Chapter 521 - Blank Wooden Tablet
The lofty palace in front was surrounded by thriving vegetation, full of vitality. Green radishes cascaded down the palace walls like a waterfall. Only through cracks could one see the exquisite white jade patterns and the auspicious motif on the wall, carefully carved by a master craftsman. An unusual fragrance pervaded the air. It was complicated, yet mild and difficult to deliberately detect, but heart-piercing when unintentionally discovered. Even brilliant wood elementalists weren’t able to identify the types of fresh flowers found in this fragrance in a short period of time.
Standing before the palace, Yu Mingqiu was slightly absent-minded.
The dense wood elemental energy surged like the sea, and it was as if Yu Mingqiu was standing opposite from and facing an oceanic sheet of a wood elemental energy.
Looking at it surge and overflow soundlessly. Looking at the calm waves and its stillness.
He extended his gaze toward the sky and the surging wood elemental energy gathered, approaching from all directions like worshipping believers.
Yu Mingqiu’s heart leapt. Exactly how much wood elemental energy is needed to form this oceanic sheet of wood elemental energy?
Suddenly, he wondered if that small courtyard in which his teacher had become a Grandmaster had been reduced to dust.
Hai Qing did not disturb Yu Mingqiu. He stood before the palace gate and waited quietly.
Grandmasters did not need guards. Usually, other than Dai Gang and Hai Qing, there were only a few accompanying servants, so it was very quiet.
Yu Mingqiu regained his senses. "Sorry, Hai Qing. My wind wandered."
Hai Qing responded faintly, "No matter."
Yu Mingqiu followed behind Hai Qing and walked toward the palace, receiving bows from female servants along the way. They looked curiously at Yu Mingqiu. This face was very foreign to them.
"What’s the name of the palace?"
"Palace of Origin."
Yu Mingqiu’s footsteps became slightly sluggish, his heart indescribably shaken up.
Power of Origin, beyond elemental energy!
Grandmasters were still unable to break away from the elemental energy framework. Was Teacher trying to detach himself from his Grandmaster level?
Indeed, there were none above Grandmasters. Under the current elemental energy system, Grandmasters were the limit. To surpass Grandmasters, one would have to break free from these shackles.
What would be the realm beyond elemental energy like?
Yu Mingqiu pondered absentmindedly.
Hai Qing, who was leading the way, explained, "This palace was jointly built by a few families, the Lu Residence included, as a gift to Grandmaster Dai."
Yu Mingqiu commented casually, "Quite beautiful."
The winding pavilion corridor, rockery, and moon gate were beautifully arranged. Koi fish were frolicking in the pond, and there were all kinds of vegetation, many of which Yu Mingqiu couldn’t recognize. He’d also seen some of them in the Wilderness.
The enormous palace was like a myriad plant garden.
His field of view suddenly opened up on a small, undulating hill. The grass was like a blanket, clean and simple. There was also a small, lone courtyard located on the hill.
Unknowingly, Yu Mingqiu’s eyes turned moist.
"Grandmaster Dai feels more comfortable living in his own little courtyard, so it’s been moved over."
Hai Qing’s voice sounded, as if from the high and faraway clouds.
Upon seeing Dai Gang, Yu Mingqiu observed that time hadn’t taken its toll on the middle aged man. He sat before the tea table, looking at Yu Mingqiu with a slight smile.
"Welcome back, Xiao Qiu."
Yu Mingqiu felt calm at this point. He greeted expressionlessly, "Teacher."
"Sit. I haven’t heard anything about you for a few years and have been very worried."
Dai Gang’s words warmed Yu Mingqiu’s heart. He kept silent, loosened the big bow on his back, and sat opposite his teacher.
Hai Qing had already left quietly.
Dai Gang poured a cup of tea for Yu Mingqiu and smiled. "It seems like you haven’t been suffering for nothing. So much more robust. I’ve been to the deeper parts of the Wilderness and suffered quite a lot too. That’s a good place to toughen somebody up."
Yu Mingqiu did not respond as he knew not what to say.
Dai Gang eyed the bow beside Yu Mingqiu and said, "Let Teacher have a look."
Yu Mingqiu grabbed it and handed it over to his teacher.
Dai Gang held it and stood up, pulling it in a relaxed manner. He praised, "Good bow! Is it made from divine cypress? I’ve seen a divine cypress tree in the Wilderness. Its crown was lush, and its core sturdy and resistant to sword slashes. I’d thought of plucking a few branches to bring back for refining weapons, but encountered a strong enemy and was fully occupied."
The bow’s body was plain and simple. It looked like it was made by carving a stick that was as thick as a wrist with a knife. The bowstring was a white beast tendon that was stretched taut.
Dai Gang was considered a tall man, but this bow was a head taller than him.
Yu Mingqiu replied, "Divine cypress."
Dai Gang commented, "The bowstring is a little weak. The silver-ringed glue is unable to bring out the might of the divine cypress. Good bow. While it’s not on par with Blue Dome of Heaven, it has a lot of room for growth. Plus, you refined it yourself, so it’s linked to your life force and can surpass Blue Dome of Heaven in future. Where’s Blue Dome of Heaven?"
Yu Mingqiu answered, "Damaged in battle."
Blue Dome of Heaven, personally forged by Dai Gang, was a weapon gifted to Yu Mingqiu. The material he’d used were extraordinary; the three branches and green vines were objects that had been while he was undergoing the breakthrough to become a Grandmaster.
Blue Dome of Heaven rose to fame immediately upon completion.
Dai Gong put the bow aside and sat down before saying, "Look, with destruction comes construction. The world is mostly like that."
Yu Mingqiu clasped the teacup, not saying a word.
Dai Gang looked at him. "When the blood catastrophe first erupted, I was convinced that the Elders Guild would not be able to reverse the situation. It’s the Avalon of Five Elements’s fate."
Yu Mingqiu put his teacup down and responded expressionlessly, "Fate is determined by the heavens and not man."
Dai Gang chuckled. He wasn’t angry. "Xiao Qiu, do you think An Muda would’ve agreed if I proposed for him and I to take over the Elders Guild?"
Yu Mingqiu was stunned. This was a question he hadn’t thought about. After some serious thought, he felt that An Muda would’ve most likely agreed.
Dai Gang continued faintly, "Outsiders aren’t aware that I ever paid An Muda a visit. They’re clueless about the fact that An Muda had asked if I was willing to take over."
Yu Mingqiu was thoroughly shocked.
"And I rejected him."
Yu Mingqiu jerked his head up. "Why?"
Dai Gang replied calmly, "I asked myself if I was able to save the Avalon of Five Elements and the answer was no."
"Correct, I can’t. Can I eliminate the conflict between the new citizens and aristocratic families? No. The Elders Guild was already rotten. It was no longer a matter of killing one or two people, so was I going to kill all of them? An Muda wouldn’t have agreed either. Can this bunch of fellows, each with their own ulterior motive, take the Holy Emperor down? I don’t think so. The Elders Guild was doomed to fail. An Muda wouldn’t have been able to save it. I wouldn’t have been able to save it."
Yu Mingqiu’s eyes were bright and shiny as he looked straight into Dai Gang’s eyes. "Then why make the Jadeite Forest independent?"
"Because I can save it." Dai Gang smiled. "An Muda regarded the Avalon as home, so naturally he was willing to sacrifice everything for it. I’m different. What has the Avalon got to do with me? Chen’er, you, and Huanghun are all in the Jadeite Forest. I can protect it, protect everyone, and that’s enough for me. What do other people have to do with me? Plus, I didn’t want to fail and worry about failing."
Yu Mingqiu opened his mouth, but knew not what to say.
"I know you want to say that the common people are innocent. You’re different from your senior. He’s benevolent, yearns for a simple life, and works hard for it. You, on the other hand, are stubborn and obstreperous. You attach great importance on camaraderie and being chivalrous and heroic, but you must understand where you come from, where you’re heading to, and who your relatives, friends, and enemies are. You must be clear that you, your senior’s Lu residence, and your junior’s Duanmu household are all from the Jadeite Forest."
"There are so many things in this world to feel helpless about. Are you able to deal with all of them? Even if you’re a Grandmaster, your ability is limited when faced with the powerful influences. The pain you’ve suffered is negligible." Dai Gang gave Yu Mingqiu a meaningful look. "If you want to do more, focus on getting stronger. The stronger you are, the better the world will understand your pain and suffering."
Yu Mingqiu kept quiet. He had something different in mind, but did not know how to refute.
"Your senior is here."
A knock on the door sounded immediately after. Lu Chen’s voice came from outside. "Teacher."
Yu Mingqiu was very surprised by his senior’s appearance. He felt the trace of a distinct aura when Lu Chen walked in. He didn’t look too well and was also very surprised to see Yu Mingqiu. "Xiao Qiu’s here too."
Yu Mingqiu hurriedly greeted, "Senior!"
Lu Chen sat down and got right to the point, "Why are you protecting Lu Feng, Teacher?"
Hearing this name, Yu Mingqiu turned serious, while the word "protecting" turned his expression ugly.
He’d been involved in investigating who was plotting against Ai Hui and Mingxiu.
Seeing his disciples’ expressions, Dai Gang sighed. "Follow me in."
After that, he walked toward the study room.
Lu Chen and Yu Mingqiu made eye contact and saw the surprise in each other’s faces. Teacher had never allowed anyone into his study room. Not them and not Qing Hai.
They’d been following Teacher for so many years, but hadn’t been allowed to enter.
They were rather curious. Lu Feng was merely a disciple in name, so why was he worth making a fuss over?
It couldn’t be said that Teacher was unfeeling, but he definitely wasn’t someone to place an importance on relationships.
The study room was solemn and dim. Candles were lit in all four corners, with some high up and some below. The candle flames swayed gently. There weren’t shelves full of books or luxurious objects. There was a mat woven from reeds and a faintly green, long-necked vase with a budding plum blossom in it. Overall, it was a simple and unadorned study room.
Nonetheless, Lu Chen and Yu Mingqiu’s gaze were fixed on the wall.
Seven sandalwood tablets hung on the wall in a row.
The second wooden tablet had two words on it: "Lu Chen."
The third wooden tablet had two words on it: "Yu Mingqiu."
At the end of the row, in order, were the words "Duanmu Huanghun,""Quan Minglong," and "Lu Feng."
The duo’s gaze converged on the first wooden tablet. There were no words on it.
"You two have a senior."
Although they somewhat had a vague feeling about this, Lu Chen and Yu Mingqiu were still greatly shaken upon hearing it with their own ears!
They’d been following their teacher around since they were young and had never been aware that they actually had a senior.
This was especially the case for Lu Chen. All along, he’d believed himself to be the eldest. Who knew he actually had a senior.
Dai Gang’s gaze fell upon that blank wooden tablet.
Still processing this sudden news, Yu Mingqiu glanced at his teacher out of the corner of his eyes and was startled.
He actually saw grief in his teacher’s eyes.
In his mind, Teacher was like a god, always smiling.
He’d never seen sorrow or the like on his teacher’s face before today.
"I don’t care about the hostility between you guys. I will absolutely not allow my disciples and students to attack one another.
Dai Gang’s tone was calm, but unyielding. Disobedience was intolerable.
Like a god’s decree.