After Failing to Influence the Protagonist Chapter 42

Chapter 42 God

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They entered Zhuangyuan Temple, each person wearing a mask. It was still early in the morning, and the temple was filled with smoke. The candlelight, shining brightly, revealed the face of the God of Literature, illuminated by the red candles. The shaman instructed them to enter one by one and kneel closely together.

Even though everyone had masks on, Pei Jing knew the person beside him was Yu Qinglian because they had come in together. Amidst the shaman’s strange, slightly hoarse voice, Pei Jing heard Yu Qinglian whispering quietly.

“I found this mask odd from the start. It looks like some kind of demon. When the God chooses someone, the mask moves. I think it’s possessed by a ghost.”

They communicated silently, using their divine awareness, while the people nearby remained unaware.

Pei Jing: “Well, you won’t be chosen anyway. Why bother worrying about all this?”

Yu Qinglian: “Who says I won’t be chosen? We have concealed our cultivation and hidden our presence. We are cultivators, and this temple is filled with low-level ghosts and demons. They might even find us more tempting.”

Pei Jing: “Let’s just wait and see.”

It was the village’s custom that those chosen must take part in the imperial examination the following spring. Some of the selected youngsters weren’t even scholars, yet they often found success and climbed the ranks of scholars along the way.

After the shaman finished her song, she instructed them to stand up and form a circle around the statue. The crowd became disorganized, causing Pei Jing and Yu Qinglian to be separated. Pei Jing stood directly in front of the statue, looking up and glimpsing the expression on the God of Literature’s face—a subtle mix of pity and mockery, made more real in the haze of swirling incense.

Suddenly, there was a loud bang as firecrackers outside exploded, followed by a gust of wind that extinguished all the lights. The temple, nestled in a valley, was now engulfed in complete darkness. Pei Jing closed his eyes and heard faint sounds, almost like the sound of chewing, spreading from beneath the ground. When he first put on the mask, he had a strange sensation, but now it grew suffocating, as if he were buried alive, his breath stifled by the dust.

It felt exactly like being buried alive.

The prayer began.

With his eyes tightly shut, the presence of the living people around him vanished, leaving him alone in an empty, desolate world. The doors of Zhuangyuan Temple swung open, and a powerful light came from above, compelling him to open his eyes and silently lift his head. It was the gaze of the God of Literature, bearing a hint of mockery and weariness with the world.

Silence enveloped them as their gazes locked.

Initially, from Pei Jing’s viewpoint, he could only see the statue’s chin and expression.

But now, the statue lowered its head.

The God of Literature had come alive, but it remained silent. Pei Jing stayed still, feeling as if the mask on his face tightened and melted, as though it wanted to fuse with his own skin, replacing his true face.

Intense white light shone from above, forming a radiant halo, with only Pei Jing standing within it. The light even faded the figure of the God of Literature.

In the hazy beginning of time, he heard the voice of a man reciting, resonating with determination and a gentle scholarly air, accompanied by the chirping of birds.

“All things in the world nourish humans, yet people still complain of Heaven’s indifference. Unbeknownst to them, plagues and pests cover the world, causing suffering to all living beings and subjects. Lives of commoners are no different from that of dogs, while the privileged revel in luxury, basking in Heaven’s favor. Such a desolate world defies humanity, going against the natural order, inviting Heaven’s condemnation! Suddenly, a madman sharpens his blade at night, while the imperial star wavers and the planets grow restless. From this moment, the world turns upside down. Why hesitate to shed blood? Kill the disloyal, kill the unfilial, kill the heartless, kill the unjust, kill those lacking manners, wisdom, and trust. By the decree of the Heaven, kill, kill, kill!”

With each word “kill” uttered, it felt as though iron and steel were stained with blood, as if a thousand armies emerged from the earth.

Within the white light, Pei Jing caught sight of Zhang Qingshu.

It began with his ten years of arduous study. Nights and days spent in the confines of his room, a young man almost resembling a piece of wood.

In this backward and rough village, he appeared distinctly different—physically frail, with a pale complexion. He couldn’t work in the fields or labor like others. At first, everyone ridiculed him, mocking Zhang Qingshu’s father for not having a daughter instead. But later, he achieved great fame.

Majestic imperial city, splendid attire behind the vermilion gates.

The first prodigy of his time, wielding the brush and splashing ink, a pillar of the nation, full of vigor, casting a glance that encompassed a myriad of poetry and literature.

He hailed from a humble background but held high positions and influence. He embodied loyalty, righteousness, propriety, and trustworthiness, earning the respect of countless individuals.

Every day, the entrance bustled with visitors as officials vied to curry favor.

The entire picture showcased such splendor, whether it was the political bickering in the imperial court or the discreet indulgences behind closed doors. Countless envious gazes were cast, making one feel that if they could live up to this level, it would be considered fulfillment.

Pei Jing didn’t understand why he was being shown this.

Soon, a faint and indistinguishable voice echoed.

“Envious, aren’t you?”

Pei Jing: “…” Now he understood. He had been chosen by the God of Literature. He felt a slight urge to laugh, but since he had been concealing his identity all along, he naturally nodded, his mask covering any indifferent expression. His tone, however, carried a sense of trepidation. “Are you the God of Literature?”

The voice replied, “I am not.”

Pei Jing: “Then, are you a God?”

The voice had a slightly seductive tone. “You can consider me as such… Are you envious of that person just now?”

Pei Jing found it amusing and shook his head. “I’m not very envious.”

The “God” hesitated briefly before continuing, “Don’t you desire both fame and fortune, making those who looked down on you in the past feel ashamed?”

Pei Jing casually blurted out, “No, no, we scholars don’t seek fame, fortune, or the approval of others. We only strive to dedicate ourselves for the sake of all under Heaven.”

The “God” fell silent once again, and after a long while, the voice sounded serene. “Then, I can grant you boundless wisdom.”

Pei Jing: “But I am already wise enough.”

The God: “…”

Pei Jing certainly didn’t want to upset the God, so he quickly added, “However, I wish to meet you in person.”

The God: “Hmm?”

Pei Jing: “It was my grandmother’s dying wish. She said I had been unfortunate since childhood, and it would be good if I could meet you and dispel some bad luck.”

The God probably didn’t want to engage in further conversation. Their voice turned hoarse and cold as they said, “Then come here to find me tomorrow at midnight. You are one of the chosen ones this time.”

Pei Jing was overjoyed, “Wow, really? Thank you.”

After being chosen by the God of Literature, there was a ritual of inheritance. It was during this stage that A’ru and her brother had encountered trouble.

Pei Jing: I hope you won’t be too afraid to come out and meet me then.

Pei Jing could sense that this was just a little demon, masquerading behind the statue of the God. But behind it, there must be someone else, probably the entire population of that cursed village.

After the God vanished, the peculiar surroundings dispersed, and Pei Jing looked up again to find that the God of Literature had returned to normal. Glancing sideways, he noticed the faint sunlight streaming in, illuminating every person’s face.

Concealed by his mask, Pei Jing’s expression was hidden, but his body language revealed that the situation was likely not good. And for the villagers, “not good” simply meant no response. In his opinion, that was actually a good thing.

Only a few dozen people remained in the temple. The shaman, noticing Pei Jing’s gaze shifting around, furrowed her brow and patted his back, pointing towards the door. The meaning was clear—she wanted him to leave.

Pei Jing didn’t linger. However, the shaman, upon seeing his face, struggled to conceal her surprise beneath the haphazardly applied makeup. Nevertheless, she refrained from speaking as the ritual continued.

Once outside the temple, Pei Jing immediately touched his face and instead of the cold mask, he felt the dampness of greenish mud that could be wiped away.

What kind of demon is this? It’s pretending to be an all-powerful god, capable of fulfilling everyone’s desires. Were the simpletons in this village also deceived in the same way?

However, based on their deep reverence for the God of Literature, the procedure couldn’t have been as tedious for them.

Let’s imagine the scene for a moment.

It was probably like this, with that indistinguishable voice asking, “Do you want to achieve fame and become a winner in life?”

Then, the villagers, moved to tears, would respond, “Yes, yes, yes!”

Pei Jing waited, and after a resonant toll of a long bell, precisely at that moment, the sunlight shifted and pierced through the mountain peak, illuminating this ancient and mysterious temple.

A beam of light crossed over the lintel.

Immediately after, the elderly shaman’s voice rang out, “Rise!”

Everyone in the temple opened their eyes.

They looked at each other and couldn’t help but feel a hint of disappointment. They searched for those whose masks had changed. When they found the individuals, all of them, despite their disappointment, became dumbfounded and felt as miserable as if they had eaten feces.

There was a chubby outsider, looking terrified and with a timid gaze.

There was an outsider woman, displaying impatience and a cold indifference on her face.

There was an unsociable young man, exhibiting a reclusive demeanor that resembled a lifeless corpse.

There was an outsider monk, blind in both eyes, constantly wearing a smile.

Zhuangyuan Village held a selection once every three years.

This time, all the selections were outsiders.

Every single outsider was chosen.

All the villagers, including the shaman, inwardly cursed and thought that it might be time to consider replacing the village chief.

A group of people behind them stared at them with peculiar eyes, whispering and discussing incessantly.

Besides Ji Wuyou, who was trembling with fear and overwhelming shame, everyone else paid no attention.

The atmosphere in the entire Zhuangyuan Village had changed. People wore gloomy expressions, silently seething with anger.

The individuals involved shut themselves indoors, deliberating on the upcoming inheritance ceremony.

Pei Jing felt that it was impossible for them to remain in those few households any longer. It would be better if they all gathered at the village chief’s house since the village chief was an understanding person.

Pei Jing first explained the scene he had encountered, “There was this person who tricked me, claiming to be a god and promising to grant me whatever I desired. He asked me to attend the inheritance ceremony tomorrow night.”

Yu Qinglian: “The same thing happened to me.”

Pei Jing: “Did he also mention something about Zhang Qingshu’s past?”

Yu Qinglian: “Yes, he did. It was quite glorious. But when he saw that I was a woman, he seemed taken aback. He initially promised me fame and fortune but immediately changed his tune, offering me beauty instead.”

After a brief pause, she added, “So, I told him that I was already beautiful enough.”

Pei Jing already knew the rest of her story from the beginning and couldn’t be bothered to listen further. What interested him more was Chu Junyu—after all these days, it was the first time Chu Junyu had sincerely joined them, sitting among their group.

Pei Jing: “What did he intend to give you?”

Sitting here, Chu Junyu seemed like an outsider, speaking in a cold tone, “He promised to grant me the most formidable martial arts in the world.”

Pei Jing: “…Did you also refuse, saying that you don’t need it and that you’re invincible?”

For some reason, Pei Jing just had a feeling that this god had been rejected countless times today.

Chu Junyu glanced at him and didn’t deny it.


Unable to hold back, Pei Jing burst into laughter.

This god really had a streak of bad luck today, encountering rejection everywhere.

When asked about Wu Sheng, he shook his head, “I didn’t hear anything. All I knew was that the person was watching me without saying a word.”

Pei Jing chuckled, “I guess with your pure and indifferent temperament, that demon couldn’t find a way to approach you. All it could do was watch and exert pressure on you to make you aware that you were chosen by a god.”

Wu Sheng smiled in response.

Finally, Pei Jing turned to Ji Wuyou and asked, “Ji Wuyou, what about you?”

Ji Wuyou seemed a bit absent-minded and didn’t react.

Pei Jing asked again, “What did that person say they would give you?”

Among the group, Ji Wuyou had the most on his mind and was the most susceptible to confusion.

Ji Wuyou suddenly snapped back to reality, sensing the gaze of the others. His face turned red, followed by a hint of timidity. He deliberately avoided looking towards Chu Junyu and shrunk his body. “I… I didn’t hear anything either.”

He was lying.

Pei Jing quietly observed but didn’t expose him.

He assumed it was just the young boy’s fragile self-esteem, unwilling to voice his inner desires.

After thinking for a moment, Pei Jing said, “I noticed that the statue of the God of Literature moved a bit earlier.”

However, the others didn’t show any response.

Pei Jing found it strange. Was he the only one who saw it?

Due to limited space in the village chief’s house, Yu Qinglian and A’ru shared a room, while Wu Sheng and Ji Wuyou shared another. Pei Jing and Chu Junyu, being roommates for a year, naturally stayed together. However, that night, none of them could fall asleep. The second floor of the village chief’s house had a serene view of the surrounding woods, with brilliant starlight shining through.

Pei Jing whispered, “Don’t you find it strange?”

Chu Junyu didn’t answer.

Pei Jing: “Choosing all of us at once feels like they have already sensed our identities and set a trap for us to walk into our own demise.”

Chu Junyu’s light-colored eyes shimmered in the moonlight. “Are you afraid?”

Pei Jing: “Not really. If they set a trap, then I’ll set a countertrap. It’s uncertain who will end up dead.”

Chu Junyu chuckled, a hint of mockery in his eyes. “I guess it will be you.”

Pei Jing: “You have quite the way with words—” His face twisted into a ferocious expression, grinding his teeth. “Weren’t we supposed to face life and death together?”

Chu Junyu closed his eyes, refusing to acknowledge him.

Pei Jing: “Brother, have you already forgotten how we bared our hearts in Changtian Realm, swearing brotherhood to the heavens and earth? You’re truly heartless.”

Chu Junyu: “That wasn’t brotherhood.”

Pei Jing: “Regardless, our relationship has changed.”

Chu Junyu was taken aback by his words, his usually cold demeanor showing a touch of peculiarity, his eyes inscrutable.

Pei Jing: “Just tell me, am I the most important person to you in Yunxiao right now?”

Chu Junyu: “Not that important.”

Pei Jing couldn’t help but feel amused in his heart, but still asked, “At least different from others, right?”

“Even if it is, what does it matter?”

Pei Jing: “That’s fine.”


They lay back to back, but both kept their eyes open.

However, neither could fall asleep.

Pei Jing felt a bit puzzled. Chu Junyu… Perhaps he really does have some other thoughts about me.

Chu Junyu seemed lost in his own thoughts.

There was one more person who couldn’t sleep that night.

Ji Wuyou.

Everyone heard the god in the temple asking them what they desired.

Only he, surrounded by a white light, saw the decaying shell of the God of Literature falling away, revealing a young man walking down with pen and paper in hand.

The young scholar dressed in green robes and a silk headdress wore a weary expression, his eyes filled with disdain for the world.

“How pitiful.”

These two words exposed all the moments of the lowliness and fear that Ji Wuyou had carried throughout his journey, revealing the almost grotesque envy hidden within.

Every organ burned as if consumed by fire.

Blood boiled within his veins.

His body was battered and bruised.

He truly was pitiful.

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