The Journey of Lightning Dragon (雷龍出道)
I decided to live in his house for three years, and luckily there was a separate building about sixty meters from the main thatched house. He had built a separate house to give later to his lover as to whether he had made a good fortune from fortune-telling. Judging from what he said, there was a lover in the Jinrang valley and a few more in the other countryside.
“This man is quite a womanizer.”
Maybe the reason he came out of the palace was to play love with a woman as his heart wanted. Of course, it’s not necessary to criticize the character of the assistant, so I closed my mouth first. I promised to live in a separate house and work at odd times to help out with his work.
“First of all, it will be hard to call me Wangliang Immortal Teacher (魍魎仙師) every time, so please call me Wangliang from now on.”
“May I call you Baek Woong?”
After establishing a calling name for each other, we started studying from the next day. I didn’t know what to study at first, but all of a sudden he showed a book that was so bulky. The title was “Ten Thousand Characters.” Embarrassed by the sudden thickness of the book, I looked at him.
“Baek Woong. All studies are based on Chinese characters. Familiarize yourself with the vocabulary from today. ”
Ten Thousand Characters!
I have seen this book before. Unlike the book of “Thousand Characters,” which young children learn to enter the study phase, it was a good way to memorize detailed vocabulary for Confucian scholars to pass the Imperial Examination in earnest. He bought a copy of the book for reading at home, but after seeing one or two pages, he put it away on one side and it was full of dust.
“Why do you pass the Thousand Characters?”
“When you study Ten Thousand Characters, you will memorize it automatically by yourself. Instead of wasting your time, let’s try to be tight from the beginning.”
“But Ten Thousand Characters are too much… ”
When I blurted out my words negatively, he said, “What are you talking about?”
“They are not ten thousand characters.”
“Oh, is it actually a little less?”
“No, this actually contains over thirty thousand characters.”
” … ”
For that moment, I almost swore out, “you son of a bitch.” The book was as thick as three layers of total thickness of my forearms. In fact, there were not five hundred Chinese characters that I could memorize and write properly. For me, the unit of thirty thousand words came under enormous pressure.
“I can’t help it. In the books of Formations and Extraordinary Gate Disguise (奇門遁甲), there are a large number of historical characters and lost words that are not used very well now. If a person is not familiar with all kinds of western languages, he or she should interpret it as a foreign language at the level of ordinary Confucian scholars. It’s not a choice, but a necessity.”
“… you can interpret it for me.”
“Of course I will, but I can’t give you everything you need.”
I didn’t feel I was being played on a trick, so I was forced to give up and sighed.
” … How many do I have to memorize each day?”
“You have to get to work at least a hundred words a day. Study every moment, except eating and sleeping.”
Even if I tried to put up with it, I could n
ot help feeling nausea. I was a human who had never had a lifelong study, and did not have to do much. Therefore, it was a torture to focus on the characters for hours.
Wangliang said, “Of course, it’s a little hard to expect the good study manner from you who have not studied before. So, let’s use the Brain Essence Sutra (雷精經) as a trick.”
“Brain Essence Sutra? You said that it boosted brain vitality. Does it work?”
“There is an effect to activate the chromosomes of the brain. It will help restore your concentration.”
So my day was set.
I invested in memorizing the entire characters except for the time I ate and slept, and I practiced Neigong for two hours. In addition, during the break time, I read Brain Essence Sutra to restore brain fatigue and enhance mental concentration. Yes, in theory, it was a perfect way to study.
He said, “I feel confident that you can pass the Children’s Imperial Examination no matter how useless you are if you study this way.”
But, I could not handle it!!!
Three days after I studied the Ten Thousand Characters, I felt the limit of my patience and lay staring at the ceiling of the empty house. The volume and intensity of my studies was no joke, and it made me go crazy to sit at the desk all day. Rather, when I trained in the martial arts, my body was hard and I forgot all miscellaneous thoughts. But, it was too difficult to develop the strength for the study.
‘I can now understand how Kim Man Jae felt.’
Even if I memorize the entire words, studying hard, it will be hard for me to pass the Imperial Examination. The life of the scholars looks like weaker than the martial artists’, but in fact, the scholars are fighting harder than anyone else every day.
My study desire revived when I thought about Kim Man Jae.
If I don’t study right now, what’s the difference between Kim Man Jae and I? I cannot live on the same level as human waste, who used to swindle his parents and be addicted to wine, women, and gambling.
The time I lived a life, rolling as a guard for decades feeling bitter and repeating death to get the Millennium Snow Ginseng, has passed like a revolving lantern. All of that was necessary for me to lead my life though it was the desperate time for patience and pain.
‘I can’t give up at this much! I’ll go further.’
The cries from the inside made me study again. I started to read out the Chinese characters by making noises in a still, quiet annex while clenching my teeth.
‘It doesn’t matter whether it is ten thousand words or thirty thousand words. If I memorize some words every day, I will memorize all of them someday.’
With that thinking, I became relaxed.
Half of the years passed since I had started studying. Indeed, except for the hours I ate and slept, I studied and tried my best to memorize a hundred words a day. Because of my Neigong, my physical strength was never short, but I often lacked concentration. I would soon recover my concentration by reminiscing Brain Essence Sutra and putting my mind into a state of stillness.
When I asked about the effects of Brain Essence Sutra on recovery, Wangliang’s answer was concise.
“It is a transformation of the Buddhist text into the Daoism style.”
“Is it a recitation song?”
“Most religious recitation songs are like that. It seems pointless but it affects the mind.”
He, who said so, examined my homework and said, “As of today, you have reached the level of the study of the village school. Let’s get used to the Chinese characters you memorized.”
“What are you going to do?”
“Let’s read the Four Books and Three Classics (四書三經: Chinese classics of Confucianism).”
“Excuse me? How can I …”
‘For the Four Books and Three Classics, someone must study a lot of general writings, then he can read it.’
“Do you happen to know how many Chinese characters are?”
“I don’t know.”
I stared at him for a moment, hoping he played the pun. But he replied calmly, “Chinese character is the only open set of characters in the world. Anyone can make new Chinese characters right away. Other country’s words will not be enlarged unless a new phoneme is added to the language. But since each Chinese character has a certain meaning, we have to create a new one when we have a new concept that doesn’t exist.”
‘I have no idea what he is talking about, so I’ll just be listening to him.’
“No one knows how many Chinese characters there are. That’s why the Ten Thousand Characters has over thirty thousand characters in it. I can’t help it since they have collected all sorts of small Chinese characters.”
I replied brusquely to him, who used the intellectual violence on my brain.
“Right. But why do I have to read the Four Books and Three Classics?”
“Because the Four Books and Three Classics is a standard biography (正傳) which is not affected by such a creator. That is, no matter how much times change, it is a sutra that can be studied by basic characters. Even the amount you’ve studied so far will be enough to read it.”
“And if you read the book, you will be able to speak Chinese characters more freely.”
‘Is it true? I couldn’t help but doubt his words.’
The Four Books and Three Classics refers to the seven or nine major Confucian scriptures; however, among the many students, the total number of those who read it completely is less than ten percent. Some critics say that it is a difficult book to read and understand, but others say that with these seven books, they can pass the Children’ Imperial Examination.
I had never thought I could read such a book, as I had worked as a guard for all my life. But his remark was true. I could read all of the Analects of Confucius (論語), one of the three great discourses, in three days at the most. I couldn’t believe it after I read it, so I sat still in my seat for a long time. I read the book all by myself without his help.
He grinned when I told him about my achievement.
“The rest are nothing. If I help you, you can read the entire Four Books and Three Classics in a month.”
That remark was also true. I could read it in three weeks, not a month, when he helped me from the side. I was so embarrassed because I could not imagine reading the entire books, which were considered one of the most important study books for scholars.
“What happened to me? Don’t they usually study for years to finish reading the Four Books and Three Classics?”
“Their method is very inefficient at studying.”
He spoke derisively of the scholars.
“They always sit on the desk and try to squeeze their brain, but all the studies are based on Chinese characters. Baek Woong, the number of Chinese characters you’ve looked at in half a year is at least ten thousand words, and even if you’ve learned only half the characters, it’s about five thousand words. When the scholars take hold of the scriptures and discuss some, you have studied the basics thoroughly, so you don’t have to study additionally. The serious problem is that they partly force to interpret it when they study…”
I felt I had come to the right place.
“Baek Woong, I think your memory ability is too good.”
“I’ve seen you studying these days, and when you look at ten, you memorize about four perfectly on the spot. When you look at it three or four times, you memorize all. Of course, it’s a bit like a genius, but it’s true that it is much higher memory ability than normal.”
“I was not very good at memorizing things …”
When I spoke frankly, he tilted his head and said, “Did the recitation effect of Brain Essence Sutra resonate your Neigong? Other than that, I don’t think why.”
It might be so. When I recited Brain Essence Sutra, I felt my Neigong slightly pulled up in the whole body. At that time, I thought, “I was in a bad condition.” But now I recognized my brain power seemed to become better.
When I finished studying the Four Books and Three Classics, I was able to devote most of my time to learning the remaining characters of the Ten Thousand Characters. It was a year and a half when I finished memorizing the entire characters.
Only then could I enter Taiji Extraordinary Book (太極奇書) and Yi Shu Original Book (易術眞本).
However, as I saw the first chapters of the books, I was soppy.
“Hmm … it’s too difficult.”
Taiji means the main body considered as the origin of all things, universe; Yi Shu refers to the technique or method of making almanac by observing periodic phenomenon of celestial body.
At first, I didn’t know what it meant; instead, I thought that black is letter and white is paper. But when I read the Yi Shu Original Book in the state of mastery of the Ten Thousand Characters, it was twisted so much that it could not be compared to the ordinary scriptures. There were too many difficult Chinese characters that were complicated to interpret and rarely used. It was hard to say that it was a book that was designed to read.
I glanced at the volume.
“Wangliang, did you throw me into the book that was so hard to read?”
He looked at the wrong direction and said in a quiet voice, “I thought at that time you were the leading successor and a secret weapon of Righteous Factions. I also thought you were a talented man, who knows both literary works and martial arts.”
“After all, if you start now, you’ll finish most of your studies within a year.”
His words were not wrong. As a result, within a year, I was able to finish all Taiji Extraordinary Book and Yi Shu Original Book, and then I entered the basic Formations (陣法) and Extraordinary Gate Disguise.
But the process was truly bumpy. Later, I repeated the process of learning, memory, and brain use so severely that I didn’t even have time to train myself. Arithmetic (算術) and Mathematical theory (數理) were especially difficult, so I had to memorize precisely and put them in my brain.
I forgot the reason why I kept studying at a separate house. Every moment I was just memorizing things like this again and again…
“Hum … Damn it! Why am I doing this?”
Almost three years passed since I had started studying under Wangliang. When I thought I had learned enough, I went to him.
“I think it’s time to get Anonymous Ceremonial Book (無名祭事書).”
Then he said, “Very well. I will teach you how to attack the Imperial Palace.”
And after three days, I left the Jinrang valley. There was a sense of emptiness in the air as time seemed to have flown by. My Neigong did not improve in the meantime, but I have had the very hard time studying arduously. I shook my head.
“I overcame just one crucial moment.”
‘Let’s not think it over.’
My hand was lined with a scroll of the Imperial Palace map given by Wangliang, and I found a book, named ‘How to break the Extraordinary Gate Disguise of the Imperial Palace’ in a bundle, which was written by Wangliang. Keeping the attack plan in mind for three days, I felt confident that I would succeed.
The goal was to bring the Anonymous Ceremonial Book out of the Imperial Palace!