The Path of the Sage

Chapter 196: Tree Gentlemen

The Tyrant's voice spread through the conch shell, sending chills down the spines of everyone in the courtyard.

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The Tyrant was finally making his move.

This was the origin of the Tyrant's name. If the other party did not submit, he would use every means necessary.

Meng Li snorted coldly and left with a swagger. The heavily armored Savage Cow soldiers swept their murderous gazes over Fang Yun before leaving one by one.

"I have something to attend to at home, I'm afraid I won't be able to attend today's Mid-Autumn Festival gathering in the City of Confucius. Excuse me." A man who had previously greeted Fang Yun with a smile hurriedly left after a bow.

Another person didn't even say a word, just bowed and turned to leave.

Li Fanming's face was terribly gloomy. He hadn't expected the people he brought to be so spineless, scared away by the mere mention of the Tyrant.

There were seventeen people when they arrived, now only fifteen remained.

A disciple from a prominent family coldly said, "If you're scared to this extent by the Tyrant, then our friendship ends here. I won't recognize you when we meet in the future."

Fang Yun glanced at the man. He was a descendant of the Semi-Saint Zu Chongzhi. The Zu family was known for their expertise in the "number" of the Six Arts, the calendar, and the Book of Changes. Zu Chongzhi was the one who accurately calculated the value of pi, and he was also proficient in music and Go, a man of many talents.

"Bowing to Meng Li is a matter of courtesy, but abandoning friends in times of crisis is not what we, the Zheng family, do." A member of the Zheng Xuan prominent family said.

Several people who were originally hesitant now found themselves unable to move.

Li Fanming's face was filled with anger. "Every family has been planning for this trip to the Holy Land for a long time, but only the Tyrant would resort to such ruthless means! Even if this blood-dripped beast skin involves the secrets of the Holy Land, it's at most a clue. Yet he treats it as his chance to become a saint and the hope for the rise of the Meng family. He's simply mad."

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Someone sighed, "Although I don't like the Tyrant, if you want to become a saint, you need to have the spirit of a madman. Isn't Mo Tzu's doctrine of universal love and non-aggression the craziest in times of war? The disputes among the Legalists like Shang Yang, Han Feizi, and Li Si are equally terrifying. Lv Buwei treated the father of the First Emperor of Qin as a 'rare commodity', hoarded it, and finally 'sold' him to become a ruler, in exchange for the position of Prime Minister of Qin. In the end, he became a Semi-Saint of the miscellaneous school. Is the Tyrant crazier than him?"

"No matter how crazy the Tyrant is, he can't be crazier than the Military Marquis Bai Qi." Someone else said.

"Liu Xuan and Zhuge Wuhou were delusional to unify ninety states with the power of one kingdom and restore the glory of the Han Dynasty. In my eyes, they are also madmen."

"The Tyrant's ferocity is a direct reference to the path of bravery, breaking all obstacles. In the future, he may not be unable to make up for the shortcomings of the Meng Saint. He became an Accomplished Scholar at the age of twelve, passed the Imperial Examination at thirteen, entered the Holy Land at fourteen, became an Imperial Scholar at fifteen, almost became the top scholar of ten nations in the palace examination, became a Hanlin Scholar five years ago, and will surely become a Grand Academician next year. If he weren't so young, he might have been the top of the four great talents of this generation."

"I remember the Tyrant's personality changed drastically after he came out of the Holy Land, right? Hmph, why didn't he die in there!" The person who spoke obviously had a very bad relationship with the Meng family.

Li Fanming looked at Fang Yun and said, "The Tyrant said you want to be a mad king. So what if you become one? This madness is not arrogance, but the madness of Sage Confucius. The Master said: If I cannot find a medium, I must find an extremist or a cautious person. The extremist is ambitious, and the cautious person has things he will not do."

Everyone praised in unison. This quote came from the Analects, which means that if Confucius couldn't find someone who truly followed the Doctrine of the Mean, he would befriend extremists or cautious people. Extremists are daring and responsible, while cautious people have things they will and will not do. Both are worth befriending for Confucius.

"Fang Yun, will you be this mad king?"

Fang Yun calmly looked at the gate and said firmly, "Let's not talk about the title of mad king for now, but the extremists and cautious people mentioned by Sage Confucius. I will be one today! Since the Tyrant said I can't get out of the Holy Land, then I must get out and let everyone know that the Tyrant is terribly wrong! How can one be a tyrant forever just because he is a tyrant for a moment? Those who obstruct me, I will annihilate them with my pen!"

Everyone nodded in silent praise. The Tyrant was pressuring him. Once Fang Yun lost in terms of courage, it would be difficult for him to compete with top talents like the Tyrant in the future.

Intelligence can change, but the courage to write remains unyielding!

Li Fanming praised loudly, "This is what a scholar should be! The Jing Kingdom first had the Eyebrow Hero, then Fang Zhenguo. Truly a sign of great prosperity!"

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"On this trip to the Holy Land, if Brother Fang encounters any difficulties, the disciples of my Zu family will definitely lend a hand! A few days ago, I mentioned you when I was talking with some disciples from the Zhang Heng prominent family. We will definitely not be your enemy in the Holy Land." Zu Yuanhe said.

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"In the Holy Land, as long as you, Fang Yun, don't rob my things like the Tyrant, I will definitely help. Otherwise, I would be letting down the 'Inscription of the Humble House' in my study!"

"Then I can't help but assist, otherwise I would be letting down the 'Three Character Classic' I gave to my nephew and my own 'There is a way to the top of the Book Mountain, and the sea of learning is boundless'."

Everyone laughed.

They missed the time for the noon literary meeting, so they didn't go. Instead, they had lunch at Fang Yun's house, drank and chatted, which was like a small literary meeting.

These scholars all avoided talking about the Holy Land, discussing poetry and the meaning of classics instead.

Fang Yun had a pleasant first interaction with scholars from all over the world. He had been reading these days, and he had unique insights in classics, strategy, military tactics, music, painting, and calligraphy. These scholars felt that Fang Yun truly lived up to his reputation.

It wasn't until evening that the group left and headed to the Confucius Mansion Academy together.

As the sun set, they arrived at the gate of the Confucius Mansion Academy. Fang Yun looked ahead and saw a very wide square in front of him. In the center of the square stood a statue of Sage Confucius. The statue was extremely tall, about twenty zhang high, and everyone could only look up at it.

Further away, outside the city, was a mountain that was three thousand feet high. The mountain was shrouded in clouds and mist, like a fairyland.The Kong Family Academy in front of them was extremely spacious, with no walls around it. The outer area was filled with lawns and flower beds, surrounded by green trees. Inside, there were tall book towers, large ancient halls, and many ordinary dormitories. Many scholars were strolling around, and although there were many people, it was not noisy.

The tallest structure here was the statue of Confucius, followed by various ancient trees that were hundreds or even thousands of years old. They were everywhere, a sight rarely seen in other cities.

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Li Fanming looked at the square and said, "If nothing unexpected happens, the Mid-Autumn Festival Literary Gathering in the Holy Land will be held here in the academy square tomorrow. Half of the city's population will come, and the surrounding streets will be blocked by the crowd. Eight years ago, someone attended the Holy Land Literary Gathering and found that the place was already packed. He couldn't squeeze in and stood outside crying. Later, the Kong Family made an exception and invited a Grand Academician to bring him in using the 'Stride through the Clouds' technique."

"What happened to that person?"

"He is now an Imperial Scholar and has gained some fame."

As they walked towards the Kong Family Academy, Fang Yun asked, "Is it a custom in the City of Confucius to hold literary gatherings in the Kong Family Academy?"

Li Fanming replied, "Unlike other places, the City of Confucius is the largest city in the world, and most of its residents are scholars. Large-scale literary gatherings are held every now and then, with a few hundred to a thousand, even ten thousand participants. The taverns can't accommodate everyone, so the vacant courtyards in the Kong Family Academy are used. The academy has many courtyards, among which the Zhu and Si Courtyards are the largest. Their names originate from the places where Sage Confucius gave his lectures, and he also taught his disciples in these two courtyards. Large-scale literary gatherings like the Mid-Autumn Festival Literary Gathering are held in the Si Courtyard, while the Great Scholar's lectures are held in the Zhu Courtyard."

"I've heard of the Si Courtyard. It's said to be an open-air lecture hall. When Sage Confucius lectured at the front, tens of thousands of disciples would sit on straw mats and listen," Fang Yun said.

"Exactly, you'll understand once you go there."

The sixteen of them walked along the path in the Kong Family Academy, seeing groups of scholars everywhere. The lowest rank among them was Child Scholar, there were many Accomplished Scholars, a great number of Presented Scholars, but fewer Imperial Scholars.

"I've always heard that the Kong Family Academy has a hundred thousand students, and when they leave the City of Confucius, the world is shocked. Is this number true?" Fang Yun asked.

"One hundred thousand is an exaggeration, but there are indeed about eighty thousand. Not only are there people from the City of Confucius, but many prominent families, wealthy families, and noble families from the ten nations also send their disciples here to study. After all, this place was built by Sage Confucius himself, and it is said that studying here can enhance one's talent faster. Moreover, after studying at the Kong Family Academy and participating in the imperial examination, it is indeed easier to pass than students from ordinary academies and colleges. If it weren't for the various restrictions of the Kong Family Academy, it would have been overcrowded long ago."

Li Fanming acted like a guide, continuously introducing the Kong Family Academy to Fang Yun. Finally, they arrived at a peculiar place where trees formed a wall.

The ancient trees forming the wall were towering, with the thinnest ones being as thick as ten people hugging them together. Moreover, the ancient trees were unusually close to each other, leaving only narrow gaps between each pair. The roots at the bottom were entwined, and the crowns at the top overlapped.

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Standing in front of these ancient tree walls, it felt like standing in a primeval forest, and one could clearly feel the ancient and long-lasting aura.

"I heard that these ancient trees have a lifespan of ten thousand years because they listened to Sage Confucius's lectures, and they are called 'Tree Gentlemen'?" Fang Yun asked as he walked and looked at these ancient trees.

Li Fanming laughed and said, "Yes, all the ancient trees in the Kong Family Academy are 'Tree Gentlemen'. All the Saints of past generations have lectured in the Kong Family Academy, and these ancient trees have heard a lot, so they have become somewhat different. If a good poem or essay appears, the tree crowns will sway, and leaves will fall in abundance, which is jokingly referred to by everyone as the 'Nodding and Shaking Tree Gentlemen'. The better the poem or essay, the more leaves will fall. Every time a Semi-Saint gives a lecture, all the leaves will fall."

"Interesting," Fang Yun said.

Fang Yun heard faint thunder from inside the tree wall and found it strange.

After a while, the tree wall was separated by two stone pillars, forming a gate five zhang wide.

"Inside is the Si Courtyard."

Everyone gradually entered the gate and saw a small square inside, filled with tables and chairs, enough to accommodate ten thousand people.

Nearby, there were hundreds of long tables, with many people sitting by them. Further inside, there were hundreds of single-person low tables, most of which were occupied.

As soon as Fang Yun entered the gate, he felt a surge of talent, making his breathing a bit difficult, but he quickly recovered, only to hear a buzzing sound in his ears.

Fang Yun then understood why there was thunder inside. The Si Courtyard was too large, and many people were using the 'Spring Thunder from the Tongue' technique to converse, consuming their talent. There were thousands of people inside, and hundreds of them were using the 'Spring Thunder from the Tongue'. Even though they all deliberately controlled the range, it was like thunder echoing, and those who were not Presented Scholars had no way to completely distinguish who was saying what.

After a few steps, a servant came over and respectfully said, "Please show your invitation to the literary gathering."

Li Fanming and a few other noble children took out their invitations and handed them to the servant. Although some people didn't have invitations, they could still enter.

While looking for a long table, Fang Yun discovered that the people here were either Presented Scholars or Imperial Scholars, and there were even Hanlin Scholars and a few Grand Academicians. There were only a few Accomplished Scholars, and they all looked about eleven or twelve years old, apparently noble disciples who had come out to study. (To be continued.)