn’t know that there was a giant serpent which was closed up in cultivating. Every time this giant serpent came out to drink the water from the river, the elephants always drove it away. Because one of the elephants was dead, this elephant herd couldn’t stop the giant serpent anymore. After the giant snake successfully broke through and became a demon cultivator, it descended the mountain and ate humans every day, of which made the villagers completely disperse.”
The Daoist nun stared into Zhang Yan’s eyes, “Since you know about it, I now ask you: If you were one of those villagers, what would you do?”
The story’s true intention was to give a warning to cultivators, that they should not be distracted and confused by immediate circumstances at present. However, they must trace and analyze the cause, to find a proper way to deal with the problem. This was the true reason why teachers and masters constantly checked the disposition and character development of all senior disciples through this type of inquiry.
Some disciples believed that although the river water was intermittent, the villagers would survive. Therefore, they should’ve maintained the present status quo and endured. Some other disciples believed that since the villagers were able to kill the elephant, they should also be able to kill the giant serpent. Of which, the villagers should then leave for the upstream to kill the giant serpent. Other disciples thought that the villagers didn’t know what they had done and because it had happened, they should offer one villager to feed the serpent every day.
In short, all answers were strange and unusual, as well as humorous.
Zhang Yan pondered for a short while before immediately replying without hesitation, “I would kill those elephants.”
The Daoist nun eyes flashed and demanded more answers, “Why?”
Zhang Yan replied in a deep tone, “At present, there were perhaps only ten elephants, but if they were allowed and given time to multiply, who knows if they would still be docile tomorrow. And if they would consume more water? If there were more than one group of elephants, one day, the Spirit River would finally be dried up because of this. Thus, there’s no other alternative but to kill one of these elephants. Ten elephants can chase and drive away the giant serpent, indicating that this herd of elephants is very strong. Losing a few lives here wouldn’t affect the overall situation because the water was originally very scarce. Therefore, the rest of the villagers could perhaps continue on living, and that would not cause the giant serpent to come out and swallow the humans.”
Since the storybook didn’t have a fixed correct answer, the Daoist nun’s expression didn’t change. She opened the access gate and said, “You can go in.”
Zhang Yan made a courtesy gesture, lifted up his Daoist robe, then walked across the gate and straightly strode forward.
It wasn’t long after he left that a young girl flashed toward the Daoist nun’s side near the gate. She was Zhao Ying, Zhao Yuan’s younger sister.
She held the Daoist nun’s arm and shook it, complaining, “Martial Aunt, why did you let that little thief pass so easily? He had made my big brother vomit blood. I want to him to pay for that.”
The nun patted Zhao Ying’s head, spoiling her, “Did you know that your master had asked the same question to your Martial Ancestor years ago?”
Zhao Ying’s curiosity was evoked, “What did Master answer before?”
“Kill the elephants.”
Zhao Ying was surprised, “My Master also had the same answer?”
“Your Martial Ancestor was also very satisfied with your Master’s answer. Later, I asked your Master the reason behind the answer. Philosophically, nine is the highest number although it is less than ten. Ten is too many, of which, this meant that one must stop being a perfectionist. This was a heavenly law and led to the reason why an elephant had to be killed.” The Daoist nun sighed and said, “Zhang Yan’s idea is, without a doubt, in accordance with the heavenly law. Such a person’s achievement would be immeasurable in the future. We cannot offend the present him easily, do you understand?”
Zhao Ying only nodded, although she did not quite understand the answer.
The Martial Aunt looked with rapt attention to the distance and seemed to deeply think about something.
In fact, Zhao Ying’s Master’s answer was not “kill an elephant”, but “keep nine elephants”. Although these words “kill one elephant” and “keep nine elephants” didn’t have any essential difference, it clearly showed the difference in one’s heart resolution. From the answer, it could be seen that Zhang Yan’s disposition was decisive, but without losing his caution and reasons. His answer showed that he would kill if necessary and without hesitation at that. His eyes and expression gave off a shocking impression which made Zhao Ying’s Martial Aunt unconsciously scared.
Although she was inferior to her Senior Brother who was versatile and intelligent, she was still able to perceive that Zhang Yan was a person who had a big destiny. Of which, immediately made her sigh spontaneously. She didn’t know if such a person studying in Cangwu Mountain would be a blessing or a curse.
Zhang Yan stepped into the entrance gate and headed straight for the second gate. He didn’t know that in these three days, the Blue Ocean Sect’s disciples from various origins who entered this assembly were all stuck in a difficult position. That was because the second gate was blocked. Nobody amongst the disciples of the Three Great Schools could go to the mountain peak. They precisely knew why – they were not good and strong enough.
Three years ago, the Great Southern Sect was the host of the Dao laws convention. At that time, the Blue Ocean Sect sent a disciple named Chen Feng. Of whom his younger sister was a disciple of a certain master from the Great Southern Sect a decade ago. She then died a tragic death, and no one knew about the true cause. This incident made the two sects go into feud afterward.
Chen Feng took advantage of this year’s grand event as he then blocked the heavenly gate, and threatened that he must send back all disciples from the Great Southern Sect, whoever they are.
There was an unwritten custom that disciples who felt that they had an extraordinary ability, were permitted to block and challenge other sect’s disciples on the entrance passageway – thus, using this grand event to become famous. Regardless of the outcome, winning or losing, nobody would even care about the result. Therefore, the Great Southern Sect disciples were all stuck at this entrance passage.
Be it interpreting the Dao manuals or even having a duel and comparing martial arts prowess, all the Great Southern Sect’s disciples were defeated by the hands of Chen Feng one after another. Originally, the visiting disciples thought that he would quit afterward and no one would blame him for his actions. Who would have imagined that Chen Feng nevertheless forbid all the Great Southern Sect’s disciples from passing through the passageway. This Chen Feng even said that all the Great Southern Sect’s disciples shall not enter this entrance until the convention was finished.
As a result, some people were finally unable to tolerate him. The Vast Origin Sect, of which had good relations with the Great Southern Sect, sent dozens of disciples to contend with Chen Feng on interpreting text or with martial art prowess. Nobody had thought that this Chen Feng, even though he was against so many, didn’t even budge and drop to the wind. Instead, he badly beat those disciples. Chen Feng outrageously said that aside from the Great Southern Sect, all disciples from the Vast Origin Sect were also not allowed to pass.
This incident in the early month of the convention made all disciples from the Great Southern Sect and the Vast Origin Sect unable to enter the entrance to the convention. This caused these two sects to lose their reputation greatly, of which caused them to harbor great resentment. The Blue Ocean Sect was the host of the grand event this year, and it was a great chance for the two sects’ disciples to gain fame. However, the host’s officials seemed to have purposefully played deaf and dumb and blatantly ignored this incident.
Originally, after coming back to the mountain three years ago, Chen Feng had successfully opened his immortal meridians and was promoted to the Blue Ocean Sect’s upper court to practice. His present status naturally made it impossible for him to come to the convention again. But after being warned, he then casually left the entrance gate without any punishment and saved the evil and troublesome consequences for the three temples’ disciples that were present at the moment. 
At the entrances’ side hall, more than 20 inner disciples from the three schools of the Blue Ocean Sect’s lower court were gathered. These disciples all originated from an ancient family background, they usually only socialized with those in their own circle all the time and were rarely seen. Therefore, most disciples in Cangwu Mountain only knew their names, without knowing their true appearance.
At this time, there was a disciple who sat on the first row, named Zheng Xun. a disciple from the Ethics Academic Temple. He was the oldest and strongest amongst them. However, he was peace-loving, thus, he tended to avoid fighting.
It was the second day since the road had been blocked by Mo Yuan after Chen Feng left. Zheng Xun originally intended to attend the convention and enter the competition and did not pay attention to the previous incident. However, he just found out that there were no disciples from the three temples that could enter the convention. He knew that this was a retaliation from the Vast Origin Sect’s disciples. The Blue Ocean Sect, as the host, didn’t even have any disciples at the convention today. This would make them greatly lose their reputation. Therefore, he summoned all the inner disciples to discuss a countermeasure together.
Zheng Xun deeply sighed, “This Vast Origin’s Junior Brother Mo Yuan is only a teenager, but I heard that he was able to interpret the Eclipse codes in such a short time. At present, I had sent Junior Brother He and Junior Brother Zhen to contend with him. Whether they win or not, we can only wait for the outcome.”
After a little while, a youth came and entered the hall. He greeted all the disciples there, as he looked dejected and low spirited as he said, “I’m really sorry fellow brothers. My ability is inferior to him, we can only place our hope on Senior Brother Zhen. I’m really ashamed.”
Everyone was silent.
15 minutes later, another youth entered, and reported: “Fellow brothers, Senior Brother Zhen fainted.”
All the disciples looked at each other, dismayed. One of them stood and desolately replied: “Could it be that Mo Yuan could not win, so he resorted to force?”
The youth quickly replied, “No, he didn’t. It was because Senior Brother Zhen’s mind was exhausted.”
That disciple snorted and sat back down. He anxiously wanted to get involved. However, this Mo Yuan from the Vast Origin Sect was only a 13 year old teenager. Even if he was stronger and won, his reputation would suffer, and it would not be pleasant to hear other’s mockeries because of it.
Zheng Xun’s eyes fell onto a teenager in a white robe, “Junior Brother Chen, you…”
This Junior Brother Chen waved his hands repeatedly, “Senior Brother Zheng, you don’t need to say anything. I come from Chen Family, but it is also inconvenient for me to step forward right now.”
Chen Feng came from the famous ancient Chen Family. This Junior Brother Chen came from the Chen Family in Old River City. Although the two families originated from the same clan and still used the same family name, they had long been separated. Although this Chen youth said that he didn’t want to come forward and used this reason as an excuse, his reason was actually not strong enough. However, Zheng Xun was not a person who was able to force his will upon others. He immediately changed his sight to another youth whose expression was solemn and cold.
“Lin Yuan, Junior Brother Lin…”
Lin Yuan shook his head, “Mo Yuan is only 13-year-old, it would bring no honor to win against him in a martial arts duel. Senior brother, you know that I have always valued my family’s reputation, so please don’t force me to act.”
Zheng Xun only smiled bitterly. However, he continued asking a few other disciples. Some used an excuse that Mo Yuan was a novice disciple or an outer disciple. Therefore, they didn’t want to lower their status, and even if they could win against Mo Yuan, they would only be laughed at later. Some used an excuse that they didn’t want to ruin their reputation because they would only be bullying the weak. While the rest used other pretexts, that they overly exercised in their martial arts recently and were exhausted, causing their mind and body to be unfit, much less dueling someone.
In short… no one was willing to go.
In actuality, they obviously knew that this Mo Yuan was a child prodigy. They also saw previously, that two elite disciples had been beaten by him. If they were unable to win, not only would their family lose reputation, they also would bring disgrace to their school’s prestige. Naturally, because they originated from a famous family, they could only stay idle and refuse to act.
Ai Zhongwen who sat in the furthermost back row couldn’t help but shake his head when hearing such words. It was such a deadlock, when will it be over? How could they say they want to defend the Blue Ocean Sect’s honor?
He thought about something, stood and loudly spoke, “Senior Brother Zheng, I know a disciple from the Profound Virtue Temple who is very proficient in the Eclipse text. I’m absolutely sure that he would be far better than that Mo Yuan.”
 The Three Great Schools of the Blue Ocean Sect are: Profound Virtue Temple, Ethic Academic Temple, and Great Tranquility Temple. These three schools are Blue Ocean Sect’s lower court. As for the upper court, I think the author would explain in the later chapters. I read the novel while translating it. So don’t ask me about spoilers… XD