Chapter 7: The Illuminated Jade Slips

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“Huh?”Li YunXin blinked, “What does that mean?”

The facial expressions of ChiSongZi and KangCangZi changed, but these changes were too slight for an ordinary person to notice.

“Have you ever heard of painters, little brother?”KangCangZi asked.

Li YunXin raised his eyebrows. “Well, my father had mentioned them before.”He said.

KangCangZi said:“Your father knew about them? He must be really knowledgeable. What did he do?”

ChiSongZi winked at KangCangZi, and said: “Painters are commonly seen in the secular world, but we are talking about those ancient masters.

Most of the painters now are swindlers, and the rest of them are totally not a match for the ancient masters. In the famous paintings of the masters, spirits and emotions were sealed. For example, A thousand Miles of Bleak Scene, which is now kept by Supreme Clarity Alchemy School*. If you touch the the painting with your soul, you will feel the depressed emotion within it. When the ancient master’s brush touched the paper, the spirits and the painter’s understanding of Taoism were sealed in it, and that’s why these paintings felt real. Admiring these paintings, you will feel like the ancient masters are pouring daigo on your head*.”

1713_P_1241982670791
Daigo, a kind of cheese

“Without the help of these paintings, to make progress in our cultivation, we must travel from east to west, with the wind and dew for meals, and experience endless meditations.”ChiSongZi sighed, “Countless outstanding cultivators stopped one step away from their goal and died in depression just because they lacked the inspiration of the paintings.”

Li YunXin blinked, and said: “You mean we can take the experience of the maters by feeling the emotions they sealed in their painting? Sounds like harvesting the fruits without taking care of the trees.”

“Exactly.”

“Why don’t you create more paintings, since they are so effective.”

With a bitter smile on his face, ChiSongZi answered: “Painting is not easy. Having been in waning for a thousand years, the painting sect is so weak now. Now there are 2 saints in the world, but thousands years ago, there were 3 of them – the sword saint, the talisman saint, and the painting saint. However, the painting saint stepped onto the demonic path, and was besieged by all the cultivators in the world. After that, the Illuminated Jade Slips, which contains the top secrets of the painters’ sect was lost, so their sect is never going to recover again. However, there are still a few master painters in some grotto-heavens and schools, and they are called ‘pigment priests’. Nevertheless, they are much weaker than the ancient ones.”

“I see…”Li YunXin nodded, “…but what are those grotto-heavens and schools you mentioned?”

He looked like a modest student, in whose eyes the desire for knowledge could be seen.

KangCangZi seemed nervous, but seeing ChiSongZi winking at him again, he answered patiently: “Like I said, there are 2 saints, and they lead 18 grotto-heavens of the sword sect and 18 grotto-heavens of the talisman sect. These 36 grotto-heavens are founded by the disciples of the saints, so disciples in these grotto-heavens could sometimes be guided by the saints directly.

Beneath the grotto-heavens, there are 36 sword schools and 36 talisman schools. These 72 schools are established by the disciples of the disciples in the grotto-heavens.

Under the grotto-heavens and the schools, are the cultivators in the secular world. For example, the agencies of the schools, the heresies created by the mortals, traitors of the schools, and…some cultivators without sect.”

“Uh-huh.”Li YunXin nodded, “May I ask, which grotto or school are you from?”

“Well…the schools are like sanctuaries for us, and the grotto-heavens are residents of immortals. Heh-heh…we are not from the grotto-heavens nor the schools. We are not part of the sects, but we still study the true Taoism which was taught to humans by the celestials.”

“Cool.”Li YunXin said.

“Eh?”

“I mean, that’s very great of you.”

ChiSongZi folded his hands in front, and said:“You have overpraised me.”

image (1)
Holding hands in front of one’s chest, the gesture to greet or appreciate.

He looked at Li YunXin, and asked: “Are you a cultivator too, little brother?”

“Yep.”
Li YunXin’s answer surprised the 2 priests – they didn’t expect him to commit it so easily.

ChiSongZi coughed to clean his throat, and said: “Of course, I can see that from your unusual bones. Actually, today, we are coming for you.”

His words reminded Li YunXin of his parents. Maybe the thunder storm last year was not an accident…but why the lightnings didn’t kill him if they are created by enemies of his parents? Li YunXin was confused.

Perhaps these 2 priests were here to investigate the unusual accident too, he thought.

The village was lacking in eye-catching news, so “2 people were killed by lighting in one night” became a popular topic of the villagers’ chat very soon. Now the news had spread and was heard by these priests.

They thought they could hide their thoughts before this 14-year-old boy, and they had confirmed that Li YunXin knew little about the cultivators’ world. However, Li YunXin’s mentality was not as immature as he looked.

He thought his parents may have wanted to spend the rest of their lives in the village, and had never thought about telling him too much about these cultivation stuffs. After all, youngsters can easily become ambitious when they knew more about the world.

However, they didn’t know that the end of their lives would come so soon.

Thinking about the spell his father had cast with the painting, and the words of the priests, a stunning and exciting speculation came out of Li YunXin’s mind:

The painting saint, the painting sect, painters…and the Illuminated Jade Slips – Could it be in his parents’ hands?

“Ah…it seems that these young priests are coming for the treasure.”

“You are coming for me?”Li YunXin asked.

“Sure.”ChiSongZi put on a serious face, “We have heard about the strange thunderstorm last year, and thought that it was probably caused by some kind of spiritual treasure. This poor priest is sorry for what had happened to your parents, Brother Li. However, what’s done is done, so now I’m going to state our purpose clearly.”

“Treasures are precious, but they are different from each other. Jewelry is a kind of treasure, with them, a mortal could live a good life, but the treasures of the Taoist sects…they are too much for a mortal to take. If a person who doesn’t cultivate or study Taoism find a Taoist treasure, it would be useless for him. A better choice is to turn it in to one of the grotto-heavens or schools – Firstly, the cultivators would make the best out of the treasure. Secondly, he may be taken into the sects as a disciple. Today, we are here to…”

“Wait, wait, wait a moment…”Li YunXin waved his hand while frowning, “You mean, I and my parents are cultivators, and some kind of accident happened to us, so you think I have a treasure, right?”

The priests looked at each other with confusion in their eyes. Then ChiSongZi answered: “Exactly. We don’t want the treasure to collect dust in the secular world, and don’t want to see such a talented person like you to–”

“I have a question.”Li YunXin said while picking the pine nuts in the basket, “You believe that the treasure is so precious that you would be rewarded if you hand it in to those grotto-heavens or schools. Could you please tell me what is the treasure you are looking for? ”

Before ChiSongZi answered, Li YunXin continued with pine nuts in his hand: “Apart from that, you knew my parents were not mortals, but you were still trying to lie to me – Does that mean that you had heard that I was just a child who knew nothing?”

“You don’t know me well, and don’t even know what the treasure is…Did you kill the one who gave you these information? I think you did.”

The priests got a strange feeling from the young man – He didn’t feel like 14-year-old when he talked.

He was right on every point.

How did he figure that out!?

“What is more, I know you will kill me once you manage to get the treasure” Li YunXin sat straight and pointed at the face of himself, “I can see your intentions on your faces. As the saying goes, ‘the light of maliciousness comes out of the eyes’, your eyes look like searchlights now.”

KangCangZi laughed coldly, and said: “Yeah, you are right about everything you have said. We have indeed killed an injured old fellow. He said he was from one of the grotto-heavens – how great he was! Maybe you know a lot, but as a villager boy…Hahahah, you think you are powerful, huh? You don’t know what true power is!

Your parents are traitors of True Martial School. They had stolen a treasure of their school and escaped to here. I’ve heard that their skills in talismans were not bad, but there is no hope for you to beat us. Do you know who we are!?”

He slammed the table, waved his hand in the air and shouted: “Come, my sword!”

Then a fine steel sword of 2 fingers width came into his hand from nowhere.

ChiSongZi also stood up. A steel sword also appeared in his hand.

They were sitting around the table, and now their swords had blocked all the escape routes of Li YunXin.

They didn’t expected that Li YunXin stood up, too. He slammed the table and shouted at them: “You don’t know what treasure it is, right? Now I’m telling you, listen up, it’s the most powerful treasure of the painting sect – the Illuminated Jade Slips! You want it, huh? You want the slips? Then kill me and go get it. The news that you have found the slips will soon spread. I doubt that you can take it to the sects alive. You’ve said it’s too much for a mortal to take…Are you sure you are strong enough to take it?”

Those 2 priests opened their eyes wide when they heard “the Illuminated Jade Slips”, and was stunned. The old priest from the grotto-heaven had told them that it was a painting which was created a thousand years ago, called Ten Thousands miles of Mountains and Rivers, but what was the young man talking about now?

Footnotes:

  • Supreme Clarity Alchemy School上清丹鼎派: Alchemy schools are Taoist schools that study alchemy, and this one was called Supreme Clarity.
  • To pour daigo on one’s head: to enlighten people with perfect wisdom.

Translator: Rienne

Editor: Dropped

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