Chapter 13: Heavenly wheel
After speaking about Liu Jizhen with his disciple the day before, Yu Wen Shi's mind trailed back to Liu Jizhen once again.
If one were to push forward time by ten years, how impressive would Liu Jizhen have become? By default, he was the Eldest Senior Brother when he entered the sect and was the direct descendant of a Grandmaster lineage. As a martial practitioner, he had become the top expert of the fifteenth generation, always leading by a far margin.
Nine Jade Palace was not at all a harmonious sect; there had always been internal strife in every generation, but this did not include the fifteenth generation. This time, Liu Jizhen became the figure that they all admired in the fifteenth generation – someone they had neither the right nor ability to challenge.
Yet who would have thought, the former Liu Jizhen that no one could hope to match up, to wound up having his Meridians severed and end up being banished to Green Jade Valley?
Yu Wen Shi felt a myriad of emotions as he thought of Liu Jizhen's former glory.
Yu Wen Shi could not help but reach out and rub his eyes. Following his tenth birthday, he had never behaved so naively in front of others.
He observed a man walk over, entering his bamboo-fenced small courtyard from the outside. That man wore plain cotton-clothing and had unkempt hair and a beard, a modest appearance that was offset only by his tall and muscular stature.
He stopped outside the fenced-off courtyard door and gave it a few knocks.
Yu Wen Shi realized what was going on and stood up in surprise. "Senior Brother Liu?!"
The visitor was indeed Liu Jizhen.
His calm gaze looked towards Yu Wen Shi as he nodded. "Junior Brother Yu Wen."
Yu Wen Shi hastily opened the door. "Why have you come? Did anything happen?"
He was not to blame for having such a thought, for he knew very well of Liu Jizhen's stubbornness as they grew up together. There was no doubt that he did not have the intention to leave after he entered Green Jade Valley. It was totally unexpected that Yu Wen Shi could still see him outside the Valley.
"There's a matter I would like to ask for your help on."
"What is it?"
"That disciple of mine, she has fallen ill."
Yu Wen Shi's jaws fell open, as he stared at Liu Jizhen in disbelief.
Lu Mingshu forgot where she was.
She did not know how much time had passed since she began trying to solve the cube, but her mind was completely immersed.
Slowly, she found a solution. 81 cubes may be a lot, but she could start from the corner then unify…
The rows of colours on the wood cube gradually acquired a regular pattern, the colours slowly unifying.
Lu Mingshu had yet to discover the abnormalities occurring in her body.
Back when she first started to fiddle with the wood cube, a light streamer had flown up to twine around her. Every time she twisted a row, those streamers would light up.
When the colours on the cube were cluttered, these streamers would flutter in a mess before finally dissipating. When the cube colours became more orderly, the streamers would also slowly exhibit a regular pattern in their motions, permeating into her body bit by bit.
The streamers grew brighter and brighter, congregating into rainbow rays, forming a river…
The final cube returned to its rightful position. Six flat surfaces and six different colours were separated neatly.
On the wood cube, the congregated six colours discharged six streams of air that soared to the sky.
Red, yellow, blue, green, black, and white. The six-coloured streams of air merged into an enormous air pillar.
Lu Mingshu only felt as if she was hit by a huge force before a scene of brilliant colours flew past her line of sight.
First, it was a boy practising martial arts and his sword, and then the image flashed, changing into a depiction of a teenager and then a youth… who startled the world with his swordsmanship after he reached middle age. He began travelling everywhere, before finally stopping at a land of magnificent mountains and rivers.
There were nine mountain peaks that extended into the distance, with steep terrain and firm topography. Rising steeply from the ground, the nine high peaks were as if pillars that supported the heavens.
To the east of Nine, Peaks were plains of fertile earth, and the west of Nine Peaks was instead filled with vicious beasts wreaking havoc. He had heard of the legend of Nine Peaks from the mountain natives. One thousand years ago, when this place was still desolate, vicious beasts roved the area and tormented the locals. Afterwards, it was with a goddess's mercy that the beasts were driven away with the Nine Mountains created as an obstruction, that this place finally had peace and happiness. Therefore, these nine mountains came to be known as the Goddess Mountains.
Curious about the legend, he travelled into the depth of Nine Peaks and met the Goddess's remnants somewhere, receiving an object.
Since then, he had not left this place. He stayed on the mountain and founded a sect, taking under his wing disciples upon whom he could impart his skills. In this manner, he passed on the skills he'd accumulated over the years.
In his later years, he opened a building at the place of the remnant of the Goddess and gathered the book collections beneath the Heavens before going into seclusion to achieve enlightenment.
However, he had not uncovered the secret of the Goddess's remnant even until the day he died. Despite searching the books thoroughly, all he comprehended were the two words "Heavenly Wheel"...
Suddenly, Lu Mingshu awoke from her half-dreamlike state.
As the streamers slowly dispersed, she found herself standing in a strange space. Surrounded by fluttering six-coloured streamers. Space seemed infinite yet infinitesimal at the same time.
What is this place? Why am I here?
Lu Mingshu wanted to take a step forward to find out that she do not have a material body. When she looked down, all she saw was a fuzzy shadow.
The more Lu Mingshu thought, the more frightened she was.
She remembered now. She had awoken unknowingly in the middle of the night. It had been bright outside and she had walked towards the depths of the cave as if she had been bewitched. When she finally reached the mountain mid, she had seen a skeleton in a cross-legged position. Then, she had picked up the strange wood cube in the skeleton's hands…
There were no answers to these questions, as there was not a sound or a living thing in this strange space. There was only her alone.
The fluttering six-coloured streamers in the sky gradually formed a circle that resembled an enormous wheel, rolling forward incessantly.
The two words "Heavenly Wheel" suddenly came to mind.
Lu Mingshu stared at it blankly for a long while, before slowly recovering her attention.
Thereafter, she felt as if she wasn't the same. She suddenly understood some things she couldn't understand previously; and suddenly, she wasn't afraid of the things she was afraid of previously.
For example, she had only thought of Yu Wen Shi as a kind Uncle before. Thinking of it now, she could discern some kind of conflict between him and Fu Shangqing. In another example, she had only felt surprised and not fear despite remaining clueless as to why she would run into the depths of the cave in the middle of the night.
In other words, it was as if she had suddenly grown up—
She vaguely guessed that something fascinating had happened to her.
Time here passed very slowly. A day dragged past as if a year, with nothing but boredom on her hands.
Lu Mingshu couldn't find anything to do. She could not even properly execute the basic action of opening the mouth to speak, nor move forward. It was as if she had turned into a statue, quietly standing there. If not for her active thoughts, she would be no different from a corpse.
Under such a plight, she could only ponder.
Her thoughts concluded this place to be the inside of the Heavenly Wheel.
The founder wanted to find the secret of the Heavenly Wheel even if he had to sacrifice his whole life, but apart from the name he had not found anything else.
Could it actually be because the founder could not return the various colour of the Heavenly Wheel back to their respective places?
Lu Mingshu suddenly didn't know whether to laugh or to cry.
She had always been extremely sensitive to mathematics since young. In beginner's calculations, those chicken and rabbits in cages* questions posed no difficulties to her. When Liu Jizhen tested her, she nearly arrived at an answer immediately.
In retrospect, the train of thought in unifying the Heavenly Wheel was considerably similar to calculations.