After Failing to Influence the Protagonist Chapter 36

Chapter 36 Wuwang Peak

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Staring at the statue for an extended period of time made one feel sick or languid.

The statue’s facial features were unhealthy, with a dull expression, as if its lifewould be short-lived.

Pei Jing candidly remarked, “This God of Literature looks like a delicate scholar.”

Even the passing old lady’s gaze lingered on the statue, filled with awe and fascination. “Scholars don’t need to toil like us, it doesn’t matter if they have physical weaknesses.”

Pei Jing simply smiled and commented, “It’s not about physical weakness.” It seems to me that his life is short and he might have perished prematurely.

Naturally, he couldn’t say these words, as it would result in being punished.

The Zhuangyuan Temple, in contrast, had a steady stream of incense burning, and the offerings of chicken, duck, and fish were neatly arranged. After observing, Yu Qinglian chose to stay, while Pei Jing departed with the old lady.

He lowered his head, observing the old lady’s rough, calloused hands as they walked along the mountain path. Curiosity prompted him to ask, “I’ve heard people mention that the scholars here will eventually return. Why haven’t I seen a single one?” The old lady, carrying a basket in one hand, chuckled in response, “Oh, they all return on their deathbeds. How could you possibly encounter them?”

Pei Jing grew curious. “They come back before their death?”

The old lady nodded and explained, “Yes, before passing away, those with children send their young grandchildren to be raised by relatives. It’s an old village tradition. When I got married here, my third uncle had become a scholar that year. And twenty years later, he returned and entrusted me with his young grandsons.”

Pei Jing noticed her modest appearance and couldn’t help but remark, “Forgive me for being straightforward, but why didn’t your successful third uncle ever offer any support?”

The old lady hesitated and tried to brush it off, but their eyes met.

Suddenly, a sharp pang pierced her, leaving her momentarily blank.

She forced a stiff smile, then relaxed and sighed. “In our village, there were two kinds of people: locals and outsiders. Once they achieved success and left, they were no longer considered locals. Their wealth and glory became their own affairs, unrelated to us.”

Pei Jing: “Then why do you go to great lengths to encourage your descendants to study?”

The old lady: “We seek the favor of the God of Literature, hoping for its blessings. There was a year when some ignorant outsiders disrupted the Night of Wishes, causing turmoil. The God of Literature grew furious and didn’t choose anyone. As expected, that year, all the candidates failed. And for the following three years, our village faced various natural disasters… My youngest son passed away during that time.”

Affected by a mild Soul-Capturing Technique, the old lady’s gaze became distant as they continued walking. She decided to reveal everything she knew.

“My grandfather once told me that centuries ago, we sought refuge deep in the forest. The Demon Lord of Wuwang Peak discovered our presence but was unable to reach us after being restrained outside the Zhuangyuan Temple. The statue of the God of Literature saved us all, and as a token of gratitude, the village was named ‘Zhuangyuan Village.'”

“It was only after I got married here that I discovered the numerous customs of the village. The Night of Wishes, the Night of Heritage—every three years, a few individuals are chosen. Once chosen, they are bound to succeed. However, once they leave, all connections are severed.”

Pei Jing: “Once they leave, all connections are severed. Are you willing to let go of your children and grandchildren pursuing the imperial examinations?”

The old lady: “What is there to hesitate about? Being favored by the God of Literature is their blessing. They can enjoy wealth and prosperity throughout their lives. Just the thought of it makes me wake up laughing from my dreams. Besides, if no one goes to study, the God of Literature would be displeased.”

Pei Jing began to understand. For the people of Zhuangyuan Village, studying and taking the imperial examinations were not about ancestral glory but about appeasing the statue in the temple. In a way, it was a form of worship.

No wonder.

No wonder when he looked at Zhuangyuan Village, there wasn’t even a private school. Among the eligible individuals in every household, it was hard to see anyone diligently studying behind closed doors. They were all waiting for good fortune to fall from the sky, but such things didn’t come so easily.

As they slowly reached the entrance of the valley, the old lady’s eyes gradually cleared. She clenched her basket tightly, appearing puzzled and lost. “Strange. Did I not sleep well last night?”

Pei Jing had traveled far and wide before and had seen many villages plagued by evil spirits, engaging in various rituals, either sacrificing children to the river or burning women at the stake. The villagers were possessed, trapped in these traditions for hundreds of years. Zhuangyuan Village was no different—a bunch of fools.

However, Pei Jing was more interested in something other than uncovering the mischievous spirit in the temple.

That song called “Seventh Killing” and the events that took place on Yunzhong’s Wuwang Peak.

Upon returning to the village chief’s house, Pei Jing saw A’ru washing rice. The young girl lowered her gaze, appearing obedient, while several chickens ran around her feet. Pei Jing stood at a distance, lowering his head and smiling.

She must be a very clever young girl.

The village chief returned in the evening, carrying a hoe, while A’ru had already prepared the meal.

Lighting an oil lamp, Pei Jing sat across from them and said, “I think I have found a way to restore her eyesight. Tomorrow, I will go out to gather medicinal herbs. I’ll return on the Night of Wishes three days later. By then, we may need the help of the God of Literature.”

The village chief lazily lifted his eyelids, his expression numb as he chewed on a peanut. “Hmm.”

The next day, they split into two groups.

Yu Qinglian and Ji Wuyou continued searching for the whereabouts of “Seventh Killing Song” within the village.

Pei Jing and Wu Sheng made a trip to Wuwang Peak. Speaking of which, he hadn’t seen Chu Junyu around these past few days.

Before leaving, Yu Qinglian gracefully peeled sunflower seeds with her slender fingers and commented, “Your apprentice is quite interesting. I feel like the number of words I say in a day equals what he says in a month. Whenever I ask him something, it’s always ‘Hmm,’ ‘Oh,’ ‘Ah.’ He keeps his head down the whole time, making me almost think he’s a demon who eats people.”

Ji Wuyou stood beside them, blushing and unable to speak.

Pei Jing chuckled and said, “It’s because you talk too much.”

Yu Qinglian cracked a sunflower seed, clapped her hands, and the bell tied to her clothes jingled softly. Rolling her eyes, she only addressed Pei Jing, “You should go quickly. After all, you’re more familiar with Wuwang Peak.”

After bidding farewell to the others, Pei Jing asked Wu Sheng as they walked, “During these past few days together, what do you think of Ji Wuyou?”

Wu Sheng hesitated for a moment and replied, “Why are you suddenly asking about this?”

“I brought him here. Honestly, I think this young boy has good aptitude.”

Wu Sheng, holding a staff in one hand and rotating prayer beads in the other, shook his head upon hearing that. “His aptitude may be good, but his character still needs refinement.”

Pei Jing continued, “I brought him here precisely to cultivate his character. His childhood environment wasn’t very favorable, and he lacks full intellectual capacity. He’s naive and ignorant about many things, so being exposed to more experiences will broaden his horizons.”

Wu Sheng paused and smiled slowly, “My concern is that you might be overcomplicating things. If he truly has the innocence of a child, then he doesn’t know right from wrong. Aren’t you afraid that after witnessing too much evil, he might get things twisted and confused?”

Pei Jing was taken aback for a moment. “Although I don’t fully understand, what you say makes sense. I’ll pay closer attention to him when the time comes.”

Wu Sheng smiled without saying a word.

Since the turmoil in Yunzhong four hundred years ago, Wuwang Peak had become desolate. After all, that night of bloodshed left countless vengeful spirits and malevolent ghosts lingering on the peak, unable to disperse.

One of Wu Sheng’s purposes for this journey was to assist Pei Jing in dealing with the aftermath and to help alleviate the tormented souls of Wuwang Peak.

Despite its desolation, people still existed. When the topic of “Pei Yuzhi, One Sword Soaring through the Frost of Wuwang Peak” was being touted at the Celestial Pavilion, there were certainly many who came to imitate or admire it.

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