Silver Moon City:
The immortal crane carriage flew at a low altitude above the street. The many large shops dazzled the Han Royal Dynasty officials. After all, this was different from the mundane world. The shops here looked very grand, all of them taking up a majestic building each. The broad street stretched over a vast area.
A multitude of cultivators walked on the street. Many similar immortal crane carriages were ferrying people around as well.
The immortal crane carriage came in various sizes. Some of the small ones just had an immortal crane carrying people on its back. There were also large carriages drawn by dozens of immortal cranes, just like the one Gu Hai rode.
The Han Royal Dynasty officials marveled at the sight, but Gu Hai remained calm. After all, the small ones were similar to the cars of his previous world, just in a different form. As for large ones like what he rode, they were like buses.
“Along the way, I saw herb stores, medicinal pill stores, enchanted treasure stores. However, the most common seems to be stores selling zithers?” Gu Hai commented out of curiosity.
“Of course. Silver Moon City’s zithers are world-famous. Haven’t you noticed what the name sounds like?” Long Wanqing smiled.
“Silver moon? Silver moon? Music?” Gu Hai felt startled.
[TL Note: Silver Moon is pronounced yin (second tone) yue. Music is yin (first tone) yue. They sound quite similar, but the tones differentiate them.]
“That is about right. This is the understanding of the later generations. The people who love zithers would come here to seek their zither. Even the inferior zithers here are famous. The music Dao is the leader of cultural cultivation. Naturally, it has its own unique charm. The threshold is not high. It only depends on whether one can comprehend it.” Long Wanqing smiled.
“Right.” Gu Hai nodded.
“Countless zither luthiers gather in Silver Moon City, so the best zithers are here. This place’s remoteness allows it to avoid the conflicts of the world. Silver Moon City already existed before the Qian Heavenly Dynasty’s establishment. This is the holy land of countless zither luthiers. Likewise, there is a world-famous zither luthier clan here, the Silver Moon Mountain Manor,” Long Wanqing explained.
“Oh? The Silver Moon Mountain Manor?” Gu Hai felt slightly surprised.
“Yes. The Silver Moon Mountain Manor focuses on making zithers. It never participates in politics, government affairs, or the military. However, even Silver Moon City’s city lord cannot compare to it in prestige.”
“Oh? Its prestige is even higher than the city lord’s? Isn’t that a bad sign? The Qian Heavenly Emperor does not care?” Gu Hai said doubtfully.
“My maternal grandfather? My maternal grandfather permits this. Back then, he even visited the previous manor lord of the Silver Moon Mountain Manor. The manor lord gave Grandfather a heaven-grade zither. Do you know about heaven grade? Aside from the rumored immortal-grade zither, heaven-grade is already the best in the world. There are not many of them in the world. My Qian Heavenly Dynasty has a total of two heaven-grade zithers, both from the Silver Moon Mountain Manor,” Long Wanqing explained.
“Both are gifts from the Silver Moon Mountain Manor’s manor lord. One is called Founding Dynasty, which was given to my maternal grandfather. The other was called Army Breaker, which was given to Duke Lu Yang,” Long Wanqing explained.
“Founding Dynasty? Army Breaker?”
“So, don’t just see the Silver Moon Mountain Manor as a simpler luthier clan. My maternal grandfather visited them, and so did the vassal ruler of Ying Province. Both of them were very polite to the manor lord, so do you think the city lord would dare to seek trouble for the Silver Moon Mountain Manor for no reason at all?” Long Wanqing explained.
Gu Hai nodded.
“Furthermore, it seems that the manor lord is seeking a destined person for the last heaven-grade zither for some reason. If I remember correctly, that zither is called Ensnaring Performance,” Long Wanqing said.
“Ensnaring Performance? A zither?” Gu Hai felt slightly surprised.
“When news spread, it drew countless grandmasters of the music Dao in the world. That is a heaven-grade zither. The Silver Moon Mountain Manor has made a total of only four heaven-grade zithers. My maternal grandfather and Duke Lu Yang each have one. There was one called Six Fingers, which was given away long ago. This Ensnaring Performance is the last one,” Long Wanqing explained.
“Founding Dynasty, Army Breaker, Six Fingers, and Ensnaring Performance?” Gu Hai pondered this.
“Unfortunately, I am not good with zithers. The venerable has some understanding of it, but he refuses to go,” Long Wanqing said bitterly.
Venerable Liu Nian smiled bitterly as he said, “I understand a little of all four—music, Go, calligraphy, and painting. However, I’m better at painting and only have a superficial understanding of music, Go, and calligraphy. Take Go, for example. I do know how to play Go. However, I would be far inferior to a person who understands the essence of Go, like Division Master Gu.”
“Oh? Venerable Liu Nian specializes in painting?” Gu Hai said, feeling surprised.
“I understand a little of it.” Venerable Liu Nian did not deny it.
“Oh, by the way, Gu Hai, how is your understanding of music?” Long Wanqing asked out of curiosity.
Gu Hai smiled bitterly and replied, “Music? I have heard many pieces. Zither? When I was a businessman, I sold many. I can clumsily play some pieces, but that is just technique and not the Dao. I am far from reaching the threshold of the music Dao. You know that I specialize in Go.”
“That is unfortunate, then. The Silver Moon Mountain Manor is only picking people of the music Dao. It looks like we might not have an opportunity to participate.” Long Wanqing smiled bitterly.
“Hall Master, my Elite Hall might still have a chance to participate. The Wood Division Master, Mu Chenfeng, is skilled with the zither. He might be qualified to participate in the Silver Moon Mountain Manor’s zither bestowing event,” Venerable Liu Nian said after some thought.
“Mu Chenfeng? Humph! He only learned the zither to please my mother back then,” Long Wanqing said with a stiff expression.
Venerable Liu Nian smiled bitterly and argued, “However, his talent can’t be denied, right? Although his music Dao is weaker than your mother’s, it is still the strongest in my Elite Hall.”
Long Wanqing nodded with a frown.
The group continued through the city when they suddenly saw many people gathering outside a shop in the distance.
“That is the World’s Best Zither Pavilion. They claim to have all sorts of zithers in the world. You can find whatever zither you want in that zither pavilion,” Long Wanqing said with a smile.
[TL Note: The term zither here refers to all string instruments rather than just one specific instrument.]
“The World’s Best Zither Pavilion? What a bold name! Do they have heaven-grade zithers?” Gu Hai said in surprise.
“They do, but not for sale.”
“This World’s Best Zither Pavilion is Duke Lu Yang’s enterprise. That Duke Lu Yang’s Army Breaker is a heaven-grade zither. However, it would be impossible to buy it,” Long Wanqing said with a smile.
“Immortal crane carriage, please stop for a while outside the World’s Best Zither Pavilion. Which grandmaster zitherist is promoting the World’s Best Zither Pavilion this time?” Long Wanqing called out.
The driver of the immortal crane carriage slowed down and said, “It is Fairy Waner’s zither music!”
“Fairy Waner?” Gu Hai revealed a slightly bewildered expression.
Just at this moment, the sound of a zither rang out.
Ding! Ding! Ding-dong! Dong! Dong!
The zither music was not loud. However, the people in the surroundings all fell quiet. Countless cultivators closed their eyes, intoxicated by the music.
Gu Hai raised his head and looked over. He saw a white-clad woman on the second floor of the World’s Best Zither Pavilion. She wore a veil and had a flower hairpin stuck in her thick hair. Her arms were slender and fair, and she gave off a transcendent air and fragrance.
Soon, many people stopped paying attention to Fairy Waner’s appearance, as this zither music was too compelling.
Gu Hai gradually became immersed in the music, slowly closing his eyes. He felt like he was in a vast sea of flowers. Then, his mind experienced a feeling of blankness.
He felt extremely comfortable, like all the pores of his body opened up.
At this moment, Gu Hai did not wish to speak. He only wanted to enjoy this feeling of blankness that this zither music brought.
It seemed like his rate of spiritual energy absorption increased severalfold instantly.
Gu Hai’s mind and body relaxed, free of distracting thoughts. As the zither music rang out, he went on a mental journey.
He came back to his senses only after a while.
The instant he returned to himself, his expression changed.
“Incredible zither music!” Gu Hai looked in the direction of the World’s Best Zither Pavilion with a cold expression.
The pavilion balcony was now empty; Fairy Waner had already left.
“What incredible zither music! If there were a battle to the death and I heard this music, wouldn’t I end up getting chopped up by the other party?” Gu Hai’s expression sank.
The other people in the vicinity also slowly came to their senses.
“Fairy Waner’s zither music is indeed incredible. I even entered a meditative state without realizing it,” Long Wanqing sighed.
“Don’t you feel that this is very dangerous?” Gu Hai frowned.
“Dangerous? However, the effect of its baptism on your mind is even greater, right? Many people run into bottlenecks in their cultivation. If they met with a music Dao master and heard him play, many of them could make breakthroughs. Music Dao masters are very well received.” Long Wanqing smiled.
Not far away, a cultivator who had been listening to the music while sitting on the ground suddenly unleashed a shock wave into the surroundings.
“I broke through! I broke through! Many thanks, Fairy Waner! Many thanks, Fairy Waner! I have been stuck at this cultivation for thirty years already. Many thanks!” that cultivator shouted. “Huh? Where did Fairy Waner go?”
The other cultivators started waking up. However, Fairy Waner was already gone, leaving everyone somewhat at a loss.
“The World’s Best Zither Pavilion truly lives up to its reputation. Let’s go in and take a look, see if there are zithers suitable for us!” A group of cultivators entered the zither pavilion.
“Gu Hai, do you see that?” Long Wanqing smiled.
Gu Hai shook his head and said, “In any case, I do not quite like that feeling.”
“Alright. Perhaps you’ll come to enjoy it in the future. Anyhow, the World’s Best Zither Pavilion here frequently invites music Dao masters to come and play. This is the largest zither pavilion in Silver Moon City. Look at the surroundings. The other zither pavilions do not dare to open a shop near it. They simply cannot compete,” Long Wanqing said.
Gu Hai nodded and said, “The World’s Best Zither Pavilion. It is indeed bold and grand. Their advertising effect is pretty good too. However, it’s a little too wasteful.”
“Huh?” Long Wanqing felt confused.
Gu Hai shook his head and did not say anything more. That fell under business and marketing. Even if he explained, Long Wanqing might not understand.
The immortal crane carriage continued flying over the streets.
It came to a stop two hours later.
The immortal crane carriage’s destination was a large region with clouds, fog, and barricades surrounding it. This was a private area. There were many palace halls in this region and a large floating island in the sky above it.
However, a thick fog covered this island, obscuring the interior and maintaining privacy.
At the edge of this region was a huge stele with the words “Xiaoyue Secondary Residence.”
The immortal crane carriage stopped, and a group of men and women rushed over.
“Salutations, Hall Master!” these people said respectfully when they saw Long Wanqing.
“We have arrived. This is the secondary residence my mother set up in the past, a base of my Elite Hall!” Long Wanqing introduced with a smile.
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