She took a deep breath and stared bravely at him with her head held high: “Teacher, you were right. I lacked talents compared to my peers in my clan, so I became diffident. I do love reading but I shouldn’t use it as an excuse for my uselessness, so Teacher, please teach me.”
She actually got on her knees and bowed for a long time.
“I will teach you since I’m your teacher.” Li Qiye waved his sleeve and told her to get up: “The paths for both the dao and learning aren’t easy. For example, the legend you like so much, you will need to take it step-by-step before truly verifying it. Patience and unyielding perseverance are required for success. Don’t forget what you truly desire and you will be able to go far.”
She met his stare and said with conviction: “Teacher, I am neither talented or intelligent, maybe I won’t reach the level you are talking about, but I will keep trying as long as there is a chance in order to not let you down.”
“Having this thought is a good start.” Li Qiye nodded: “No one is born with an indomitable dao heart, that’s impossible. One could have supreme talents at birth, but dao heart requires polishing and hardship. Work hard, persevere, never give up - you’ll be able to have a brilliant and bright heart.”
She quietly nodded and memorized each word.
“Come, I’ll show you a place.” Li Qiye said before leaving.
She quickly gave chase despite not knowing what awaits her. Others gave up on her but Li Qiye didn’t, so she’ll take this next step.
There were too many other exceptional members in the clan compared to her. Her cultivation as the oldest daughter was far behind on top of her fixation towards reading. Thus, the seniors in the clan have all but forgotten about her. Even her parents thought she wasn’t worth grooming so they let her do as she pleases.
The clan often chastised or made fun of her hobby. In their eyes, reading this nonsense literature and history books was a waste of time, an improper way of life.
Because of this, she ran away from both cultivation and her family. Staying at Study Room gave her freedom. No one would scold or make fun of her in this place.
Alas, she still had her insecurities while being here. Li Qiye was right about her using reading as escapism and she was certainly aware of this.
But now, Li Qiye didn’t sneer at her and gave her a chance. This was opening a door in her heart, allowing her to walk out of the shadows and into the sun.
He brought her into a different peak with a house made out of rocks on top. There was nothing inside but pictures covering the walls.
To be more accurate, it looked like a child or someone playing around, not art from a master.
Li Qiye sat down and said: “If you have read enough books, now it is the time to test you. Take a careful look and learn the meanings in this place.”
She has never been here before because Study Room was too large. She didn’t even finish reading its library yet, let alone these other spots.
She focused up and came closer to look at the pictures all over the walls and ceiling. One would think that someone was just messing around because they were too ugly. Even a three-year-old wouldn’t draw this badly.
Nevertheless, she was instantly immersed in these pictures and even forgot about Li Qiye.
He sat there waiting, seemingly falling asleep.
After a long time, she finally finished checking all the pictures and remembered that Li Qiye was here.
“Teacher…. Sorry, I was entranced…” She felt bad for lacking impropriety.
Li Qiye didn’t scold her: “One may neglect food and sleep while searching for the dao. It is an amazing experience. Alright, time to test you.”
He casually pointed at a picture with crooked lines. It looked like a deer but the nose was too long on top of three skewed lines in front, seemingly added out of a whim.
“This long-nosed deer is a Song Deer in the legends. I’ve, I’ve seen it before in a book. The three lines represent the Si River because that’s where the deer reside. Its dominating power comes from this river.” She said with uncertainty.
“Good job.” Li Qiye gave words of encouragement: “Not bad at all, very few people know about this deer and Si.”
She was elated to hear the praise. In the past, when she talked to others about legends, no one bothered to listen at all or worse, they scoffed at her interest. Gradually, she didn’t want to speak to anyone about this topic any longer.
“Well, you need to understand the symbolism before understanding its mysteries.” Li Qiye asked once more: “What is this then?”
He pointed at a circle with an unbelievably ugly chick below. The circle was perfect outside of an imperfection caving in.
“This is… a night phoenix inside a ceremony. The incomplete circle is the ceremony while the bird represents the phoenix. The dark affinity in this is an ominous sign.” Xinxue said.
“Indeed.” Li Qiye nodded and elaborated: “Pay more attention to the ceremony originating from the primal chaos - it hinders the opposite affinity, such as light versus dark. This particular beast is darkness so a disaster will naturally come. The ceremony is there to stop it.”
“I see. I thought it was just about the bird.” Xinxue was happy to learn more.
“What about this?” Li Qiye pointed at a different picture.
Just like that, he made her analyze the pictures and would explain whichever ones she didn’t understand.
The amateurish scribbles here were actually part of a legend. Each was a mythical beast; only erudite experts could grasp their meanings.
“You have done well to recognize the significance. This is the first step in understanding the mysteries within. They will open a new path for you.” He said after she finished going over all the pictures.
It was an exciting and fulfilling moment for her since praises weren’t something she heard very often. More importantly, she was also being recognized for her knowledge from past learning. She certainly lacked this sense of approval.
She eventually calmed down and said: “Teacher, you’re saying that these pictures are a merit law?”
With that, she took a quick glance at the room again. Though they were related to many legends, she couldn’t come up with another interpretation.