Xia above, Heavens below. Shatter the crest of Jing and sunder the Palace of Divine to enter the Sanctum.
That was listed in the book left behind by An Xiang Yang as the declared method of re-entering the mysterious crystal palace. As she recalled that statement, An Fei couldn’t help but think that within the seemly arbitrary statement was a more profound meaning, one hidden from the eyes of others until a specific time or need.
It was just that to the current An Fei, the phrase was nothing more than a phrase to be written down on paper and agonized over.
“Fourth Sister, the ink’s dripping onto the paper, hurry up!” Wei Yan Yue’s voice could be heard from her right.
“If the ink stains cover the words later on, First Madam would become very angry at me…”
Observing from the side, Xiao Wen couldn’t help but sigh. What assisting the Fourth Young Miss with practicing calligraphy, when the person herself didn’t even know the meanings of the words she was copying?
Besides, could she even replicate the characters in a straight line as the First Madam Sheng Miaolan strictly mandated from the children of the Wei manor?
Thus, the maidservant diligently rolled up her sleeves, placing the tray onto the bed. Pulling up a stool next to An Fei, the maidservant began to assist the young girl delicately copy the phrase onto a new sheet of paper, rolling her eyes at Wei Yan Yue each time the former’s grip on the brush began to loosen.
“This Fifth Young Miss of Wei, how bold!” the maidservant grumbled to herself in a low murmur.
“Blatantly disobeying the Master’s decree and even forcing her older and bedridden sister to assist her with a punishment, how blind towards propriety and benevolence!”
Although, her words were promptly ignored by both Wei Yan Yue and An Fei.
One was hurriedly copying down Mencius’ phrase whilst glancing at the hourglass from time to time, and the other was daydreaming in her thoughts.
An Fei had practically given up attempting to write calligraphy in the posture dictated by Wei Yan Yue.
Each time she attempted to hold on to the ebony practice brush, her fingers would immediately jump to her old posture of writing characters with either an ink pen or a pencil, sliding down to the base of the writing implement within seconds.
As a mix between embarrassment of her overpowering habit as well as being lost in her thoughts, the girl had delegated the entire writing task to the maidservant next to her.
However, the person in question was similarly lost in her own thoughts of righteous anger towards the ‘mistreatment’ of her Fourth Young Miss and unable to realize that the Fourth Young Miss was simply far too lazy to correct her own habits.
…simply put, all were struggling in their own mental worlds.
An Fei was far too busy envisioning a mental projection of the phrase she had seen within the aged, black book.
Xia over Heaven.
The ‘xia’ for governance, and ‘min’ for heaven. If the characters were to be read side-by-side, the closest interpretation An Fei could confidently acquire from the resulting statement was to ‘govern over heaven’.
However, if they were to be placed in a format in which the two characters overlapped vertically, a rather interesting symbol that made no comprehensive sense, yet was pretty to look at.
Shattering the crest of Jing and sundering the Palace of Divine. An Fei couldn’t help but wonder what ‘shattering the crest of vitality’ could mean.
What counted as a ‘crest of vitality’ anyways?
The diverging point in the method a mind processed information when a person crossed youth into maturity?
…And what did it mean to sunder the Palace of Divine? What was being referenced as ‘Divine’?
An Fei felt that she had far too many questions, and not a single answer that could solve any of them.
In her frustration, the mental image of the diagram overlapping ‘xia’ and ‘min’ became distorted, gradually fading into a messy haze of information.
With only the vestiges of the diagram remaining in her mental projection, the girl deeply wished to sigh and felt the urge to experiment on paper.
Furthermore, her head was throbbing in pain, her mind exhausted from envisioning a phrase of characters, then manipulating them without any assistance from physical diagrams.
Slowly releasing a pent-up breath, An Fei closed her eyes for a few moments before blankly observing Xiao Wen manipulate her hand into copying the characters on the book in the middle of the drawing table.
Once her mind no longer felt like it was being ground to pieces, the girl began to cautiously move the brush grasped in her hand, only paying attention to her grip and not what the maidservant was printing onto the stationary paper.
What she had just used was nothing more than an ordinary memorization technique every student in China was once forced to learn if they had any inclination towards learning.
Imprinting information as a mental visualization and recalling the image instead of blindly reciting content until it was burned into memory, this technique could assist a person recall massive quantities of information in a short period of time.
What An Fei had just done was to directly modify the visualization without any preemptive guide on paper, hence leading to her mental exhaustion.
“Done! We’re finally done!”
Wei Yan Yue’s excited cry broke everyone’s reverie, bringing an instant halt to the frenzied copying and writing.
When An Fei raised her head, she could see thirty sheets of stationary paper neatly stacked on two piles, with twenty contributed by Xiao Wen’s hard work, and ten from Wei Yan Yue.
The maidservant had even mimicked the Fifth Young Miss’ handwriting, causing the latter to repeatedly gush praise and words of gratitude.
“Xiao Wen, ah, you’re truly a lifesaver! Now the First Madam won’t get angry!”
“Then the Fifth Young Miss should hurry on her way. It is nearly lunchtime, there is only half an incense stick’s of time.”
“Then you should come over to the Plum Blossoms Residence! I’ll treat you with a great meal!”
“This servant must respectfully decline! This servant must take proper care of the Fourth Young Miss.”
As Wei Yan Yue attempted to bargain with Xiao Wen for another session of her “assistance” under the guise and incentives of treats, accessories, and even freedom, An Fei gently rolled her neck to loosen the muscles, before picking up the previously discarded ink brush.
Quietly grinding the ink and dipping the brush, she pondered for a brief moment before letting the tip of the brush rest on the paper.
Instead of alternatively deriving an interpretation from the words, she would instead attempt to combine the characters in the way that the phrase instructed. A rather dumb way, but it was the most feasible out of all others An Fei could construe.
Xia over Heaven.
Shatter the crest of Jing.
Sunder the Palace of Divine to enter the Sanctum.
She first drew the character for ‘Xia’, not caring if her fingers flew to the base of the brush, or if her handwriting had naturally readjusted itself to that of the Small Hairpin Script. Next, she overlapped the base of ‘Xia’ with ‘Min’, creating the diagram once more.
Shatter the crest of Jing, Sunder the Palace of Divine to enter the Sanctum.
Each character was overwritten with the next, not extending to the left or bottom. When An Fei had finished writing the characters for ‘Sanctum’, she withdrew her gaze for a moment before looking back.
What greeted her was a complex mess of lines and arcs of ink in the form of a convoluted, nearly demonic diagram.
Confined within a square of a centimeter wide, what constituted a phrase now appeared to be an ink drawing compressed to a single diagram, making it difficult for An Fei to discern anything when she glanced at it.
And yet, when she narrowed her eyes and stared even further, even utilizing the memorization technique she was familiar with to imprint it into her mind, the girl’s lips moved of their own accord, unbidden by any consciousness.
“[Eternity. The basis of truth and falsehood.]”
The words pronounced were neither in Mandarin, the language of Great Yong and previously, China, or in any human language known since the beginning of civilization.
Though An Fei could understand and comprehend the meaning of the sounds her body pronounced, she was unable to actually hear what the sounds were.
The words were akin to mysterious bells, soft and pleasing to the ears. They were sonorous, jubilant, sorrowful, and yet solemn at the same time, creating a rather interesting phenomenon.
Once the last word escaped her mouth, An Fei saw the world before her distort at great speed, her vision turning dark within an instant.
Opening her eyes after a few minutes, An Fei found herself staring down a massive hall of sky-blue crystal, the familiar warmth surrounding her entire body.
The mysterious throne room of sky-blue crystal, she had returned once again.