Chapter 38 – Demon walking in the light
From the layers of dark clouds in the sky, the spring rain fell.
The raindrops were thin like hair. As they fell, they enveloped Qing Mao Mountain in a layer of fine mist.
The dining hall on the first floor of the inn was rather empty. There were only four tables of guests.
Fang Yuan sat at a seat by the window. A gust of wind blew, bringing with it a poetic atmosphere and the scent of flowers.
“The light rain from the sky is sleek and crisp, the color of grass is seen from afar but disappears when close.” Fang Yuan looked outside through a window and quoted a poem lightly before he turned his sights back to the inn.
Before him was a table filled with good wine and dishes. The color, smell and taste were all top notch. Especially the green bamboo wine which oozed with the fragrance of alcohol along with a hint of freshness. The dark green colored liquor sat quietly in the bamboo cup. From his angle, it shone with an amber-like luster.
A grandfather and his grandson were sitting at the table nearest to him. Being mortal humans, they wore modest clothes.
The grandfather sipped his rice wine while looking enviously at Fang Yuan. He was evidently attracted to the green bamboo wine but could not afford it.
The grandson ate his braised beans, a crunching sound emitting from his mouth as he chewed. At the same time, he pestered his grandfather, shaking his arm. “Grandpa, grandpa, tell me about the story of Ren Zu. If you don’t tell me, I’ll report to grandma that you secretly came out to drink!”
“Sigh, I can’t even drink in peace.” The grandfather sighed but his face showed a doting expression towards the child. With his twig-like arm, he patted the boy’s head, “Then let me tell you the story of Ren Zu who gave his heart to the Hope Gu, escaping his predicament of being captured…”
Ren Zu’s story was the most popular and widespread tale in this world, as well as the most ancient legend.
The old man’s story was something like this.
The story mentioned that Ren Zu was able to escape his predicament because of hope. But eventually he grew old and without Strength and Wisdom, he could no longer continue to hunt. Even his teeth fell off, making him unable to chew many wild fruits and vegetables.
Ren Zu felt death slowly approaching.
At this time, the Hope Gu said to him, “Human, you must not die. If you die, your heart will be lost and I will lose my only place of residence.”
Ren Zu was helpless. “Who wishes to die? But if the heavens and earth want me dead, I have no choice.”
The Hope Gu said, “There’s always hope in everything. As long as you can catch a Longevity Gu, you will be able to increase your lifespan.”
Ren Zu had heard of the existence of the Longevity Gu long ago but he waved his hand helplessly. “When the Longevity Gu stays still, nobody can detect it and when it flies, it is faster than light. How can I possibly catch it? It’s too hard!”
The Hope Gu then told Ren Zu a secret, “Human, don’t give up hope no matter what. Let me tell you, on the northwest corner of this continent, there is a huge mountain. On the mountain, there is a cave and in that cave, there is a pair of round and square Gu worms. As long as you can subdue them, there is no Gu in this world that you cannot catch, including the Longevity Gu!”
Ren Zu had no choice, this was his last remaining hope.
He braved all difficulties and finally found the mountain. He then risked his life and ventured through countless dangers to ascend the mountain. On the mountain top, near the cave entrance, he used his last remaining strength to slowly make his way in.
The inside of the cave was completely dark and one would not be able to even see their own fingers. Ren Zu walked in the darkness. Sometimes, he would bump into things not knowing what they were. This caused himself to get injured and wounded all over. At times, he felt that this dark cave was huge beyond words as if this was a world of its own. He felt as if he was the only person in the area.
He spent a lot of time but he could not walk out of the darkness. Not to mention subduing the two Gu worms.
Just when he was at a loss about what to do, two voices spoke to him from the darkness.
One voice said, “Human, you’re here to catch us? Go back, for even if you had the Strength Gu, it would be impossible.”
The other said, “Human, go back, we will not take your life. Even if you had the Wisdom Gu to help you, you may not be able to find us.
Ren Zu laid exhausted on the ground, panting. “The Strength and Wisdom Gu had left me long ago and I do not have much lifespan left so I’m at my wits end. But as long as there’s hope in my heart, I will not give up!”
Hearing Ren Zu’s words, the two voices went silent.
After a while, one of the Gu said, “I understand, human, you have already given your heart to the Hope Gu. You will not give up no matter what.”
The other continued, “In that case, we shall give you a chance. As long as you can say our name, we will allow you to use us.”
Ren Zu was stunned. To find their names among all the words in the world, it was akin to finding a needle in a haystack.
Furthermore, he did not even know how many words were in their names.
Ren Zu quickly asked the Hope Gu, but it did not know either.
Ren Zu had no alternatives and had no choice but to randomly guess their names. He said many many names and wasted a lot of time but the darkness did not respond to him so evidently he was wrong.
Eventually, Ren Zu’s breath got weaker as he turned from an old man into a dying man. It was like the scene of the evening’s setting sun. The sun that would slowly descending had already been lowered halfway across the horizon, becoming a sunset.
The food he had brought was gradually reduced, his brain becoming slower and he barely had any energy to speak anymore.
The voice in the darkness urged, “Human, you are almost dead, so we will let you go. Using your remaining time, you can climb out of the cave and take a final look at the world. But you have offended us, and as punishment, the Hope Gu shall stay here as our companion.”
Ren Zu clenched his heart and rejected, “Even if I die, I will not give up hope!”
The Hope Gu was very touched and answered Ren Zu’s call enthusiastically, emitting a bright light. At Ren Zu’s chest area, a light began to shine. But this light was too weak, it could not illuminate the darkness. In fact, it could not even cover Ren Zu’s entire body, but only engulfed his chest area.
Yet Ren Zu could feel a renewed surge of energy gushing into his body from the Hope Gu.
He continued to speak, shouting out names. But he was already muddled. A lot of names had already been said but he could not remember that and repeated them, wasting a lot of effort in the process.
As time continued to flow, Ren Zu’s lifespan was almost over.
Finally, when he was on his final day, he said out the word ‘Regulation’.
A sigh came from the darkness as a voice spoke, “Human, I admire your perseverance. You have said my name, so from today onwards, I will obey your commands. But only with my brother can I aid you in capturing all the Gu in the world. Otherwise, with my ability alone, it is impossible. Thus, you should give up. You’re almost dead, you might as well use this chance to take a final look at the world.”
Ren Zu was determined and shook his head, he made use of all his time to continue saying out names as he tried to guess the other Gu worm’s name.
Seconds and minutes went by and soon he only had one hour left.
But at this time, he unknowingly said the word ‘Rule’.
Immediately, the darkness dissipated.
The two Gus appeared before him. As the Hope Gu had said, one was cubic, called ‘Regulations’. The other was spherical, called ‘Rules’. Together, they made up ‘Rules and Regulations’.
The two Gu said together, “No matter who it is, as long as they know our names, we will listen to them. Human, since you know our names already, we will be at your service. But you must remember, it is important to not let others know of our names. The more people that know our names, the more people we have to obey them. Now that you are the first to subdue us, tell us your request.”
Ren Zu was overjoyed. “Then I order you both, go and catch me a Longevity Gu.”
The Rules and Regulations Gu worked together and captured an eighty-year Longevity Gu.
Ren Zu was already a hundred years old but after consuming this Gu, the wrinkles on his face vanished and his frail limbs became muscular again. A vibrant aura of youth oozed from him.
With a belly flop, he jumped up onto his feet.
He ecstatically looked at his body, knowing that he had regained the body of a twenty year old!
“That’s all for today, let’s go home, grandson.” The old man, having completed the story, finished his wine as well.
“Grandpa, continue telling me, what happens to Ren Zu after?” The grandson was unyielding as he shook his grandfather’s arm.
“Let’s go, I’ll tell you when there’s another chance.” The old man wore his straw hat and jacket, then gave his grandson another set that was a smaller size.
The two walked out of the inn, stepping into the rain and slowly vanishing from sight.
“Rules and Regulations…” Fang Yuan’s gaze was dark as he twirled his wine cup, looking at the liquor in his cup. His heart was touched.
Ren Zu’s legend was widespread throughout this world and there were almost no people who did not know of him. Fang Yuan had naturally heard of him too.
But no matter if it was a legend or a story, it was dependant on the knowledge of the reader. The grandfather and grandson earlier merely treated it as a story, but Fang Yuan could understand the deeper meaning.
Just like that Ren Zu.
When he did not know the rules and regulations, he explored in the dark. Sometimes he bumped into things, knocking into others, causing himself to get injured and look like a mess. And at times within a wider area, he got lost and confused, moving without a sense of direction or purpose.
This darkness was not purely black or the absence of light. Strength, wisdom and hope could not oppose it.
Only when Ren Zu knew of the rules and regulations and said their names did the darkness dissipate and invite light into Ren Zu’s life.
The darkness was the darkness of the rules and regulations and the light was also the light of the rules and regulations.
Fang Yuan switched his gaze from his cup and looked outside through the window.
He saw that outside the window, the sky was still dark, the greenery abundant and the pelting rain flying by like mist. Close by, the bamboo tall-houses were lined up in a row, extending far out. On the road, several people walked, their feet stained with the mud from the rain. Some of them wore grayish green straw coats, while others carried yellow oiled cloth umbrellas.
Fang Yuan concluded, “This world’s heaven and earth is like a huge chess board. All lifeforms are chess pieces, acting in accordance with their rules and regulations. The four seasons have their own rules and regulations, rotating between spring, summer, autumn, and winter. The flow of water has its own rules and regulations, flowing from high ground to low ground. Hot air has its own rules and regulations, floating upwards. Humans naturally also have their own rules and regulations.”
“Everybody has their own standpoints, desires, and principles. For example, in the Gu Yu village, the servants lives are cheap while their master’s lives are noble. This is a part of rules and regulations. Because of this, Shen Cui who wants to get close to the rich and affluent is doing her best to try and escape her servant status. Gao Wan tried all means and methods to please his master, using their authorities for himself.”
“As for Uncle and Aunt, they gave in to greed, wanting to hoard my parent’s inheritance. The Academy Elder wants to nurture Gu masters to maintain his position in the Academy.”
“Everyone has their own rules and regulations, every profession has its own rules and regulations, and every society and group also have their own rules and regulations. Only by understanding the rules and regulations can we see the situation clearly from the side. Gone with the darkness and embrace the light, moving around the rules with much to spare.”
Fang Yuan thought about his own situation, his heart already clear. “To the Mo family’s head Gu Yue Mo Chen, it is to protect his family branch’s prosperity and benefits. Mo Yan found trouble with me and that would be considered spoiling the rules, so for the sake of his family honor, he will not do anything to me. In fact, he might even compensate me.”
“Actually the Mo family has great influence, so if they risk their reputation and are bent on punishing me, there is nothing I can do to resist them. However, Gu Yue Mo Chen is afraid. He is not afraid of himself breaking the rules, but he is afraid that others will follow in his footsteps. In a junior’s scuffle, if the elders interfere, it would aggravate the situation. If it involved the higher ups, it’d pose a threat to the entire mountain village. Gu Yue Mo Chen’s fear lied here. What if in future conflicts, others laid their hands on his grandson Gu Yue Mo Bei? In his entire family line there’s only one male, so what would happen if he died? This kind of fear, maybe he doesn’t realize it himself. He is only subconsciously protecting the rules.”
Fang Yuan’s eyes were clear as he had the perfect grasp and understanding of the matter from start till the end.
Gao Wan’s surname was not Gu Yue. Instead, he was an outsider, a servant.
The master executing a servant was nothing to be alarmed about. In this world, it was normal.
In the case of Fang Yuan killing Gao Wan, Gao Wan’s death was not crucial. The crucial part was his master, the Mo family behind him.
“However Gu Yue Mo Chen should be able to understand my intention of compromise and threat from the time I sent a box of a minced corpse to them. This is also what I want him to think. If I’m not wrong, the Mo family will not pursue Gao Wan’s death. Of course, if I had better talent and was at least a B grade, the Mo family would feel threatened. Even with the loss of their reputation, they would want to suppress a future threat such as myself,” Fang Yuan snickered in his heart.
Strength can be relied on but weakness can also be used as an advantage.
Although Fang Yuan was in the game of chess as a pawn, he was clear of the rules and regulations, thus he already had the mentality of a player.
An ordinary character would at most be like Gu Yue Mo Chen or the Academy Elder, also knowing their own rules and regulations but unsure of their non-expertise. Being like Fang Yuan, who had a clear view of the big picture and was clear of rules and regulations was extremely difficult!
To understand rules and regulations, one has to be like Ren Zu, stumbling around in the dark and wandering about aimlessly.
At this point, strength, wisdom, and hope would be useless. One must spend a lot of time going through it themselves and gaining the experience.
For Ren Zu to be able to say out the names of the Rules and Regulations Gu, this was after spending time. Under the threat of death, he had tried countless of times.
Fang Yuan was an expert in rules and regulations due to his five hundred years of experience in from past life.
After his rebirth, he believed that he could create a brilliant future. Not because of the Spring and Autumn Cicada, not because he knew many secret troves and treasures, not because he knew what the future held.
But because of the five hundred years of experience that he had gained as a person.
Just like how Ren Zu controlled the Rules and Regulations Gu and was able to easily capture all the Gu in the world!
And Fang Yuan was so familiar with rules and regulations, thus he was able to look down upon the world and see through its truths and lies. Being meticulous and precise, or getting right to the heart of the matter. I proudly laugh as I stand on top of the world, coldly looking at the people in the world who behaved like pawns, obeying their respective rules and regulations, living their lives in a straightforward manner.
The rules and regulations of the darkness is darkness, and the rules and regulations of the light is light.
But the reborn demon had stepped foot under the path of light.