Chapter 294: It takes more than courage (5)

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An Fei had a single sentence to say for the two martial arts techniques that she had pulled from the Sanctum’s seemingly infinite collection of books in the Archives of Time.

<Hemorrhage> was nonsensical murals plagued by fine script, and <Calligraphy> was nothing more than a madman’s collection of words!

The former was still tolerable as however small and astute the characters were, at least they were somewhat readable!

“What <Caligraphy> is this, this looks even worse than a primary schooler’s scribbling on the College Examination Test!!”

The young girl’s body deflated as she stared holes into the text of displayed on <Calligraphy>, unable to prevent her mind from spacing out due to the sudden shock. An Fei twitched gently on the bed, broken wheezes of laughter escaping her throat as though she were a broken machine.

When she was still in Jiang’an, Wei Xuan had once gulled her into transcribing an entire collection of a scholar’s works as “calligraphy practice.”

She had later found out that the respectable father of a minister had wagered her writing practice in a gambling bet, which resulted in the massive collection of gold, silver, and bronze coins in the grey satchel.

Great Scholar Tie’s works, to be precise.

To this day, An Fei could remember the old scholar’s writing technique and calligraphy style front to back in her mind, her body breaking into shivers at the horrible torment she had undergone. Remembering how the old scholar loved overextending ‘shu’ strokes to the next character in vertical script and randomizing ‘heng’ strokes when writing in horizontal script…

…she wanted nothing more than a nice, steaming bowl of broth.

“That was horrible enough, but what is this… abhorrence?” the young girl gulped, her teeth chattering in fear.

“I can’t even tell the difference in the strokes! Where did the short, long, and flat strokes go!? And what did they do to the dots – am I supposed to treat these boxes as dots now!?”

An Fei felt so defeated by the characters swimming before her eyes. Glancing over the text, the young girl felt as though she would never have enough courage to decipher the mess of characters that constituted the seemingly amiable tome <Calligraphy>.

For the first part, the writer of the tome seemed to have forgone all knowledge of the basic strokes, and simply threw them into a pot of boiling water and selected whatever popped up first.

The characters appeared relatively normal compared to An Fei’s memory of Mandarin script, but some of the types of strokes had been replaced by others, and the distribution of length of said strokes had been entirely randomized…

This person even dared mix and match the ‘xie’ and ‘pie’ strokes…

Just how was that possible!?

“The essence of calligraphy is to… impart knowledge as per the writer’s wishes,” the young girl ground her teeth in frustration.

“The arrangement of the strokes need not matter; the invocation of the will determines the ultimate result. Secondary concerns provide… not compared to the final end of disseminating knowledge…”

An Fei’s eyes watered as she tried to ignore the horrendous handwriting and calligraphy style before her eyes, taking deep breaths the ignore the spikes of pain piercing through her mind. The young girl continued to slog through the murals of text, and yet found herself pausing after the third paragraph.

The invocation of the will determined the final result?

Why did that phrase appear so familiar?

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“Knowledge is communicated through signals; the accepted signals are wisdom of the listener, and ignored signals are fallacies. To convey through writing… is an ultimate, failsafe method of conveying knowledge to another.”

To convey through writing was the failsafe method of conveying knowledge to another person?

Just how could that be possible; even the Mandarin of her previous modern life had numerous complications due to the inherently ambiguous definitions of characters and the manner in which people implemented such characters… just how can such a method so prone to misinterpretation be considered “failsafe?”

The young girl tapped the soft pages of the tome, her brows furrowing into slanted crescents. An Fei squinted her eyes to forcibly concentrate onto the pages, bringing her tattered mind to the scraggly words clasped in ink.

“The receiver may not visibly accept a signal, but minds accept all. The concept of failsafe need not observation of the eyes, but of the soul –“

Knock!

A single knuckle tapped onto the wooden door isolating her from the seemingly prosperous and infinitely rowdy city of Goeun, and Wen Jiu opened the door to saunter into the room.

The handsome man raised his arms to reveal a basket full of fruits and pastries, the aromatic mixture of fragrances bewitching to the senses.

“Young Miss,” Wen Jiu began with a light flourish of the food before the hungry young girl.

“Would you believe that the city of Goeun has so many exciting people? Disregarding that they are citizens of Bei Tang, the adventurers of this city have many interesting tales to –“

‘Quiet!’

Picking up a small wooden rod that had dislodged itself from the bedstand before she had settled into the room, An Fei leapt from the edge of the bed towards Wen Jiu, her hand and wrist releasing swift strokes in the air. The rod sliced through the air with the veracity and strength of a sword, the hooked angles and fine slashes causing the light fabrics to tremble.

The wooden stick made a total of six movements through the air, with the final stroke landing directly onto the smiling handsome man’s chest.

It was a total of six mere movements, swift and mechanical to the point that it was difficult to discern life within them.

Not to mention, the strokes of the wooden stick had little strength behind them, as though its wielder was attempting to practice calligraphy for their first time, uncertain and hesitant of their destiny.

And yet, Wen Jiu discovered that his tongue had fallen silent.

However his tongue moved, and his lips chattered, only quiet air passed through the base of his throat. All concept of vocal sound seemed to have been removed from his knowledge, even if he were screaming within his heart.

Quiet.

Wen Jiu was quiet, just as An Fei had wished.

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Before she realized, night had fallen.

“This is… too much for now, ah.”

An Fei placed down <Calligraphy> onto the side of the bed, glancing at the plain wall that separated her room from that of Wen Jiu. Remembering the stunned expression of the handsome man as he fought to regain the ability to express noise, the young girl’s fingers curled onto the leather cover of the tome.

She seemed to have grasped the cusp of what the writer of the abhorrent calligraphy was attempting to express. The more the young girl thought about it, she thought her conjecture made sense.

In essence, <Calligraphy> sought to impose the wielder’s will onto the receiver; as a martial arts technique, it was a more direct and lucid application of <Heavenly Talisman> without the latter’s insane difficulties.

By writing a series of calligraphic strokes into the air, an intention could be expressed from one party to another.

Regardless of the strain on the reader or however horrible a person’s handwriting could be, as long as the characters were relatively of similar arrangement and shape, a reader could make sense of the implied meaning.

<Heavenly Talisman> required the soul to directly invoke its intention onto the neighboring surroundings, overlapping nothingness with existence.

It was tantamount to an act by God, for an empty void could not manifest creation without a deity’s capability.

<Calligraphy>, on the other hand, accessed a common system of conveying knowledge through writing, bypassing the restriction imposed onto <Heavenly Talisman>. As long as the receiver was aware of the strokes utilized within the shared system of knowledge, it was easy for the wielder to invoke their will, though to a limited extent compared to the former.

For societies and territories such as Great Yong, Great Yan, and Bei Tang to exist, there had to exist a common system of conveying knowledge. For histories and cultures to flourish through the never-ending march of time, there required a common system of writing to convey the knowledge from one point of time to another.

“It’s rather simple, isn’t it?”

As long as there existed a receiver that could interpret her strokes, <Calligraphy> allowed her to exploit godly abilities that exceeded the limits of man and cultivators themselves.

There was no need for agreement with whatever she wrote; as long as the receiver dared to acknowledge the existence of her calligraphy, then she could impose her will onto the receiver as she wished.

Just as how she had silenced Wen Jiu, a cultivator at the entry stage of the Core Formation Realm, with nothing but a wooden stick and six strokes that formed the character ‘Quiet.’

“Although, this wouldn’t really work on someone who’s illiterate, wouldn’t… it?”

<Calligraphy> only required a common system of transferring knowledge… since illiterate people couldn’t interpret a written language, was she to utilize pictures?

Wouldn’t that make the technique <Painting>, instead?

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- my thoughts:
...she wanted a nice, steaming bowl of broth. Great Scholar Tie, ah...
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