Welcome to my new translation project, a comedy/drama Xianxia BL novel! There are going to be a ton of footnotes this chapter since we’re slowly getting introduced to a bunch of characters and places.
In the cultivation world, the Honored Lord Lianhua1 was essentially a synonym for God.
Don't mention how his first-generation disciples are revered as the Three Saints. Don't mention how his disciple-grandchildren and disciple-great-grandchildren control the entire cultivator world's Six Great Sects. Even the humblest servants who swept his courtyard are now all the brightest and best leaders of their own sects.
Anything the Honored Lord Lianhua touched, even a single flower or blade of grass, would be extraordinarily blessed with good fortune and the ability to enter the Dao.
Okay, that's enough, you can see how supreme this Honored Lord's existence really is.
And right now, this Lord Lianhua who could quake the three worlds with the movement of a single finger… was troubled.
After a hundred years of closed-door cultivation, he had finally spied upon the will of the heavens. He originally thought ascending to the heavens was in sight, but he could never have imagined what scene actually greeted him…
Amongst the clouds, the prismatic rays of the setting sun flooded the sky. The collapsed Heavenly Staircase transformed into stars, scattering and falling in all directions. Their dim twinkling light, akin to forest fireflies, was so weak and faint as to chill one's heart.
Upon closer inspection, the silhouette of the Heavenly Staircase was still visible. But with its foundation gone, there was no way to advance a single step.
In the last millennium, not a single person in the cultivation world had ascended.
Shen Qingxian2 had believed it was because the previous sages' Daoist hearts were insincere so they could not pass the Heavenly Chasm. He had not thought of the possibility that the path to the heavens had crumbled, cutting off the road to ascension.
Could he only go this far?
After his Shifu ascended, was his generation destined to stop here?
It didn't only affect him——after the collapse of the Heavenly Staircase, those after him would also only be able to come to this step.
Bitterly cultivating, painstakingly pursuing the Dao… and finally only reaching this end, without a road to the heavens.
How could he willingly accept this?
Shen Qingxian closed his eyes and clasped his hands together. All of a sudden, a wave of dazzling light rose from the ground with extreme magnificent radiance. Even in this windless, soundless, empty world, the brilliance set off a majestic force like the oceans reaching the sky!
The radiance swelled and expanded. It covered the heavens and earth with its gushing power, as if the midday sun had descended into pitch-black night and illuminated the world in an instant.
Shen Qingxian had used this technique once before, six hundred years ago.
At that time, a feud between two of his disciples had expanded into a fierce battle which resulted in living spirits burning into charcoal, numerous cities reduced to ash.
Shen Qingxian had applied this technique to draw up the lives of a hundred thousand living spirits, returning everything to its original perfect appearance.
And this powerful restoration technique… did not even stir up a ripple on the Heavenly Staircase.
Was restoring the Heavenly Staircase… actually a delusional dream?
Shen Qingxian was just thinking this when an unexpected dark red bolt rose towards the sky. Immediately afterwards, a jade-colored beam of light appeared, suspended on the silhouette of the collapsed Heavenly Staircase.
Shen Qingxian stared intently, managing to make out an object within that red radiance.
A scroll of jade strips.3
Shen Qingxian walked closer. He extended his hand to touch it once, and a whiff of unfamiliar yet extremely strong spiritual energy flowed into his palm.
The radiance dissipated and the jade scroll unfurled. With forceful brushstrokes, a line of text appeared on its surface: "The Path of the Heavens4 has fallen, there is no gateway to ascension. If you desire to restore it, follow the directions of this jade scroll."
"Restore it?" Shen Qingxian softly whispered, "Is it possible to restore it?"
As if it was replying to his words, another small line of text appeared on the jade scroll: "First, meet with Gu Jianshen5."
Shen Qingxian thought for a moment. The figure of a man appeared in his mind.
The Heart Domain’s Gu Jiuyuan?6
The cold wind rustled, the snow and frost covered the whole sky. Stretching a hundred li7, the towering Wanxiu Mountain8 reached the clouds, as if it could touch the heavens themselves.
Wreathed in clouds and mist sat a great hall9 with blue10 tiles and high walls, cold and desolate in its quiet seclusion, like an immortal island in the ocean.
No one had set foot in this great hall for many centuries, yet today it was abnormally lively and bustling. Outside, countless disciples bowed. Inside the hall, a censer burned and spiritual tea boiled. Amongst the ethereal misty fragrance, several cultivators in full regalia sat facing each other.
On the left upper side, a man in green10 slapped the table and stood up: "Discuss the Dao (Path) with demonic cultivators? Old Four11, are you crazy?!"
Below him, a comely man said: "Senior disciple-brother, do not be impatient. For now, listen until Ziliang finishes talking."
Although Zeng Ziliang was the younger disciple-brother of these two men, he looked obviously older than them. His appearance was also more grave and steady: "The Ideal Heart12 Palace sent an invitation, you can all see it for yourselves."
The green-clothed male became enraged: "When this kind of demon palace sends letters over, just directly throw them into the fire!"
Zeng Ziliang looked at him and spoke with deep meaning: "It is scarlet13 in color."
The green-clothed man abruptly paused.
The comely man with ink-black hair took over the invitation. After glancing it over, his pupils suddenly contracted: "Demon Lord Jiuyuan personally wrote this?"
Zeng Ziliang sighed heavily.
With this, even the irascible green-clothed man calmed down.
You could hear a needle drop in the complete silence that filled the hall.
These six people were all disciples of the same master, alongside the Three Saints. Although each one led their own sect, they all cultivated the Path of the Heavens and were all proteges of the Honored Lord Lianhua. As a result, they had inseparable relationships and rapports with each other. In the case of a large-scale event, they would all gather at Wanxiu Mountain, conferring and adjudicating together.
Zeng Ziliang spoke first: "Shizun14 is wandering the earth and has not been seen in the last hundred years. We have no way to consult him. We must receive Demon Lord Jiuyuan's scarlet invitation in one way or another."
Like a hot potato, the invitation before their eyes ended up on the warm jade table, as if it burned with blazing flames.
Where the Path of the Heavens had the Honored Lord Lianhua, demonic cultivation had the Honored Emperor Jiuyuan.
Don't mention these six people——even if the Three Saints were present, they would furrow their brows in worry at seeing this invitation.
Go? How could the dignified and orthodox Path of the Heavens go discuss the Dao with those demonic cultivators that deceived and defied the natural order?!
Don't go? That Demon Lord Jiuyuan might use this as an excuse to cause trouble, stirring up a reign of terror and carnage!
The green-clothed man Ye Zhan said: "You're all cowards! If you want to go, go ahead. In any case, I, Ye Zhan, am definitely not attending this banquet!"
Zeng Ziliang said: "Senior disciple-brother, do not let your emotions affect your decisions. That demon lord has a sly and treacherous disposition. This is his personally written invitation, if we don't go…"
Ye Zhan interrupted him: "If it comes to killing or cutting off his flesh in punishment, I would definitely not hang back. But you want me to cater to that devil? No way in hell!"
"On that topic…." the comely man Cheng Jing murmured for a moment: "….why is Gu Jiuyuan sending an invitation to us?"
"Might as well go…." a lazy voice sounded from the man with hetero-chromatic eyes sitting in the corner, "in the past few years, the Heart Domain has grown considerably more powerful. If we go check this out, we can know ourselves and know the enemy15."
Ye Zhan sneered: "Check this out? Are you going to seek refuge from that devil?!"
The man with hetero-chromatic eyes smiled idly, declining to answer.
Zeng Ziliang said: "The old regulations——majority rules."
After his words fell, Zeng Ziliang took the lead: "I'm going."
The man with hetero-chromatic eyes waved a lily-white hand: "I'm going too."
The beautiful woman to his lower right also softly murmured agreement.
Ye Zhan looked at Cheng Jing right beside him.
Cheng Jing's eyelashes lowered. He paused for a moment and then said: "I'm going."
With these four people, there was a majority agreeing to attend. Having maintained his refusal to go, Ye Zhan didn't say another word and stormed out.
The instant he exited the door, a ray of prismatic sunset light rose towards the sky. In an instant, the harmonious songs of magical birds and beasts16 sounded all over Wanxiu Mountain
The other five people within the hall abruptly stood up and hurried to the door of the hall.
The scene outside was one of mind-blowing and breathtaking supreme beauty!
In the blink of an eye, the original icy winter had returned to animated flourishing spring. In that shroud of radiance, the lonely cold had dissipated, replaced by mild warmth. The grasses and trees swayed in the welcoming wind, ten thousand flowers stretched their branches to bloom and blossom. It was as if the entire mountain had come alive, assuming its most graceful posture to greet the return of its master.
Ye Zhan, Zeng Ziliang, Cheng Jing… these six mighty powers of the world all bowed over in the great salute of disciples.
The disciples standing outside had not yet recovered from their shocked daze. They stared ahead blankly, all their lines of sight attracted to that figure of white.
That faint and light white became the most dazzling existence in the zenith of the radiance.
He wore the most normal of white robes, his hair drawn up in the most common of buns, without even a hint of extra ornamentation. Yet that air of clear ripples17 pressed down on everything under the heavens.
All hearts beat as one.
Upon recovering, every single person was kneeling on the ground.
——Their bodies were not controlled, it was all freely done from the heart.
In that instant, the only thing that could be felt was sincere devotion and childlike admiration, as well as a flood of indescribable and unspeakable emotion filling the entire chest.
The man at the pinnacle of the Path of the Heavens, the Honored Lord Lianhua, the supreme "god" of all cultivators.
"All rise." Accompanying this voice as clear and bright as the moon, a wave of warm and gentle wind unfurled. All the kneeling people stood up, all feeling the same purifying clarity within their bodies. Any areas of pent-up mental stagnation in the past were now completely flowing unimpeded, and cultivation ability surged ahead immensely too!
Joy appeared on the faces of the crowd of disciples, and they bowed again in gratitude.
Ye Zhan took a step forward. This sect master so widely known for his severity and rigidity, was at this moment excited to the point where his thin lips quavered. The sound of his voice was extremely soft and mild: "Honored Lord!"
Shen Qingxian raised his hand towards them: "Inside."
He walked in the front. The other six people followed behind, each one as docile and obedient as the lowest disciples that had just entered a sect18.
The younger generations outside were even more stunned, not daring to take a breath. They didn't even dare to look at the faces of the sect masters, out of fear of offending this superior.
Upon entering the Heavenly Listening Hall19, Zeng Ziliang remembered the Demon Lord's invitation. His heart skipped a beat, and beads of sweat immediately rose to his forehead.
It wasn't only him——Cheng Jing, the young woman, and the slovenly hetero-chromatic man… at this moment, all of them were anxiously clenching their fists.
The Path of the Heavens and the Heart Domain had had irreconcilable differences and standpoints for the past ten thousand years, with numerous crusades against each other. A thousand years ago, the Honored Lord Lianhua had exterminated the malevolent Fallen Corpse race, badly injuring the vitality of the Heart Domain.
The Ideal Heart Palace had sent the Four Death Crossing20 Generals, whose cultivation ability rivaled the Three Saints. Yet in the end, the Honored Lord Lianhua made them yield with ease. That battle had become legend in the cultivation world, passed down to this day.
The Honored Lord Lianhua represented the Path of the Heavens. Without a doubt, he surely loathed the Heart Domain to the extreme.
But that scarlet invitation to discuss the Dao was still placed on the table…..
Zeng Ziliang regretted everything. If he had known the Honored Lord would emerge today, he would rather die than receive that invitation!
Shen Qingxian sat in the middle of the hall and pressed his hand down: "Why are you all gathered here? Is there some matter that requires deliberation?"
He had not appeared in the past hundred years, but he still understood the rules and regulations of today.
These disciple-grandchildren all led their own sects. If it wasn't for some large-scale event, they would not gather here.
Though he had not concealed the motions of his emergence, he had not notified them ahead of time either. Within this short period of time, the six people all appearing here must be due to previous arrangements.
The six people all did not speak a word. Shen Qingxian's gaze shifted slightly, and he caught sight of the scarlet invitation on the table.
The invitation flickered both light and dark. In flamboyant cursive calligraphy was the eye-popping vivid word "Heart".
Zeng Ziliang was afraid Ye Zhan would screw him over. He directly knelt down and spoke out loud: "Honored Lord, this disciple is guilty!"
Once he knelt, the four people who had previously raised their hands in agreement to attend also knelt together.
Shen Qingxian picked up the invitation. He opened it up and looked it over: "Discuss the Dao with the Ideal Heart Sect at the Astral Sea?"
Zeng Ziliang was nervous to the point where sweat soaked his back, but he could only honestly admit it: "Yes."
It's over it's over….the Honored Lord detests demonic cultivation to the bone. Upon knowing they wanted to attend, he will definitely fly into a terrible rage!
He hadn't opened his mouth to confess and apologize, when Shen Qingxian asked: "Is Gu Jianshen going?"
Footnotes: (hoo boy there are a ton)
1. 涟华: 涟(lián) = ripple; 华(huá) = flower/floral. Lianhua is the MC's courtesy/style name, which is incorporated into his title.
2. 沈清弦: 沈(shěn) = surname that also means liquid/pour; 清(qīng) = clear/clean/quiet; 弦(xián) = the strings/chords of an instrument
Yes, everyone here has multiple names. Shen is the MC's surname. Qingxian is the MC's birth/given name, while Lianhua is his courtesy/style name.
3. 玉简: A scroll made of strips of jade, each with writing on them. Something like this:
4. 天道: lit. "Heavenly Dao/Path" = the path of cultivation practiced by Shen Qingxian and the rest of the righteous/orthodox cultivators. It also carries the meaning of "will of the heavens" and "destiny".
5. 顾见深: 顾(gù) = look after, mind, attend to; 见(jiàn) = meet, see; 深(shēn) = deep
6. 九渊(jiǔ yuān) = Nine Abysses.
Again, multiple names~ Gu is the ML’s surname. Jianshen is the ML's birth/given name, while Jiuyuan is his courtesy/style name.
7. 里(lǐ) = Chinese unit of length, around 500 m. A hundred li would therefore be 50,000m or 31 miles
8. 万秀山 lit. translates to Ten Thousand Elegance Mountain
9. 殿 = palace hall, temple. 大殿 is usually used to describe the main hall of a Buddhist temple.
10. 青 is a strange color… it can refer to either blue, green, or something in between. I chose to infer based on context.
11. Seniority is a big deal in Chinese culture, especially in something as traditional as cultivation. In this case, when a master takes disciples, each disciple is given a number in the order that they were taken in. This man in green is addressing the fourth disciple of their same master.
12. 唯心 is lit. "Only Heart", but can also be interpreted as one's ideals. I compromised by making it “Ideal Heart.”
13. 正红 lit. Correct Red = the traditional favorite color of the Chinese nation, a brilliant red that I translated as scarlet.
14. 师尊 lit. Honored Teacher, basically what you call your Shifu if you really like him or he's really powerful
15. 知己知彼 lit. "Know thyself, know the enemy"–famous idiom from Sun Tzu's Art of War
16. 龙吟凤哕 lit. "the chants of dragons, the ringing of phoenixes"
17. 清涟 lit. "clear ripple" is a pun on Shen Qingxian's name! It takes Qing from his birth/given name and Lian from his courtesy name 😛
18. 记名弟子 lit. "Name-Recorded Disciples" are the newest and lowest disciples whose name is just for show and haven't truly entered the sect yet.
19. 乾听 (qián tīng): 乾 = one of the Eight Trigrams of divination, symbolizing heaven/male principle; 听 = listen
20. 亡渡 (wáng dù) : 亡 = die/death; 渡 = to cross/ferry