Chapter 25: A Stubborn Man
Translator: Transn Editor: Transn
Ning Que tried to recollect how he felt in the dream and said, "In my dream, the breath, which was constant and audible, turned into some substance. It was like warm drops gradually gathered together, and enveloped my body inside. It was light and slippery, and no matter how hard I tried to touch or hold it, it trickled through my fingers."
Lyu Qingchen stifled his excitement and asked, "How far away can you feel? Or, what does the thing feel like? A basin of water? A stream? Or a pond?"
Ning Que lifted his head, and answered confusingly, "It was like... a sea."
Lyu Qingchen stiffened and fell back on a cushion. After a long time of silence, he flashed a weary smile and muttered, "Yes, how could that be possible?"
From Lyu's facial expression, Ning Que guessed what happened was not the same as he expected. He still kept asking. "Mr. Lyu, have I entered the Initial State? Was what I felt the Breath of Nature?"
Lyu Qingchen patted his shoulder, trying to comfort Ning Que. "The Initial State is the Initial Awareness State I have told you earlier, which means the cultivator's psyche opens to the Ocean of Qi and Mountain of Snow, and they start to feel the existence of the Breath of Nature. Therefore, this is the first time for the ordinary people to see the brand new world.
"Cultivators' futures depend on what they can see at their first sight, because what they see and feel is the reflection of primordial Qi in nature. The purer and stronger the cultivator's psyche is, the broader and deeper he can feel."
Looking at Ning Que, the old man said, "At the Initial Awareness State, mediocre cultivators are only able to feel the Qi of Heaven and Earth near their body, which reflects on his heart as a basin of water. Talented cultivators can feel the Qi of Heaven and Earth from a wider distance, but the reflection is only a little pond. If a cultivator can feel a stream or even a lake, he'll become a Grand Cultivator one day."
There was a frown on Ning Que's face. He wanted to say something, but the old man stopped him.
The old man continued, "In this world, very few people can reach the Knowing Destiny State, and of the people who reached it, Liu Bai, the Sage of Sword from the South Jin Kingdom, is the most talented. He entered the Initial State before he was six years old, and he saw a raging torrent at his first sight! He's a genius! That's why he's the best cultivator in the south and is regarded as the person most likely to reach the last state of the Five States."
If the person who saw a river was regarded as the most powerful cultivator, then how powerful was one when he could see a sea? Ning Que was silent for a long time. Although he had lots of secrets, he never regarded himself as a genius, let alone a genius who was even more talented than a world-famous cultivator. But, what if it was true?
"It may sound overconfident, disrespectful or... narcissistic."
He tried to find the suitable words and lowered his head. "Is it possible that I'm more powerful than the Sage of Sword from the South Jin Kingdom? No... I just mean because I have meditated for many years, so when I entered the Initial Awareness State, I felt an area wider than what he felt."
"What's wider than a raging torrent? I don't know. But I know it's not an endless sea, because that isn't what we're talking about."
Looking at Ning Que, whose head was lowered, the old man sighed. "Child, do you know what sea means at the Initial Awareness State? It's the reflection of the Qi of Heaven and Earth from the whole world.
"No one can see everything in that brand new world at their first sight. It's just impossible, even Sages in legends can't do that."
He patted the lad's stiff shoulder, smiling and comforting him. "It's just a dream, but still, a sweet one."
Ning Que left silently.
He didn't think much of cultivation in the beginning. If Lyu Qingchen were not mentioning it and encouraging him all these days, he would feel much better right now. If there were no hope from the start, now there would not be any disappointment.
The handmaiden Sangsang put a basin with hot water beside him. She sank a facecloth in the hot water and twisted it, and then she put the facecloth on his face. She asked curiously, "Young master, what have you asked tonight?"
"I went to the old man and said to him, 'I have a secret but I won't tell you, but since I have told you I know a secret, should you tell me whether you can guess it or not and then show your admiration to me, a talented cultivator? '"
Sangsang repeated his words silently and was still confused by them. She took off the facecloth from Ning Que's face, washed it in the water, and then turned around to pour the water outside of the carriage. "Young master, you're the silly one this time."
He did feel like he was an idiot. Ning Que turned around, looking at the stars above the field outside of the window. His hands touching his face, he tried to find those tiny freckles. He mumbled, "You think flying on a sword is amazing? I can handle Xuanyuan sword, can you?"
Sangsang heard his strange words and shook her head.
Ning Que sat up and found his old book, the Article on the Response of the Tao. He did not turn the pages, and instead, he stared at the cover for a long time, as if he was trying to figure out what on earth was hidden in it.
He said with a calm voice, "Bring the basin over."
He lit the lighter and set it to the book. Soon, the book started burning. He loosened his fingers, letting the book fall into the basin and burn.
Sangsang saw all this with astonishment.
Seeing the book curled up, become black from fire, and turned into ash, Ning Que clenched his hand on the windowsill. It felt as if an old friend had gone forever, and his dream burst like a bubble.
"I'm quite useless, right?"
Sangsang shook her head.
Ning Que said with a smile on his face, "No one is better at archery than me and no one can kill as ruthlessly as I can. My peers never killed as many people as I did. I'm not useless. I'm a wood-chopper at Shubi Lake. I can't juggle like flying on a sword. But in the future, if I get a chance, I'll kill Grand Cultivators like I killed the Horse Gang."
Sangsang tightened her mouth into a thin line and broke into a smile. She then nodded.
This was not self-consolation after encountering a failure but Ning Que's belief. At the entrance of Northern Mountain Road, even those bodyguards almost defeated a Great Sword Master, then why couldn't he? In this world, no one was invincible. No matter how powerful those unworldly sublime beings were, they were still humans that could be defeated.
In this world, and in that cultivator's world, many people found themselves untalented and unintelligent. Unable to fulfill their dreams, they were disappointed and sad, even refusing to admit it. Many of them immersed themselves in the illusion of success and confined themselves to their inner cage where they kept struggling and hoping to return to the past.
Some people found themselves lacking the talents necessary to write a new masterpiece, the Dream in the Green Mansion. They hid in a small village for thirty years, trying very hard to write something and bore a miserable life. However, this did not mean that they were as talented as the author of Dream in the Red Mansion, Cao Xueqin.
Ning Que was never such a person. If he could not become as talented as Cao Xueqin, he would try to become as good as Jin Yong, a famous author of swordsman stories. If he could not become an emperor, he would try to become a great calligrapher. If not a general, then a scholar. Therefore, even if he could not be a cultivator, it was not the end of the world.
Continuing to walk on one road was not wrong. Although the people accompanying them might be hard and bitter, it might also lead to success. But, maybe, those who had the determination to give up and turn to a new road were more honorable.
Life is a stubborn man—it would take more courage to persuade him to give up than to convince him to hold on.