Chapter 43 – Sharing Sutras and Transmitting the Dao, the Secrets of Ghost Cultivators
After the time it took to brew a pot of tea.
Su Yi’s ethereal figure stopped in place.
He stood at the center of the courtyard and sheathed his sword.
With one last hum of his sword, the rippling darkness and moonlight regained their former tranquility.
“Delightful!” Su Yi’s eyes lit up, and he felt intoxicatingly, joyously uninhibited.
Why did he call it the Rejoicing Sword?
His body was like colored glass, his heart like the sun and moon, radiant yet tranquil.
He rejoiced, both body and mind.
This was one of the reasons Su Yi was so devoted to the Dao of the Sword.
After washing up, Su Yi returned to his room, picked up the ginseng tea he’d brewed in advance, and drained his cup.
The liquid instantly washed away his exhaustion.
My progress in the Refining Sinew stage is noticeably slower than in the Refining Muscle stage, thought Su Yi as he silently took in his body’s subtle changes. But now that I’ve taken up residence in the Apricot Clinic, I have no shortage of herbal medicines.
So long as I maintain this rate of improvement, I’ll reach full completion of the Refining Sinew stage within a month…..
But no matter what, I have to assemble a supply of spiritual medicines before I start Refining Bone.
I have no hope of tempering my skeleton to the ‘marrow like frost’ level by relying solely on ordinary medicinal herbs.
Su Yi couldn’t help but sigh.
He’d originally planned to take a stroll through the Azurecloud Mountains.
The mountains continued for hundreds of miles, vast and sweeping.
They undoubtedly included places with concentrated spiritual energy.
Spiritual medicines had always arisen in such places!
But lately, he’d been busy with his cultivation, and quite a few things had happened, all of which delayed his plans to scour the mountains for medicine.
“Mystic Master, I’ve decided.” Suddenly, Qing Wan’s timid voice emerged from within the gourd.
Su Yi was stunned.
“There’s no one else here at night.
You’re welcome to roam as you please; there’s no need to stay in the gourd all the time.”
“Uh… Oh!” Before long, Qing Wan floated up in her red dress, her pretty little face sheepish.
She whispered, “Mystic Master, without your orders, I dared not leave without permission.”
You don’t have to be so reserved.
It’s not like I’m some villain; why are you so on edge?” Su Yi shook his head.
He could tell that whenever she saw him, she froze like a startled rabbit, so scared she dared not breathe too loudly.
She spoke timidly too.
When their gazes met, her eyes were filled with terror and awe.
She made it seem like he bullied her on a regular basis….
Despite his words, she still seemed cautious.
Su Yi couldn’t be bothered to pursue the matter, so he said, “What did you decide?”
Qing Wan squeezed her fists, as if trying to build up courage, but in the end, she still dared not meet Su Yi’s gaze.
“Mystic Master, I have no memories of before I died.
I don’t want to leave this world without them, so….
Su Yi finished her sentence for her.
“So, you’ve chosen to cultivate and see if you can recover your lost memories?”
Qing Wan hurriedly nodded.
“Relax,” murmured Su Yi.
“Even if you can’t recover them on your own, I’ll help you.”
From the moment he first laid eyes on Qing Wan, he discovered that although she was only the lowest class of ghost, a mere yin soul, her soul body was unusually pure.
Add that to the fact that she’d forgotten her life, and Su Yi realized that there was something unusual about her, which piqued his interest.
“Thank you, Mystic Master.” Qing Wan’s bright eyes shone with gratitude.
Her eyes really were beautiful; big, with depths you could get lost in.
The corners of her eyes were slightly slanted; she had a pair of bright “phoenix eyes.”
When eyes like that smiled, they were shockingly enticing, with an innate charm.
Alas, she still looked like a young woman in her teens.
She was beautiful and pure, but lacking mature charm.
Nevertheless, it was undeniable that she would blossom into the type of monstrous beauty that could topple a nation.
She still had lots of room to grow.
“First, I’m going to teach you the introductory incantation for the ‘Ten Directions Asura Sutra’.
This should be enough to temper your soul body and transform you, step by step, from a yin soul into a phantasm.”
As he said this, he sat before his desk, took out paper and a brush, and began splashing ink across the page.
Upon becoming a phantasm, a ghost’s soul body was so concentrated, they no longer needed to fear the sunlight.
They could walk through the mortal world in much the same way as everyone else.
This was the only way to step properly onto the path of the ghost cultivator.
Furthermore, ghost cultivators were different from ordinary cultivators; their soul power was the source of their corporeal bodies.
They had no need to temper their flesh, blood, or qi like ordinary martial artists.
Thus, upon becoming a phantasm, they could step directly into the Origin Dao.
But evolving from a yin soul into a phantasm wasn’t easy.
First, she’d need to become a haunt, then a specter.
Only then could she become a phantasm.
Before long, Su Yi set down his brush and pointed to the freshly-written cultivation technique.
“Take a look.”
Qing Wan carefully drifted over, not daring to get too close to Su Yi.
She lowered her head and focused on the text.
A moment later, she exhaled and said, “Mystic Master, I’ve memorized it.”
“That quickly?” Su Yi ws surprised.
She looked at him, her gaze clear and innocent, but she sounded a bit lost.
“I don’t know why, but I committed everything to memory at a glance.
One read-through, and I remember every word without any deviations.”
Su Yi arched his brow.
“Your powers of comprehension are surprisingly good.
In that case, I’ll go ahead and explain its profound mysteries.
Given your memory, remembering them shouldn’t be difficult.”
He then began by explaining the technique’s name.
“‘The Ten Directions Asura Sutra’ is the highest Daoist classic the Ghost Emperor of the Western Seas ever wrote, as well as the number one secret scripture in the eyes of the world’s ghost cultivators.”
After obtaining this sutra in his past life, Su Yi once read through and scrutinized it.
In the end, he reached a conclusion—
The path of a ghost cultivator was completely different from ordinary soul cultivators.
No matter how weak a soul cultivator’s fleshly body might be, they were still living, breathing, human beings.
They used their blood, qi, and cultivation to nourish and temper their souls.
Ghost cultivators, conversely, walked the ‘path of the dead.’ As they underwent metamorphosis, their path led them to the Netherworld!
Take the Ghost Emperor of the Western Seas.
He regularly claimed himself the “envoy of the Netherworld.”
Su Yi was no stranger to the Dao of the Netherworld either.
His ability to reincarnate and cultivate anew involved mysterious concepts like “Samsara” and “rebirth”; both were part of the Netherworld Dao.
It was no exaggeration to say that should Qing Wan cultivate alongside him, even if her success was underwhelming, she’d at least wind up on par with the Ghost Emperor of the Western Seas…
Before long, Su Yi explained the cultivation technique’s intricacies in detail.
“Do you have any other questions?”
Qing Wan shut her eyes and thought for a moment, then shook her head.
“Mystic Master, it seems this cultivation method….
Isn’t really that hard to understand….”
Su Yi took a deep look at her.
“From now on, you’ll cultivate this sutra.
Stay in the Soul-Nourishing Gourd during the day.
At night, you can wander freely within the courtyard, but you are not to take so much as a single step beyond its walls without my orders.”
“Yes.” Qing Wan meekly acknowledged his command.
Facing Su Yi, it was as if she didn’t know what “refusal” and “resistance” were…
Su Yi turned away and paid her no further heed.
He lay down, and before long, he was fast asleep.
Late at night, everything was still.
Qing Wan waited for a long time, as if building up courage.
Finally, she lifted the hems of her dress and carefully floated outside of the room and sat atop the old locust tree.
The red cloth of her dress swayed in the wind.
Her feet were unshod, revealing her fair skin and toes that looked like they’d been carved out of white jade.
She kicked her legs in the air as she enjoyed the night breeze.
Finally, she relaxed completely.
Qing Wan looked up through the branches and peered into the starry, moonlit sky, her big eyes shining with delight.
Her pink lips parted, and she hummed a melodious, ethereal tune.
“A king of old toured the Western Sea and encountered the secluded Elder of Draconic Awe.
He went north, entered the spirit caves of the immortal mountain, and pilfered the spiritual talismans of Yu the Great.
But the ultimate texts of heaven and earth cannot be revealed lightly.
Unless fortune aligns, you cannot force it.
Those who try will lose their homeland…”
As she hummed the last portion, she froze.
An ineffable grief and sadness coursed through her.
I never learned this tune….
So why can I hum it? Could it be related to my missing memories?” The young woman in the red dress looked silently up at the night sky, a lost look in her eyes.
Although she didn’t realize it, Su Yi stood by his window, his hands behind his back, watching the petite figure in red atop the locust tree.
A strange light flashed through his eyes.
“The Western Seas, the Elder of Draconic Awe, spirit caves, and the pilfered talismans of Yu the Great? …..What an interesting song.”
The song Qing Wan sings here is based on the nursery rhyme “Song of the Western Seas.” It's old enough that no children actually sing it anymore, and it’s not particularly well known, but it’s a real ancient song.
Qing Wan’s version is very similar to the original, but not the same.
Here’s a side-by-side comparison, with the differences in bold.
First, in Chinese, so you can see just how similar they are:
Now, a literal English translation:
Original: King Helu of Wu toured the vast, rolling lake and encountered the secluded Elder of Draconic Awe.
He went north, entered the spirit caves of Mount Bao, and pilfered the spiritual talismans of Yu the Great.
But the ultimate texts of heaven and earth cannot be revealed lightly. These texts are to passed down, generation to generation, until the world is under orderly rule.
He who takes them out now will lose his homeland.
Novel: A king of old toured the Western Sea and encountered the secluded Elder of Draconic Awe.
He went north, entered the spirit caves of the immortal mountain, and pilfered the spiritual talismans of Yu the Great.
But the ultimate texts of heaven and earth cannot be revealed lightly. Unless fortune aligns, you cannot force it.
Those who try will lose their homeland.
The main differences are:
a) who did the touring.
b) Who has the talismans now.
c) when it will be acceptable to reveal them.
d) The specific locations in which all this happened.
Disclaimer: This is from straight-up classical Chinese, which means a higher than usual chance of translation errors on my end, and that I’m guessing at pronouns and plurals, among other details.
(Classical Chinese often just… leaves those out.
It’s not my fault, I swear! That's just how the language is!)
Also, I didn’t even try to preserve this, but the original does in fact rhyme.
The novel’s version doesn’t; the author modified it without regard for the original meter or rhyme scheme.
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