Plundering the Dao of the Immortal Journey Chapter 71
Green Cloud Monastery
The autumn rain was unrelenting as it beat down upon the devout worshippers. Umbrellas were opened, shielding them from the flurry of rain. Pei Zi Yun exhaled deeply, as he retreated from his state of quietness. Instantly, he felt a certain sense of invigoration engulfing his body. His senses were sharper and he felt extremely comfortable. His Dao Techniques had improved another notch.
However, his face did not reflect any of these. In fact, it remained expressionless, "I've been cultivating and practicing everyday. The purpose of this process was to change the structure and capabilities of my internal organs."
"According to the rules of this world, the evolution of the body was a sequential progression. However according to the rules of my original world, this was a natural process. Interfering with this natural process would have certain consequences."
"Even if there were magical pills, was it possible to promote cell division at will, and recreate an entirely new body?" At this point, he heard the door open. Turning around abruptly, he saw that it was the little girl Chu Xia.
Everyday after cultivation time was over, the little girl would come around and disturb Pei Zi Yun mischievously. She would exploit the fact that she was his senior sister, and drag Pei Zi Yun out to play and have fun. There would always be a new street to explore, or a new adventure to embark on. This was in the name of "exploring the secular world", when in fact she was buying kites, fanciful masks and candies.
At times, the little girl Chu Xia would even drag Pei Zi Yun to poke fun at a few of her other junior brothers. This little girl Chu Xia was extremely mischievous. Even in the original owner's life, she had poked fun of him several times before.
Recalling once again of how she had died tragically, Pei Zi Yun could not help but feel a sense of tender feelings towards her. Hence, he always gave in to her demands whenever it was possible. This little imp would always cause complains within the monastery as she wrecked havoc in the name of fun. Even Pei Zi Yun became accustomed to being dragged before Yu Yun Jun and being scolded together with Chu Xia for mischief.
"Where shall we play today?" Pei Zi Yun said with a sly grin.
"We're not playing today. There's not much fun left to be had here in the monastery. We are to return to Fu Mansion. Aunt said that you're already familiar with the routines and have excelled in the work entrusted to you here. Thus, there wasn't any need for us to remain here any longer. Furthermore your mandatory High Scholar etiquette class is going to begin soon, and thus you have to return to the Academic Institution where the class will be held." Chu Xia seemed gloomy as she replied.
"Oh, I get it now." Pei Zi Yun nodded his head. The purpose for their visit here to Green Cloud Monastery was to familiarize himself with the outer disciples, the rules and their way of life. Pei Zi Yun had excelled and astonished everyone with his proficiency. Indeed, he could leave now.
Capital, Fu Mansion
Yu Yun Jun, Pei Zi Yun and the little girl Chu Xia returned to Fu Mansion, where High Scholar Fu had prepared a welcoming banquet in their honor. Since Pei Zi Yun was now his junior brother, he had to look after him well.
During the banquet, Pei Zi Yun and High Scholar Fu were deep in discussion, where they paired wine with their colorful conversations. Since both of them were High Scholars, they were a good match for one another. According to High Scholar Fu, he had attempted to take the Grand Scholar examination for a long time, and yet could not clear it. Furthermore Yu Yun Jun was his sister-in-law, and thus under her coaxing, he joined Free Cloud Sect as her disciple.
A few days later, in the morning, Pei Zi Yun had just woken up when a servant knocked on his door and requested to accompany him to the dining hall. He saw a sumptuous breakfast dishes on the table. High Scholar Fu, Yu Yun Jun and Chu Xia were all already present.
Pei Zi Yun then followed the servant to the table. Chu Xia was chirping away, "Little Junior Brother, hurry up and join us, we were waiting for you to begin eating."
She then jumped off her chair with agility, and tugged on the sleeves of Pei Zi Yun and dragged him to his seat.
High Scholar Fu was experienced in matters such as this as he smiled and said, "In actual fact, the High Scholar etiquette class could be taken in your own county. But since you've been excelling in your classes, I figured it was important to let the High Scholars within the capital meet you during the class conducted here."
"Although this etiquette class is not very important, you should still attend, for there are various lessons to be learnt. In future, when you have your own dealings with government officials, these skills will come in handy."
"But it has to be said, even to this day, the common people refer to the Emperor as Jade Emperor, but officials call him Heaven Emperor, the difference in the names is only one word, but It holds a complete difference in essence"
"Although you've already entered the Dao, learning this is important too. This lesson teaches the important interaction between the dynasty and its interactions with officials, common folk and even religion."
Pei Zi Yun nodded his head in acknowledgement. When he had finished his breakfast, Pei Zi Yun followed High Scholar Fu out as they prepared to leave.The little girl Chu Xia chased after them, "Junior brother, come back soon! When you're back we can go by the river and fly our kites."
Outside the mansion, there was an ox-cart being prepared by the servant as they made their way towards the institution. Once they arrived, Pei Zi Yun noticed two fearsome soldiers standing guard at the entrance. They strolled past these fierce looking soldiers and and walked towards a classroom. There were already several high scholars present. Many of them did not recognize Pei Zi Yun and were shocked that someone so young was already among their ranks, "Who's that person, he's so young!"
Someone replied in a hushed voice, "That person is this year's Top Scorer."
When they heard this, everyone was appalled, "So this is the fifteen years old Top Scorer that everyone's been talking about."
Many people approached Pei Zi Yun and clasped their hands in salute and Pei Zi Yun responded in kind. Everyone was exchanging pleasantries when a sonorous voice echoed through the corridors, "High Scholars, enter the classroom."
The minute they heard this, the smiles were wiped off all their faces to be replaced by a gloomy expression. A person dressed in an officials robe walked in with two secretaries carrying a large stack of books behind him.
The teaching official stood before the class and shouted, "Silence!"
The noise within the classroom instantly vanished, and was replaced by silence. He then held up a namelist, which he checked against the profiles of the students before him, "Fellow Scholars, I've conducted a thorough check on all of your backgrounds and realized that among the 67 of you present, 6 of you came from extreme poverty."
"As of today, regardless of background, as long as a person excels in the examination, they would have a chance of becoming an official. All of you here started off as regular students before becoming Elementary Scholars. You then took the examinations and passed before becoming High Scholars. In future, you will have a chance to become a Grand Scholar as well. Your past examinations had been based on the four books and five classics. Since you are here in this classroom today, it means that you've had a good understanding of these subjects."
"At this point, do you think you have a good chance of becoming a Grand Scholar?"
"Just by looking at the few of you, I don't think so."
When they've heard this, everyone was dumbfounded. The silence in the room was deafening. The teaching official then smiled and revealed his teeth, "You might feel offended and insulted now. So I shall give you an example."
"A random High Scholar, had studied for more than twenty years, and had a stellar reputation within the county. I've met him a few times before, and he spoke to me about the Lotus Goddess and her sufferings."
"I know many people in villages worship the Lotus Goddess, and yet few people know that the mandatory sacrifices believers had to cough up, were all based on a bunch of fraudulent lies. It was a ploy to cheat and con believers of their money!"
"All of you are students, and thus are different from the masses. Not only must you uphold yourselves as honorable men, but also genuine men. When you stumble upon something like this, not only must you write a letter to the relevant authorities to inform them, but you also owe a duty to the people to ensure that the culprits behind these ploys are being captured and prosecuted. That is what we call decorum."
"As for that High Scholar, I have no idea where he ended up. But I can say for sure, that if a high learned man such as himself is unable to set apart real sacrifices to religion, and fraud, how can he hope to become a Grand Scholar."
The teaching official said fiercely, as though he were disciplining the many High Scholars before him. After pausing for several moments, he then smiled, "Gauging decorum first requires a person's status to be determined, followed by his depth, and lastly his feelings. Only after these three are established, can you determine the appropriate course of actions to take."
"This is of extreme importance, as it differentiates the educated from the uneducated. Everyone under the Emperor is aware on how to conduct themselves before His Majesty, and yet many are unaware how to conduct themselves before each other."
In actual fact, everyone was drowsy and falling asleep in class. Pei Zi Yun however, was attentive and captivated by the lesson. In this world, everyone from top down are ruled by a particular set of etiquettes and decorum. This includes the Emperor and his ministers, all the way down to common folk. The level of decorum reflects their status in society, which determines how the people are divided and the lastly the allocation of resources to these status groups.
That was, in essence the contents of the class.
When the class was over, High Scholar Fu and Pei Zi Yun bumped into Chen Jin Chun and Yu Guang Mao on the way out. The pair of High Scholars clasped their hands to greet High Scholar Fu, who smiled, "We are all High Scholars, there's no need for such ceremony."
Before Chen Jin Chun and Yu Mao Guang became High Scholars, they had lived in Fu Mansion and were spoilt by the comfortable lodging and delicious meals. Most importantly, they received the guidance of High Scholar Fu in times of need. Seeing him once again rekindled their respect for him. They talked to each other as they left the institution. When they were outside, they boarded their respective ox-carts and bade farewell to one another.
When they reached the mansion, they alighted the oxcart as High Scholar Fu smiled, "Well, that lesson was boring. However, as High Scholars, it's important knowledge to have. Knowing how to behave when engaging with people of different classes is fundamental. If not, behaving wrongly in a particular setting could get yourself into trouble."
"Thank you for your guidance. Actually, I didn't find it boring." Pei Zi Yun had studied sociology and international studies in his past life before becoming a stockbroker and had a clear understanding of these topics. He understood that every country had a ruler and ordinary citizens. The interaction between superior and subordinates might seem very simple, but it was a simplified analogy of how class systems worked from top to bottom.
Even in this current world, understanding who plays the role of master, and who is the servant was the essence of politics.
Pei Zi Yun would go so far as to say that even after reading a thousand Confucius books, it could not compare to the lecture he had just heard today. However, since he had already entered the Dao, he could slowly examine these ideas. He then asked, "I still have some queries. The dynasty had conferred a title on our sect, to which I am a little unclear of. Please explain to me further."
During the lecture earlier today, Pei Zi Yun could not help but thought of his sect and the relevance of the lesson to his sect.
High Scholar Fu pondered for some time, forming the thoughts in his head before speaking, "The imperial court divide their actions into four stances. They were Hostility, Harmony, Advocate and Partner Positions.
"Hostility Stance refers to the imperial court attacking and suppressing the Dao sects."
"Harmony Stance refers to the imperial court granting sects lawful existence. However, the sects are not allowed to interfere with the system or running of the nation. This is the current arrangements between sects and the imperial court.
"Advocate Stance refers to the imperial court being respectful of the cultivation of the sects and show favor to the sects. However, this does not mean that the imperial court will go so far as to offer sacrifices or tributes to the sects. However, if they do, it's only a one-time grace shown.
"Partner Stance refers to the imperial court making annual sacrifices and tributes to the sects. They will also share the Imperial Qi between themselves and the Dao sect. This is the most advantageous stance a sect can have with the imperial court."
"To be more specific, titles will be bestowed to the leaders of the sect once their sects attains Advocate Stance and above. In order for a sect to reach Advocate Stance with the imperial court, it will first have to be of the Harmony Stance. Likewise in order for a sect to reach the Partner Stance, it has to first be of the Advocate Stance. The Emperor can also bestow the title of Baron to deserving individuals. The titles then raise to Viscount, Count, Marquis, Duke and finally Prince, depending on the person's contribution, birth and merit."
"Within our sect, the titles that can be conferred would be Dao Masters and True Sovereigns."
Pei Zi Yun nodded his head in agreement. The titles bestowed upon the sect were first, Dao Master followed by True Sovereign. However, this title of True Sovereign wasn't the same as the True Sovereigns whose bodies become saintly and attain immortality. Instead, this True Sovereign title bestowed by Free Cloud Sect indicates a title within the spiritual realm.
'According to the original owner's memories, regardless of whether a title was obtained through the sect or through the spiritual realm, everyone still desired for the title conferred by the imperial court.'
'The duties of the outer disciples were to strive towards improving their standings with the imperial court. Hence, the disciples will help to build a solid reputation for the sect by writing books and building monasteries as often as they can. Another way they can do this would be through the killing of monsters and demons all across the region. This would aid in spreading the name and reputation of the sect. The last method would be to travel all across the nation and help by healing the sick and injured. This method was the last resort due to the fact that the recognition would be very minor and the effort taken was tremendous.'
'At this point, what is important is to amass the contributions towards the dynasty as soon as possible. Taking my own time off is out of the question.'
Thinking like this, Pei Zi Yun thus decided to represent the sect in making contributions toward the dynasty. Free Cloud Sect does not chase after wealth and riches. Instead, it strives to be stronger and have more power. However, in order to attain more strength and power, it would require lands and wealth. This way, it would have an unbroken stream of resources to sustain its acquisition of power.
"Healing the sick around the nation was something that every normal disciple from any sect would set out to accomplish. Travelling across the nation to slay demons and monsters were a common occurrence as well. In fact, so many people had been doing this that they were probably extremely proficient in these areas already.'
'As for the level of contribution rendered by Wei Ang, he wielded his own influence outside of the sect and contributed a fleet of ships and boats to travel to and from the sect. Additionally, he even built a monastery on a large plot of land, that saved the lives of thousands. In doing these, he was able to rise above his fellow disciples.'
'In order for me to catch up to the contributions of Wei Ang, I have to accomplish something big. At this point, Free Cloud Sect's title conferred was only Dao Master. According to the original owner's memories, the sects were all thrown into chaos after the death of the current Emperor. All the sect leaders with Prince titles were fighting for the crown and caused a great deal of inconvenience to the other sects. However, since Free Cloud Sect only had the authority of Dao Master, and yet already owned an entire mountain, disaster struck.'
'If I'm able to think of a way for the imperial court to grant our sect the title of True Sovereign, that would be a huge accomplishment. From then, we would wield significant authority and be prepared for when the dynasty collapses.'
'If I am able to accomplish this, not even Song Zhi or Wei Ang can be compared to me.'
'With this contribution alone, I would be able to become an honorary disciple. I would have at least satisfied the contributions requirement.'
Just as he was thinking out aloud to himself, he felt a sharp pain on his forehead. A small, white Plum Blossom appeared before his eyes, expanding rapidly before turning into an information interface. It was almost transparent as it floated around. Details began to form before his eyes. A red line of words appeared before him.
Mission: Establish a big achievement for the sect, become the most outstanding member within the outer sect
Pei Zi Yun stared at the screen for sometime before finally understanding, "The objectives of these was to make me establish a great accomplishment within a short period of time. This way, I would be able to compete against Wei Ang and Song Zhi in vying for a spot as the nucleus of the outer disciples."
The only thing was. How should he accomplish that outcome?
Pei Zi Yun paced several steps forward, with a plan in his mind in order to achieve his objectives and spread his reputation far and wide.
Since his name had already been recorded within the sect's logs, he could not take the Grand Scholar examination. The next best way was to write books and poems and create a reputation for himself. This was to only way to increase the authority of the sect, and achieve victory for himself. This method was very familiar with the original owner."