Lan WangJi did not look at Wei WuXian. He nodded to indicate respect and spoke in a monotonous voice, “First, liberate; second, suppress; third, eliminate. The initial approach is to utilize the gratitude of his relatives and grant his dying wish, set free what he could not let go of. If it fails, suppress it. If the crimes were extremely wrongful, and its energy of resentment does not dissipate, exterminate it completely. The cultivation world should precisely keep to this order of measures. No errors should be allowed.”
Everyone let out a long breath, thanking the Heavens because Lan WangJi was the one the old man selected. Else, if it was their turn, it would be hard to not overlook a few steps or mix up the order. Lan QiRen nodded with satisfaction, “Not a single mistake was made.” With a pause, he spoke again, “No matter in terms of cultivation or as a person, one needs to be as solid as this. If one becomes complacent and proud just because they defeated a few simple mountain beings in their home and hold some empty reputations, one would definitely bring disgrace upon themselves, sooner or later.”
Wei WuXian raised his brows and took a look at the side of Lan WangJi’s face. He thought, so, apparently this old man meant it for me. He called his best pupil to listen with us in order for me to watch.
He spoke, “I have a question.”
Lan QiRen replied, “Speak.”
Wei WuXian, “Although ‘liberation’ comes first, it is often impossible. ‘To grant his dying wish’ sounds simple—it would be easy, if the wish was a new piece of clothing, but what if the wish was to kill lots of people for revenge?”
Lan WangJi, “Thus, suppression assists liberation. If it is necessary, elimination would also follow.”
Wei WuXian smiled, “Such a waste.” He paused, and continued, “It wasn’t that I didn’t know of this answer, I was only thinking of a fourth path.”
Lan QiRen spoke, “I have never heard of any fourth paths.”
Wei WuXian spoke, “Because the executioner died in such a way, it is only natural that he turned into a ferocious corpse. Since he executed more than one hundred people before he died, why not dig up the graves of these people, arouse their energy of resentment, collect the heads of those hundred people, and use them to fight with the ferocious corpse…”
Lan WangJi finally turned around to look at him. His brows were knit, still expressionless. Lan QiRen was so angered that his goatee was quivering. He shouted, “How dare you!”
Everyone in the room was stunned. Lan QiRen sprang to his feet, “The essence of exorcising demons and annihilating ghosts is to liberate! You do not study the methods of liberation, and even think about increasing their energy of resentment! You reverse the natural order, and ignore ethics and morality!”
Wei WuXian replied, “There are some things that have no use after liberation, so why not find a way to make use of them? When Yu the Great tamed the flood, obstruction was the inferior method, and redirection was the superior. Suppression is the same as obstruction, so isn’t it inferior…” Lan QiRen hurled a book toward him, but he flinched to the side and avoided it. His expression remained unchanged, and continued to talk nonsense, “Spiritual energy is energy; resentful energy is energy as well. Spiritual energy is stored in the dantian. It can split mountains and fill oceans, available for human use. If so, then why can’t resentful energy also be used by humans?”
Another book came flying from Lan QiRen. He spoke harshly, “Then, let me ask you again! How do you make sure that the resentful energy only listens to you and does not harm others?”
Wei WuXian ducked while speaking, “I haven’t thought of it yet!”
Lan QiRen raged, “If you thought of it, the cultivation world would not allow your existence! Get out!”
Wei WuXian couldn’t be more glad, and quickly went out.
He wandered about the Cloud Recesses for the morning, picking flowers and playing with grasses. After everyone finished the lesson, they finally found him on the roof of a tall wall. Wei WuXian was sitting on the grey tiles of the ledge, holding a piece of grass in his mouth. His right hand was under his cheek, and sat with one leg propped up and the other hanging down, swaying slightly. The disciples down there pointed at him, “Wei-xiong! How admirable of you! He told you to get out, and you really went outside! Hahahaha…”
“After you went out, a long while passed before he finally understood what happened. His face was so purple!”
Wei WuXian chewed on the grass and shouted toward below him, “He asks, and I answer. If he tells me to get out, I will get out. What else does he want me to do?”
Nie HuaiSang spoke, “Why does it seem like old man Lan is especially strict towards you? He always directs his scoldings at you.”
Jiang Cheng humphed, “It serves him right. What sort of answer is that? It’s fine if he spouts these nonsense at home, but he dared to say these in front of Lan QiRen. He’s seeking his own death!”
Wei WuXian spoke, “No matter how I answered it, he wouldn’t like me, so I might as well just say what I wanted to say. Anyways, I didn’t try to offend him. I was just answering properly.”
After thinking for a few moments, an expression of envy and yearning appeared on Nie HuaiSang’s face, “To be honest, Wei-xiong’s words were quite interesting. Spiritual energy can only be obtained through cultivation and taking great pains to form a golden core. It would take I-don’t-know-how-many years to do, especially for someone like me, whose talent seems as if it was gnawed by a dog when I was in my mother’s womb. But, resentful energy are from the fierce ghosts. If they can easily be taken and used, it would be beyond wonderful.”
A golden core was a core formed by cultivators after they had cultivated to a certain point. It can store and control spiritual energy. After the core was formed, the cultivator’s level of cultivation would increase at a rapid speed, and become better and better. Else, they would only be a low-end cultivator. If disciple from a prominent clan forms the core at a later age, it would be a disgrace to tell other people of it, yet Nie HuaiSang didn’t feel ashamed at all. Wei WuXian also laughed, “I know, right? No harm comes from using it.”
Jiang Cheng warned, “That’s enough. It’s fine if you talk about it, but don’t actually walk such a crooked path.”
Wei WuXian smiled, “Why would I leave the nice, broad road, and walk on a single-plank bridge on a dark, narrow river instead? If it really is that easy, people would have already walked on it. Don’t worry, he was just asking, and I was just answering. Hey, are you guys coming? Since it’s not curfew yet, hunt for pheasants with me.”
Jiang Cheng scolded, “What do you mean ‘hunt for pheasants’? Why would there be pheasants here?! First, go copy Righteousness. Lan QiRen asked me to tell you to copy the Virtue section of Righteousness for three times, so that you can learn what natural law and morality is.”
Righteousness was the collection of the Lan Sect’s sect rules. The sect rules here was too long, so Lan QiRen revised them into a thick collection. The sections Virtue and Conduct were four fifth of the whole book. Wei WuXian spat out the grass which he held in his mouth and dusted his boots, “Three times? I’d fly up to Heaven if I just copied them once. I’m not from the Lan Sect, and don’t intend to marry into the Lan Clan, so why should I copy the sect rules of his sect? I’m not gonna copy.”
Nie HuaiSang quickly spoke, “I’ll copy for you! I’ll copy for you!”
Wei WuXian, “No good person does favours for others out of the blue. Tell me, what do you want me to do?”
Nie Huai Sang replied, “It’s like this. Wei-xiong, old man Lan has a bad habit. He…”
In the middle of his sentence, he suddenly paused and coughed drily, opening up his fan and shifting to the side. Wei WuXian knew that something was wrong. He turned around and, sure enough, Lan WangJi stood under an ancient, verdant tree and gazed in their direction, carrying the Bichen sword on his back. He looked like a jade tree, reflecting the mottled shadows of leaves and sunlight. However, his stare wasn’t kind at all, as if it could lock them in a cavern made of ice. Everyone knew that their shouts were a bit too loud, and the noise had probably led him over, so they all shut their mouths. Yet, Wei WuXian jumped down and gravitated toward him, “WangJi-xiong!”
Lan WangJi turned around and immediately walked away. Wei WuXian cheerfully went after him and yelled, “WangJi-xiong, wait for me!”
The white clothed figure flashed behind the tree, and suddenly disappeared without a trace, clearly showing that Lan WangJi didn’t want to converse with him. Having received only a view from behind, Wei WuXian turned around and complained to the others, “He ignored me.”
“Yeah,” Nie HuaiSang spoke, “It looks like he really hates you, Wei-xiong. Lan WangJi usually… No, he never does something so impolite.”
Wei WuXian, “He hates me already? I wanted to apologize to him.”
Jiang Cheng sneered, “Apologizing now? Too late! Like his uncle, he surely thinks that you are evil and unruly to the core, and didn’t bother to pay you any attention.”
Wei WuXian thought otherwise. He chuckled, “Who cares if he ignored me? Does he look pretty?” After a thought, he realized that Lan WangJi did look pretty. And so, he happily threw away his desire to twitch his lips.
Only after three days, did Wei WuXian finally know of Lan QiRen’s bad habit.
Lan QiRen’s lessons were not only tediously long, but everything was also tested on. The generational changes of important clans in the cultivation world, the division of their areas of power, famous quotes by famous cultivators, family trees…
Although he didn’t understand a single bit as he listened in class, Nie HuaiSang worked as hard as a slave when the date of the test approached. He copied Virtue two times for Wei WuXian, and begged before the test, “Please, Wei-xiong, if my grade is lower than yi, my brother would really break my legs! Stuff like telling apart direct lineage, collateral lineage, main clan, clan branches… For us disciples from big clans, we can’t even distinguish our relationships with our own relatives, randomly calling everyone who are more than two tiers away from us aunts and uncles. Does anyone have enough capacity in their brain to remember those of other clans?!”
As a result of cheating notes flying everywhere in the air, Lan WangJi suddenly attacked during the test, and caught a few initiators of the commotion. Lan QiRen exploded with anger, writing letters to the prominent clans to tell on them. He loathed Wei WuXian—in the beginning, although these disciples could hardly sit still, at least nobody started anything, and their buttocks were able to stick to their legs. However, now that Wei Ying came, the originally spineless brats were influenced by his encouragement, venturing out at night and drinking alcohol however they pleased. The unhealthy practices grew greater and greater. As he had expected, Wei Ying was one of the biggest threats to humanity!
Jiang FengMian replied, “Ying has always been like this. Please take care to discipline him, Mr. Lan.”
And so, Wei WuXian was punished again.
At first, he didn’t think too much of it. It was only copying texts, and he never lacked people who copied for him. Yet, this time, Nie HuaiSang spoke, “Wei-xiong, even if I want to help you, I can’t any more. You’d have to endure it on your own.”
Wei WuXian asked, “What happened?”
Nie HuaiSang, “Old… Mr. Lan said that you have to copy both Virtue and Conduct.”
Conduct was the most complicated section of the twelve sections in the Lan Sect’s sect rules. It cited a lot of classics, was terribly long, and had a lot of rarely-used characters. Copy it one time, and one would lose all interest in life. Copy it ten times, and one would fly to Heaven on the spot. Nie HuaiSang added, “He also said that, during the time of the punishment, nobody is allowed to fool around with you or copy them for you.”
Wei WuXian wondered, “How would he know if someone copied them for me or not? Surely it doesn’t mean that he’s making someone watch me.”
Jiang Cheng spoke, “That’s exactly the case.”
“…” Wei WuXian spoke, “What did you say?”
Jiang Cheng, “He told you that you’re not allowed to go outside and have to go to the Library Pavilion to copy, and also face the wall and reflect upon your mistakes. Of course, there will be someone to watch you. I don’t need to tell you who he is, do I?”
Inside the Library Pavilion—
There was one bamboo seat, one wooden desk, two candlesticks, and two people. One sat in a proper position, but, on the other side, Wei WuXian had already copied Conduct for more than ten pages. His head felt dizzy and his heart felt bored, so he dropped his pen to take a breath and looked across.
When he was still in Yunmeng, there were a lot of girls who envied that he could come and study with Lan WangJi. They said that each generation was full of nice-looking men, especially the brothers part of the Two Jades in the current generation. Before this, Wei WuXian never had the chance to carefully examine the front of his face. Now that he had a look at it, he started to think random thoughts, He looks quite nice indeed. Yet, if only those girls could come and see him with their own eyes. Looking as bitter as if everyone had offended him or his parents died, it wouldn’t matter no matter how nice his face looks.
Lan WangJi was recopying ancient books, which were not only old but also unavailable to most others, in the Lan Sect’s Library Pavilion. His brushstrokes were slow and steady, and his handwriting was neat yet sharply vigourous. Wei WuXian couldn’t help but to compliment him sincerely, “Those are some great characters! They’re of the top level.”
Lan WangJi remained indifferent.
Wei WuXian rarely kept his mouth shut for such a long amount of time. Feeling suffocated, he thought, I have to sit in front of such a stuffy person for so many hours each day, for a month. Would I even survive?
At this point of thought, he couldn’t help but slightly tilted his body forward.
Yu the Great: This was a famous person in the history of China. He was known for introducing a method of controlling and stopping the floods from destroying villages.
Dantian: This refers to the region in the body where a person’s Qi, or energy, is concentrated. It is located three finger widths below and two finger widths behind the navel, where girls’ period cramps happen (not really, but you get the idea). The definition comes from https://immortalmountain.wordpress.com/glossary/wuxia-xianxia-xuanhuan-terms/#world.
Fly up to Heaven: This is what happens when a cultivator is of such a high level that they finally become an Immortal and fly up to Heaven. This usually happens in high fantasy, but GDC is low fantasy, so nobody actually flies up to Heaven. If you’re interested in settings involving gods and Immortals, check out the author’s new work—Heavenly Blessings. No group is translating this yet, but the fanart is quite nice.
Yi: There are four grades—jia, yi, bing, and ding. Yi is the second level, so it is pretty much a B in terms of the American grading system.
Two tiers: This means that there are two levels of relationship between them, such as the cousin of a cousin and so on.
Seat: Seats in Ancient China were made of bamboo weaved together into a flat piece of mat on the ground to sit on.