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Ning Que rubbed his head under the stairs, recalling the regulation that old library's instructor previously told him, and it seemed that students were not forbidden from going up to the Second floor. While in hesitation, someone passed by him and went directly upstairs, the clop-clop of footsteps making him relaxed. He, therefore, dropped the Wang Xinglong's Copybook of Regular Script into the book basket beside the column and went upstairs, holding up the front part of his robe.
The Second floor of the old library was quieter than the first floor, yet with fewer bookracks and books, which relatively looked more spacious. He hadn't expected that there were already a great many students upstairs. Among them, some were respectively selecting books to read beside the bookracks, some wearing smirks and still others mumbling to themselves, all of whom apparently felt excited.
Books about Confucian Classics and History were mostly stored on the first floor, and those describing martial art and cultivation were mainly found on the second floor. Before entering the library, that instructor had warned that books on the second floor were not recommended for reading. However, Ning Que still felt that it was all rather surreal when a big treasure of books suddenly appeared before him without any sign or indication. He stood blankly between the bookracks and only after a long time of silence did he manage to dispell the shock.
Li Zhitang's Comment on Buddhism, Mutual Verifications of Psyche Power and Emblematic Gesture, A Brief Introduction on Five Cultivation States, Memories of West-Hill, Dongxuan Scriptures, Collections of Nanhua, A Review of Swordsmanship schools in the South Jin Kingdom, Diverse Laws Appreciation Dictionary...
He walked along the bookracks, his eyes resting on the dense book spines, and then his previous shock and zest changed into blankness. His hands which were hidden in sleeves could not help quivering. He could guess the contents of those books from their titles alone.
That year, he followed the City of Wei's grain transportation team to the Kaiping County bazaar with the silver he had saved for a while. While looking for doctors to treat Sangsang, he also searched in all the bazaar's book booths, and eventually found a book named Article on the Response of the Tao, which later he had read for many years until it was burnt into ashes in a copper basin.
That year, he killed seventeen Horse Gangs beside the Shubi Lake and saved an army coming to exterminate those thieves. The general had asked him, "What do you want? We all in the City of Wei can pool money to send you a popular geisha girl as a gift." Holding the Article on the Response of the Tao that had been read from front to back and back to front again multiple times, Ning Que answered, "I want to learn cultivation." The general was left speechless by his reply.
The cultivator he met beside Min Mountain denied him, the commander in charge of the Military Ministry assessment shook his head towards him, the elder Lyu Qingchen made a long sigh, and yesterday the instructor teaching the Academy's magic skills course patted his shoulder, all of whom showed that he couldn't enter the world just revealed before his eyes. He told Sangsang it didn't matter because he could also earn a world with knives and arrows. It did, however, matter. He would not allow that world to merely appear shadowily before him without even knowing what was hidden inside.
When he entered the old library of the Academy, went upstairs, and saw those thickly-dotted books, he came to realize that it was hard to change his physical condition through these books, but he could at least take a glance at that world. During the past sixteen years, he struggled with the Article on the Response of the Tao, as if he were a poor kid holding his last potato, while today, he finally perceived an ocean of rice fields. Although those rice fields still could not be controlled, he still felt moved, his eyes warmed and moistened.
He stretched out his trembling fingers to stroke the book spines and read silently. At this moment, all he wanted was to share his feelings with her. She was perhaps the only one in the world who could understand what he was feeling now.
He had his sights fixed on the bookracks filled with cultivation books. He pressingly wanted to read books such as Memories of West-Hill. He was also not qualified to study materials like A Review of Swordsmanship schools in the South Jin Kingdom. Anyway, he should not bite off more than he could chew. He would start from the basics, from The First Exploration of Snow Mountain and Ocean of Qi.
The moment he drew out the thin book, a muffled sound was suddenly heard from somewhere in the library. Tracing the sound, a student was found to have flopped to the ground with his face as pale as snow. His body seized and white foam spewed forth from his mouth without stopping, making it terrifying.
Four people wearing light-colored robes of the Academy emerged from some unknown place and went to the unconscious student. Some caught his hands and some his feet, and with a tacit understanding they lifted the poor student up as if they had picked up a chicken. After that, they rushed towards the staircase smoothly, as if they had done this many times.
Those beside the bookracks were now looking at each other speechlessly. Thinking of the warnings that Lecturer smilingly gave them before entering the old library, a sense of nervousness somehow struck them. However, nobody was scared off. Instead, more and more students came from downstairs.
They were all young talents from all over the Empire, who bore the same curiosity towards the enigmatic world as Ning Que and strongly believed they could enter that world. Therefore, they kept on taking out books from the bookracks and reading books silently, pretending that nothing had happened.
Then with another loud thud, a second young student with a pale face fainted. Ning Que looked silently at the student who was being swiftly lifted away and started hesitating. However, he still couldn't resist the attractiveness of that new world and thus chose to continue like his other classmates. He then grew firmly determined and opened the thin book in his hand.
The first sentence of The First Exploration of Snow Mountain and Ocean of Qi read, "Heaven and earth also have respiration, which is called breath... "
Following the handwritten words, Ning Que continued his reading nervously and attentively, but suddenly those words turned blur in his eyes as if a piece of unpolished glass were put between his eyes and the booklet. Realizing maybe that was what the lecturer outside the library had warned, he lightly bit the tip of his tongue to force himself sober and read on.
"Human beings are most smart among all creatures, therefore they can understand the law of nature. Their will is powerful, which is called Psyche Power."
Along with the reading, the words in the booklet turned fuzzier which then gradually diffused into spots of ink. He strived to narrow his eyes to see the words more clearly, which yet just resulted in aches between his eyebrows. And as for the blurred words, they would drift away from the paper bit by bit in his eyes.
"The Psyche Power of human beings originates from the brain and joined between the Snow Mountain and the Ocean of Qi. They can be condensed into frost, dew or water, and are capable of passing through all the acupoints freely. They are scattered throughout our bodies to interact with Breath of nature around us... "
In his eyes, the vague spots of ink floated off the yellowish paper one by one and entered his brain, where they were changed into shockwaves as if a long oar was probed into the deep ocean of his brain and constantly blended his brain. Instead of feeling pain, Ning Que found his body moving with the blender, the sights before his eyes turned blur. He then felt choked in the chest and was about to throw up, which were exactly the symptoms of extreme seasickness!
With a stuffy sound, he forced himself to close the booklet and took several raspy breaths, which finally helped him to break away from that dazzling enigmatic world. He then took more breaths and gradually recovered his calmness.
A middle-aged woman wearing a professor's robe was sitting at the clean table beside the window, concentrating on copying regular script without any notice of the students which previously flopped over; as if nothing had happened in her eyes. When she heard the clap of closing books, however, she raised her head with eyebrows slightly frowning, and a hint of something different flashed through her eyes when she caught sight of Ning Que's pale face.
This woman professor had been practicing in the old library for more than two decades, and it was unknown how many freshmen she had witnessed to have gotten lost in such books until they were defeated by the overwhelming mental impact and fainted. It was quite rare, however, to see such a student as Ning Que, who has just begun reading yet managed to close the book with strong willpower.
Ning Que didn't notice that he had drawn attention from the woman professor because what he focused on was the thin booklet in his hand. After adjusting his breath, he felt that everything had returned to a normal state, therefore, he opened that booklet again to read the following content without any hesitation.
His eye landed on the word "interaction", from which he chose to start. The moment his eye set on the word, however, they directly drifted into his mind, stirring turbulent waves which rolled over him like thousands of mountains howling near!
Both his hands and the book disappeared from his sight. The bookracks fell away from his sight melting away with the books. He saw the white rooftop and everything became dark.
A horse carriage parked at the gate of Old Brush Pen Shop at Lin 47th Street. When the curtain rose up, Ning Que stepped feebly off and greeted the carriage driver and the deacon of the Academy with a bow, his hands folding in front. He sincerely said, "Many thanks."
After the horse carriage clopped away, Ning Que took a deep breath, rubbed his pallid face, and entered the shop. Sangsang dropped the duster cloth and stared at him with great curiosity, he then forced a smile and said, "The Academy... is really the best place in this world, but also the worst one."
He had just previously fainted in the old library and didn't come to until the horse carriage was about to enter the Vermilion Bird Gate. He'd, however, forgotten the reason why he'd fainted. What's worse was that he couldn't even recall the content of the book he had read before fainting, which made him scared and depressed. No matter how hard he thought, not even a trace of the content would come back to his mind.
"I have to warn you, the books on the enigma that you're all interested in cannot be memorized but only experienced. As for the theories behind it, of course I shall not explain. As humans, we all have limitations. If you don't have the potential for cultivation, but still attempt to force your way through the books, it will only lead to negative results. "
It wasn't until now that he understood the true meaning of the warnings that academy instructor gave them before entering the old library. He would guess that those books on cultivation were probably written with some art of talisman.
"There are many cultivation books in the old library. I thought you must be there."
Those words reminded Ning Que of the things that had happened years back when he held the frail little girl in his arms and rushed through bookstalls in the bazaar of Linping County. He replied lightly, "But it seems troublesome to understand those books. I felt as if a mountain stood in between me and the books."
"Young master, how about taking a detour?" Sangsang asked and raised her small face frowning concernedly.
Ning Que shook his head and quietly looked at her, asking, "What if we can't bypass a mountain? We have talked about it in the past."
Sangsang put forth her strength to make a nod and answered, "Split the mountain."