Chapter 12: Tomb of the founder
Lu Mingshu lay on the bed, unable to fall asleep until late at night.
The moonlight outside flourished greatly, and a gleam of light coincidentally shone through a small hole that shed skylight onto her window.
She thought repeatedly on what to do. The advantage of staying here was that she would not be disturbed, whereas the disadvantage would be that having a Master was no different from not having a Master. She could practice martial arts if she went to the lower house, but she would not have anyone to care for her.
It appeared as though there was no other choice. If she wanted to practice martial arts, she could only go to the lower house. But, she was afraid she would make the wrong choice.
As she lost herself in the train of thoughts, she drowsily fell asleep.
Not knowing how long had passed, she sat up carelessly.
It was dusky in the room, yet it was exceptionally bright outside.
Lu Mingshu left the bed and opened the door.
The formerly dark cave was now brimming with light.
She was attracted by that light, walking step by step towards it.
Unknowingly, walking deeper and deeper.
In the cave, the stone paths intersected, densely packed like a spider web. Yet she seemed as if she had a target, walking forward without the slightest hesitation.
Walking past stone paths, passing through numerous stone halls, she finally stopped in the hollowed-out middle of the mountain.
The empty mountain cavity was wider than Nine Jade Palace's largest plaza, void of any furnishing in its surroundings. There was nothing but a skeleton sitting on the stone platform in the middle of this space.
1This skeleton sat with a crossed-legged posture on the stone platform. It was naked with nothing on, and it's hands folded together over an object that shone faintly.
Lu Mingshu stretched out her hand, and that object began levitating in front of her.
This object was four-way with six sides in total, a cube with distinct edges and corners. What struck out most was that it was made up of many identical, small square-shaped blocks. With nine on each row and nine on each column, a total of 9×9 equalled 81 small square blocks on each side. Each small cube was engraved with succinct patterns; there were mountains and lakes being portrayed in these patterns, as well as animals and plants and pictures of ambiguous meaning. The patterns were filled with colours, and when Lu Mingshu counted, there were in total six colours comprising the following: red, yellow, blue, green, black, and white.
3When she reached out to lightly touch it, she realized that these small cubes could be twisted. A side that was made up of 81 cubes, whether horizontal or vertical, outer layer or middle, could be twisted. With every twist, the small cube's combination of colours on each side would change.
1Now, with all these colours mixed up, the cube looked especially disordered.
As she examined it, a thought flashed past Lu Mingshu's mind.
And that was exactly what she did. However, with 81 cubes on each side and a chain change each time she twisted one row or column, one could imagine the difficulty in returning each side to a unified colour!
A few careless turns and the colours turned even messier.
Lu Mingshu stopped her movements, carefully observing it.
… She thought step by step, her train of thought extending out in the same direction.
A long time seemed to have passed, yet Lu Mingshu had not realized it at all. She knew neither hunger nor thirst, placing all her attention on this wooden cube.
Her train of thought slowly became distinct.
In the neighbouring stone house, Liu Jizhen suddenly awoke with a start in the middle of the night.
Although his meridians were broken and he was nothing but a cripple, his early years of diligent training had left him with his expert intuition.
He did not know where his intuition came from. Lost in thought, Liu Jizhen left the bed and draped another layer of clothing on.
Pushing open the stone house's door, he discovered the unusual brightness in the cave today. The moonlight of the full moon that passed through a gap on the cave ceiling reflected on every inch of the whole room with a dazzle.
This was the kind of scene Liu Jizhen could get accustomed to.
This Heavenly Ascension Pavilion was no ordinary place, built by the Nine Jade Palace's founder in the early years. That founder had been a top genius figure, one of the five Grandmasters of his time, and had been world famous.
Unbeknownst to all as to what provocation this Founder Song had suffered from, he ignored everything in his later years and gathered the sect's strength to tunnel out this remote peak and build Heavenly Ascension Pavilion in order to gather all of the book collections beneath the Heavens. Afterwards, he directly died in a seated position here, never leaving this place.
Even stranger was that he had left behind a command. To not move his corpse or bury it, and only to shut off the place where he had sought enlightenment every day and consider it his tomb.
For this reason, the previous generations of the sect viewed the Heavenly Ascension Pavilion as a sacred place in the sect. The position of courtyard leader for this area was held by the sect leader. There was no one who did not want to enter the Heavenly Ascension Pavilion and check out the founder's place of enlightenment.
In their opinion, as a generation of Grandmaster which was the highest achievement of the Nine Jade Palace, there must definitely be a reason why Founder Song did so.
1Unfortunately, they couldn't find any secret, generation after generation. This Heavenly Ascension Pavilion thus ultimately became nothing but a book collection pavilion. Although the book collection was abundant with many valuable rare books, what use were these for martial practitioners like them? There were only a few useful secret manuals, which they had already taken out, and what was left was either some fragments of a book or scraps that were identified to be useless.
Over time, the sect abandoned Heavenly Ascension Pavilion, with not even a courtyard leader assigned to it. Instead, they sent someone to watch over it. After all, this land was the ancestral founder's place of slumber – there must at least be someone to guard the tomb, right?
Before his Meridians were severed and because Liu Jizhen did not want to succeed the position of the sect leader, the elders in the sect were intending to make him the Courtyard Leader of Quintessence Courtyard. Quintessence Courtyard is like a court, governing over rewards and punishment; though unstressed and idle, it was a first-class, important position in the sect. After his Meridians were crippled, it was impossible for him to take on this position, but it was not nice for their reputation if he didn't have a position. Hence, someone had an inspiration, coming up with the Heavenly Ascension Pavilion that was submerged in dust as a solution.
Liu Jizhen was a very serious person, and especially the fact that his Meridians had been severed made his temper turn even more eccentric. Since he was assigned to be the Courtyard Leader of Heavenly Ascension Pavilion, he had been placed in charge of keeping watch over the Heavenly Ascension Pavilion – although there was nothing to keep watch over.
With his self-banishment, the enemy faction couldn't be more delighted; people on the same side as him stopped trying to persuade him after a few times when they saw how stubborn he was. Everyone was busy, so it was not bad for them to have looked after him based on past relations, but a crippled Liu Jizhen truly did not need them to spend any more time on him.
Liu Jizhen pushed open the neighbouring door, discovering that his in-name young disciple was not indoors.
He furrowed his brows.
It was in the middle of the night, and he had already shut the cave's stone door, so it was impossible for her to leave.
He searched once in the two rows of stone houses on both sides. But he did not catch a glimpse of her figure.
Liu Jizhen furrowed his brows tightly but could only cast his gaze towards the depths of the cave.
Heavenly Ascension Pavilion was constructed enormously, similar to an underground palace. Liu Jizhen lifted his fire torch up, following the main path to begin his search.
After half an hour, he stood before the tomb, and his face fell immediately.
The tomb door had been opened!
This tomb door had remained shut ever since the sect founder had passed away, and even the door itself had been shut by the founder himself.
1He took a deep breath and stepped into the tomb.
Then, he saw Lu Mingshu collapsed by the stone platform where the founder's skeleton sat eternally in the empty tomb room.