Chapter 5 – The Heavens And Earth Do Not Shift, Neither Does The Stone Turn Amidst The Flowing River!
Beyond The Heavens Storey, The Nine Peaks and The Single Garden. There were the ten great Disciples of the seventh generation belonging to the Beyond The Heavens Storey, and each were in charge of a separate location; Forthcoming Clouds Peak, Misty Clouds Peak, Distant Clouds Peak, Separating Clouds Peak, Gathering Clouds Peak, Locking Clouds Peak, Dream Clouds Peak, Hatred Clouds Peak, Stepping On The Clouds Peak, and Purple Bamboo Garden.
The Gathering Clouds Peak was the Peak where the Sect Master Wu Yun Liang resided, and it was the main Peak amongst The Nine Peaks. The Single Garden was the Purple Bamboo Garden where Chu Yang resided. Amongst The Nine Peaks and The Single Garden, although the scenery of the Purple Bamboo Garden was the most beautiful, it was instead ranked at the end when it came to resources amongst the nine.
The Master of the Purple Bamboo Garden, Meng Chao Ran, was the Youngest Martial Brother amongst the ten great Disciples, and he had a natural disposition to be indifferent; aloof from worldly affairs. He never competed with his nine Martial Brothers for anything, and throughout his whole life, he had only taken in Shi Qian Shan, Chu Yang and Tan Tan as his three Disciples.
With the exception of Shi Qian Shan being accepted due to feelings and favours that were owed unto others, Chu Yang and Tan Tan were both orphans who had been picked up by Meng Chao Ran.
In every single generation of Disciples, there would be a selection for the ten great Disciples amongst the Inner Quarters Disciples; to become the various people in charge of The Nine Peaks and The Single Garden. Meanwhile, the Eldest Martial Brother of the ten great Disciples would be the future candidate for the Beyond the Heavens Storey’s Sect Master, dominating the Gathering Clouds Peak.
No matter if it were the degree of Spiritual Medicinal resources or Spiritual Energy secret manuals, the Gathering Clouds Peak was ranked first amongst The Nine Peaks.
For those positions of the ten great Disciples, the Disciples of The Nine Peaks and The Single Garden had been competing amongst themselves for several hundreds of years; every single person had desperately trained themselves for those ten positions. Under those kind of encouraging and pressurising conditions, the cultivation of the Disciples belonging to the Beyond The Heavens Storey had improved by leaps and bounds.
The name of that world was the Continent of the Nine Heavens. The Beyond The Heavens Storey was located at the Three Lower Heavens, or the ‘Continent of the Lower Heavens’. In the eyes of common men, there were a few mysterious locations on the Continent of the Lower Heavens that was permeated with misty clouds throughout the year. No matter if it were men or beasts, or even birds that flew, none of them could get close to those locations.
Only several martial experts who were powerful in their cultivation would know that the entrances to enter the Three Middle Heavens and transcend the Three Lower Heavens laid there.
There existed similar mysterious places within the Three Middle Heavens, and those were the entrances to the Three Higher Heavens!
For a person to even think of entering, he or she would require to possess martial powers that had transcended the world!
The Continent of the Nine Heavens. As its name had suggested, was an extremely large continent. From the East to the West, since the beginning, no one knew how far the distance stretched. From the South to the North, there were never any records of how distant one end was to the other. It was boundless!
There were countless legends and countless myths on that vast continent, and they were passed down from generation to generation. Since ancient times, there were an unknown number of emperors, kings, generals and ministers, as well as heroes emerging like an endless stream.
On a certain day, one might be drinking red wine with friends while appreciating songs and dance, yet that person might be locked in chains and become a death row convict on the very next day. On a certain day, one might be an emperor, yet on the very next day, it did not mean that person would not become the general of a defeated army, or a ghost after dying under the edge of a blade. On a certain day, one might be a plundering thief, yet who could say that the person would not be putting on the yellow gown, becoming an emperor on the very next day?
On that mysterious continent, it was possible for anything to happen!
Similar to any continental planets, there were also boundaries beyond the imperial court. Beyond those boundaries, there were also wandering swordsmen. Besides those wandering swordsmen, there were also people associated with the martial society. With the existence of a martial society, there would be opposing sides, and those opposing sides would be separated into those which were righteous and those which were evil.
Those who were righteous and those who were evil would never stand together, and conflicts between them were endless. Amidst the long and sustained conflicts, there were also various people who had formed their own system of martial etiquette codes, or places where conflicts had caused chaos during a certain period of time, or even places where several hundreds of years had passed by peacefully.
Worldly matters, they were originally that intriguingly marvellous.
No matter if it were the Ways of the Righteous, the Devil or Evil, in the eyes of common men, there was instead a common form of addressing those practitioners: Martial Artists in the Way of the Martial Arts!
No matter the world, for swordsmen to violate restrictions through use of Martial Arts, the reasoning was always the same. The term ‘Martial Arts’ implied many meanings. Amongst all of those meanings, the most memorable interpretation would be no more than the word ‘violence’!
Martial Arts implied that from a single disagreement, the ground within seven steps would be soaked with blood. Martial Arts implied performing meritorious services and achieving great success through wielding a weapon while riding atop a horse. Martial Arts implied being unscrupulous in the martial society, committing murder and plunder……
Martial Arts. Not only were they colourful, they were also associated with many disputes and conflicts.
With the exception of the human race, there were also several mysterious races on that world. For example, amongst people of the Heavens and Earth, there was the Three Stars Holy Clan. It was said that in the past, there was a period of time when they were also once glorious, that they also possessed exotic powers that were bestowed by the Heavens, and had once reigned supreme, independently yet equally, alongside the human race. However, their numbers had already declined since a long, long time ago.
There might still be other special Clans, but, those were even more fleeting than legends……
At the very least, Chu Yang could only count a handful of those that he had seen in his past life. Moreover, all of them belonged to Low Class Holy Clans. As for High Class Clans, he never saw even a single one. He did not know if they had become extinct, or if they were secretly hidden at a particular location……
Meanwhile, for human Martial Artists, no matter the Righteous or Evil, with regard to Fingers, Palms, Legs, Feet, Punches, Sabres, Swords…… and all the other kinds of proficiencies, they all began with Pupil, Warrior, Artist, Master, Great Master, Revered, King, Emperor (Majesty), Gentleman, Saint…… until, finally at the peak, they would be Supreme!
There were eleven ranks, and each rank was separated into Nine Grades; from the First Grade to the Ninth Grade.
Martial Skills implementing the Fists and Palms were generally referred to as Martial Arts. Martial Arts Pupil, Martial Arts Warrior, Martial Artist, Martial Arts Master, Martial Arts Great Master, Revered Martial Artist, Martial Artist King, Martial Artist Majesty, Martial Artist Gentleman, Martial Artist Saint.
If the proficiency was to be changed to the Way of the Sabre, then it would be Sabre Pupil, Sabre Warrior, Sabre Artist…… Sabre Saint!
It was only the Way of the Sword, that although the beginning were the same, the Majesty rank was instead referred to as “Emperor”; that was the rule laid down by the first master of the Nine Tribulations Sword, and no one knew the reason behind that.
After arriving at the Saint rank, one could basically be considered to already be at the pinnacle under the Heavens! That was because, since ancient times, people who were capable of becoming Supreme were only a scant few! It could be said that people who had achieved the rank of Supreme were just myths! According to legends, with regard to the capabilities for one who was at the rank of Supreme, he or she could call the winds and summon the rain, as well as travelling to the boundaries of the sky; he or she could also shift mountains and reclaim seas, as well as being able to attain transcendence!
However, legends would always be only legends. No one had ever witnessed it for themselves! With regard to people of the Saint rank, their whereabouts had always been mysterious. People would rarely meet them.
Since an unknown number of years, only people who were ranked Majesty and Emperor had reigned unrivaled under the Heavens! Each of them dominated their own regions!
The Beyond The Heavens Storey which Chu Yang belonged to at that moment was situated at the Three Lower Heavens. Within the Continent of the Nine Heavens, that was the only single piece of space which the mundane imperial family held power and ruled. At the Three Lower Heavens, the imperial family had the absolute authority.
“Come in, the three of you.” His entire body covered in a purple gown, Meng Chao Ran stood at the entrance to the Purple Bamboo Garden, bearing a tranquil expression that seemed otherworldly. When he saw the wound on Chu Yang’s head, he only slightly raised his eyebrows, then regained his usual indifferent appearance.
“Teacher, both Younger Martial Brothers had made mistakes while sparring, and Younger Martial Brother Chu Yang had lost quite an amount of blood this time. I hope that Teacher will bestow some Spiritual Medicine to relieve some of Younger Martial Brother Chu Yang’s pain.” Shi Qian Shan said in a relatively urgent tone. From within his eyes, as well as his facial expression, they were both completely filled with intentions of concern.
Shi Qian Shan’s words were filled with concern towards his Younger Martial Brother, and seemed as though he did not have any other meaning. Neither did he intentionally use his tone to stress on several sensitive phrases. However, indirectly, those sentences were as good as mercilessly victimising Tan Tan before Meng Chao Ran!
“There is no need.” It was not known whether Meng Chao Ran could not tell from Shi Qian Shan’s words, or if he was unconcerned. In an indifferent tone, Meng Chao Ran said, “It is a good thing for young people to suffer a little injury and endure a little pain. As long as the muscles and bones were not harmed, nor the life in any danger, is there a need to be this nervous?”
As Chu Yang looked at the truly refined face before him, warm and intimate feelings began to well up from the bottom of his heart. It was as if he had the sudden impulse to rush forward and embrace his Teacher!
His Teacher…… was both his master and father, and that was both true and untrue. As an orphan, Chu Yang had been brought up by Meng Chao Ran ever since he was a child. In his mind, his Teacher was his most important and respected person. No matter what kind of achievements he would later obtain, or even during the time when he had obtained the rank of a Revered Martial Expert, his Teacher would always remain as a warm person in his mind.
With regard to that Teacher of his, he appeared to be harmless towards other people and small animals, as well as being indifferent to matters of the world. However, none of the tens of thousands of worldly affairs escaped his eyes. No one could possibly imagine the secrets and caution that Meng Chao Ran had kept within both his heart and mind.
All along, Meng Chao Ran had never sought fame nor openly revealed his capabilities, which was why no one could possibly imagine the strength that he possessed.
Chu Yang could still remember the moment of the catastrophe that would befall upon the Beyond The Heavens Storey four years later. Meng Chao Ran’s white clothes fluttered as he danced, a single man with a single sword, switching between postures amidst the fiercely raging flames! Countless enemies gave out numerous, miserable cries of death as they fell under his sword. Clearly, he could easily break through the encirclement and leave, but he had instead remained guarding that place, until the sect had been reduced to a piece of scorched earth.
It was only at that moment, Chu Yang then knew that his Teacher Meng Chao Ran was a man who had kept a profile so low, that it could not get any lower within the Beyond The Heavens Storey, and that he was actually one of the very few people who had the strongest cultivation within the Beyond The Heavens Storey! His entire cultivation had already achieved the domain level of a Martial Arts Great Master! It was even to the point of being close to the rank of Revered Martial Artist!
At the final moment, Meng Chao Ran discovered the seriously wounded Chu Yang. Drifting over, and with a single palm strike, he caused Chu Yang to become dizzy. Then, Chu Yang could only feel himself being pressed down by countless corpses.
That was undoubtedly his Teacher’s only method of preserving his life. However, Chu Yang never did get to meet Meng Chao Ran in his life after that, and he also did not get to hear any news with regard to Meng Chao Ran……
In Chu Yang’s previous life, finding his Teacher’s traces was his life’s mission that he had always remembered in his mind! Finding his Teacher, protecting his Teacher, and repaying his Teacher…… those were also his wishes. However, Chu Yang never did manage to find him…… that also became a regret which he had always kept in his heart.
At that very moment, to once again see that familiar and intimate face, Chu Yang was unintentionally filled with mixed emotions.
“The Contest of the Peaks will be held in another three months.” Meng Chao Ran’s voice interrupted Chu Yang’s thoughts, and he could only hear him say, “The three of you had better intensify your practise and see who is capable of entering the Inner Quarters to become Inner Quarters Disciples. This is an event of our Beyond The Heavens Storey, so all of you should not slacken.”
“Yes.” The three people answered simultaneously.
“Our Beyond The Heavens Storey is different from the other sects. Masters of The Nine Peaks and The Single Garden have all along been produced from amongst Inner Quarters Disciples. I also wish that at least one of you is capable of becoming one of the ten great Disciples, and inherit the Purple Bamboo Garden.”
Meng Chao Ran easily gave a smile and said, “However, if you are incapable, then there is no need to force yourself. I will personally bring all of you away from the Purple Bamboo Garden, and seek a place for you to live in seclusion.”
Chu Yang secretly gave a bitter smile. That Teacher of his was still that easygoing. Regardless the matter, he never placed them on his mind; for that kind of a great event, if it were another person, he or she would try exceedingly hard. However, in Meng Chao Ran’s mind, he actually did not weigh that event heavily.
“This Disciple will definitely not disappoint Teacher’s expectations!” Shi Qian Shan’s gaze became fervent as he gave his pledge.
“Mmm, there is something that I must do, so I will be leaving for a while.” Meng Chao Ran said calmly, “It is possible that I might even be back after the contest. All of you shall voluntarily intensify your practise, and that will do.”
The three of them were startled at the same time. Due to the imminent contest, which of the other Peaks’ Teachers was not putting in all of their efforts in pressing their Disciples to practise? However, that Teacher of theirs was unexpectedly leaving at that critical juncture? Even to the point of completely washing his hands off without any concern?
“Teacher, please be careful of everything. Teacher, since you have decided to leave at this critical juncture, then that must definitely be an important matter that cannot be delayed.” Chu Yang thought for a moment, then said, “The Heavens and Earth do not shift, neither does the stone turn amidst the flowing river, and there are still many days ahead. It is just as what you had just taught us. With regard to anything, there is no need to force yourself. We only look forward to Teacher returning safely, and do not have any other request.”
Chu Yang could still faintly remember, that after Meng Chao Ran had left, he only came back half a year later. Moreover, he had returned bearing serious injuries, and he had to rest for over a year to fully recover.
Given his capabilities of a Martial Arts Great Master, he was already an expert on the Three Lower Heavens, and there were only very few people who could injure him. There were only two possibilities. It was either Meng Chao Ran had been surrounded and attacked by quite a large number of enemies, or that he had gone…… to the Three Middle Heavens!
The Heavens and Earth do not shift, neither does the stone turn amidst the flowing river!
Meng Chao Ran’s body suddenly trembled momentarily. It was as if a thunderclap had suddenly rang out from the Ninth Heaven and struck him on his head, thus causing him to actually become startled for a moment. After quite some time, Meng Chao Ran then turned around and looked at Chu Yang, shooting forth a mysterious gaze at him.
Amongst the three Disciples, Shi Qian Shan was passionate for power, coveting the position of the Inner Quarters Disciples’ Eldest Martial Brother, while Tan Tan had the mentality of a youth, and was ignorant. Only Chu Yang was aware that him leaving on that trip was not only a matter of great importance, but that there would also be danger. Moreover, amongst the words which he had said, there were some that actually contained a deep meaning.
However, the most crucial words were still those “The Heavens and Earth do not shift, neither does the stone turn amidst the flowing river”, which faintly seemed as if it had actually struck at the bottleneck of the many years of his cultivation……
Chu Yang gave a secret smile. Teacher, don’t blame me for stopping you, ah, I am doing this for your own good. When you had left for this trip in my previous life, you had barely managed to escape back while bearing fatal injuries. That proves your capabilities are still not enough to perform that task. It is still better for you to concentrate on cultivating your skills for a period of time right……
That “The Heavens and Earth do not shift, neither does the stone turn amidst the flowing river”, was the verse to break through the bottleneck for the domain level of Martial Arts Great Master. Once a person’s capabilities had reached the peak of Martial Arts Great Master, he or she would then encounter a bottleneck. Only after the person had perceived and obtained insight, would he or she be able to break through it.
Meanwhile, that “The Heavens and Earth do not shift, neither does the stone turn amidst the flowing river”, was a kind of domain level! Only after a Martial Arts Great Master had arrived at that subtle stage, would he or she be able to appreciate the beauty of that single sentence!
How could Meng Chao Ran be an exception?