In a large plaza on Silver Moon Island, Silver Moon Sea:
The plaza was a large lawn. After the zitherists exchanged pleasantries, they sat down cross-legged and looked at the nearby thatched hut.
Gu Hai’s group also found a spot and sat down.
Many zitherists entered the grassy plaza one after another.
“He is here.” Long Wanqing frowned.
Gu Hai, Venerable Liu Nian, and Shangguan Hen looked over while frowning. They saw City Lord He Shikang enter the plaza, with Lu An and the golden-saber-bearing Fang Minghou beside him.
“Lu An is with him. Shall we contact City Lord He later?” Venerable Liu Nian said in a low voice.
Long Wanqing nodded.
Nearby, when Lu An and his companions entered, they immediately saw Gu Hai’s group. When he saw Gu Hai, depression shadowed his eyes.
“Is Lu An’s music Dao also very incredible?” Gu Hai asked, feeling curious.
“How can that be? He is here because of his identity as Duke Lu Yang’s direct grandson. That’s why he can come. City Lord He is also here because of his status. City Lord He can bring out the music Dao’s artistic conception, but it is definitely incredibly weak,” Long Wanqing said while shaking her head.
Gu Hai nodded.
City Lord He, Lu An, and the others sat down. After that, the number of people entering dwindled.
Just at this moment, a white-clad man sauntered over.
“Mister Gu is already here? Greetings, Mister Gu!” the white-clad man said with a smile.
Gu Hai immediately recognized this white-clad man. This was the first person to buy a piano, Sima Changkong.
“So, it is Mister Sima,” Gu Hai said with a faint smile.
“Greetings, Hall Master Long! Greetings, Venerable Liu Nian! It has been a long time,” Sima Changkong said with a faint smile.
“You are?” Long Wanqing felt slightly confused.
However, Venerable Liu Nian’s expression suddenly changed. “It’s you, Sima Changkong?”
“Venerable Liu Nian, I am here on an official mission. Please don’t reveal my identity.” Sima Changkong smiled at Venerable Liu Nian.
Venerable Liu Nian appeared uncertain, but he eventually nodded.
“In that case, this humble one will go over there. I wish everyone good luck.” Sima Changkong smiled.
“Alright.” Gu Hai smiled back faintly while nodding.
After Sima Changkong left, Long Wanqing asked curiously, “Huh? Venerable Liu Nian, you know Mister Sima?”
Venerable Liu Nian frowned slightly and said, “He nearly became the top scholar of the previous examinations.”
“Oh? The Qian Heavenly Dynasty’s top scholar?” Long Wanqing said in surprise.
“Nearly. Back then, his submission surpassed all the other candidates All the examiners thought he would definitely seize the top spot, becoming the top scholar of that cycle. Unfortunately, he wrote something that angered His Holy Eminence during the palace examinations, and got chased out of the examination hall. Hence, he failed to become the top scholar,” Venerable Liu Nian explained.
“However, he was still a successful candidate in the end. Although he got chased out of the examination hall, he still received an official post in the Qian Heavenly Dynasty, just not as prestigious as what he might have gotten if he had become the top scholar. He is not an easy person to deal with.” Venerable Liu Nian frowned.
[TL Note: The imperial examinations took place in several rounds at various levels, like the city level, the provincial level, and so on. The palace examination was the highest level, taking place in the imperial palace. For a candidate to reach that level, they would have scored well in the various previous examinations. Typically, such candidates could already be considered successful and be recruited into the government.]
Gu Hai frowned as he looked at the nearby Sima Changkong. He nearly became the Qian Heavenly Dynasty’s top scholar?
Just as Gu Hai looked at Venerable Liu Nian, he suddenly sensed a murderous intent.
Gu Hai turned his head and saw Fairy Waner sitting in a corner, looking at him coldly as though she wanted to tear him to shreds.
Gu Hai smiled in that direction.
The friendly smile looked like mockery to Fairy Waner.
“Humph! Gu Hai, this is not over. I will expose you. You cheat, you have no music Dao’s artistic conception at all, yet you put on such a pretense. Swindler. Humph!” Fairy Waner muttered to herself.
A soft sound rang out from the nearby thatched hut.
Everyone’s expression immediately turned solemn as they stopped speaking and looked at the thatched hut.
“Friends who are not here to participate in the zither bestowal event, the Silver Moon Sea will be sealed in a while. If you do not leave now, you will be unable to do so for a while. When the zither bestowal event ends, it will be unsealed,” an aged voice came from the thatched hut.
The voice spread out all over Silver Moon Island, then the entire Silver Moon Sea.
Right now, many cultivators outside Silver Moon Island observed the situation from the Silver Moon Sea. When they heard the manor lord’s voice, they frowned. However, determination flashed in their eyes, an unwillingness to leave.
The thatched hut’s door crept open.
Then, a white-clad old man slowly appeared. This old man moved extremely slowly. His face was raddled with age spots, and his hair appeared dry and shriveled. Yun Mo immediately rushed forward to support the old man.
“Greetings, Silver Moon Mountain Manor Lord!”
“Greetings, Silver Moon Mountain Manor Lord!”
The surrounding zitherists saluted him respectfully.
The Silver Moon Mountain Manor Lord?
Yun Mo supported the old manor lord as they made their way to the door. Then, the old man sat down cross-legged on the grass. He held a guqin on the verge of rotting in his hand.
When the old man looked around, he suddenly noticed Gu Hai, immediately recognizing him.
“Mister Gu, this old man likes your Canon a lot!” The manor lord smiled as he looked at Gu Hai.
“Gu Hai is embarrassed. It’s good that Manor Lord likes it,” Gu Hai said with a smile.
“This old man is already old and enjoys listening to pieces of different styles. Haha!” the manor lord laughed softly.
Everyone remained quiet.
The Silver Moon Mountain Manor disciples sat beside the manor lord, accompanying him.
The manor lord looked at the surrounding crowd. Then, he took a deep breath and said, “Everyone, this old man has lived a long time, and my lifespan is coming to an end. I might die after this zither bestowal event, so this old man has a request of everyone here.”
“Manor Lord, please speak!” everyone said.
“This is the Silver Moon Mountain Manor’s young manor lord, Yun Mo. He is a direct descendant of Teacher Yinyue. When I am no longer around, I hope that everyone will take care of him. Yun Mo is whom I worry about the most, now that this old man is about to die. Hah,” the manor lord sighed.
“Manor Lord, you will be fine!” Yun Mo choked up a little, and his eyes turned bloodshot.
“Manor Lord, rest assured. As long as the young manor lord does not give up, we will do our best to help with whatever requests he has.”
“Manor Lord, rest assured!”
“Young Master Lord Yun Mo’s matters are our matters!”
The manor lord smiled faintly and nodded. “That’s good. I invited everyone here today to decide the ownership of the last heaven-grade zither that my Silver Moon Mountain Manor made, Ensnaring Performance, which is one of Teacher Yinyue’s consummate works. This old man is incapable and failed to make a heaven-grade zither. However, the young manor lord, Yun Mo, is different. Although his talent in music is somewhat weaker, he is better than me at making zithers. Perhaps one day, he can reach Teacher Yinyue’s heights and create a heaven-grade zither.”
“Oh?” The eyes of the surrounding zitherists suddenly lit up.
Yun Mo? Previously, no one paid any attention to him. Before how brightly the manor lord shone, Yun Mo appeared extremely dim. However, things would be different if Yun Mo could make heaven-grade zithers. It would be fine if one could obtain Ensnaring Performance today. However, if one could not, perhaps if one befriended Yun Mo, one might…
“Manor Lord, rest assured. With us around, no one will dare to bully the Silver Moon Mountain Manor!”
“Indeed. If Young Manor Lord Yun Mo runs into any trouble, he may directly call on me for help!”
Everyone immediately looked at Yun Mo with a fervent gaze.
However, Yun Mo did not look at anyone. Instead, he looked at the manor lord with bloodshot eyes.
The manor lord gazed at the approximately six hundred zitherists around and smiled faintly. “The people here are from the Qian Heavenly Dynasty, and there are some from other places. All of you came for Ensnaring Performance. This old man will not drag this out any longer. It is time for you to meet Ensnaring Performance.”
After the manor lord spoke, a group of Silver Moon Mountain Manor disciples got up. With a wave of their hands, they tore apart the thatched hut. Moving the pieces of the thatched hut away, they revealed a circular altar in the center.
“Where is the heaven-grade zither Ensnaring Performance?” some of the zitherists asked in confusion.
The nearby altar shone a faint blue light on a purple-clad man on the altar.
This purple-clad man seemed to be an ordinary youth with a face that looked as smooth as jade. He had sharp eyebrows and an extremely baleful look. A golden birthmark in the shape of lightning on his forehead made him look even more domineering.
Faint breathing sounds came from the purple-clad man as he sat there quietly, appearing to be regulating his energy or sleeping, not moving at all.
Aside from this purple-clad man, there was nothing else.
“Where is the heaven-grade zither? Where is Ensnaring Performance?” Everyone looked at the manor lord in confusion.
The manor lord smiled faintly and said, “This is the heaven-grade zither that Teacher Yinyue forged, Ensnaring Performance!”
“Huh?” The zitherists felt slightly surprised.
“What do you mean? Where is the zither?”
“How come I don’t see it?”
“Indeed. Have I gone blind? Is this zither transparent?”
“Could it be transparent and in front of that purple-clad man?”
The crowd appeared confused.
Not far away, Fairy Waner, Sima Changkong, and some other zitherists fell extremely silent as they stared at the purple-clad man.
“This…this is Ensnaring Performance?” Sima Changkong said, a trace of terror flashing in his eyes.
“Where?” Everyone looked at Sima Changkong.
“He is the one. This purple-clad man is Ensnaring Performance?” Sima Changkong said in shock.
“Huh?” Everyone felt shocked.
This person is a zither? You must be joking!
“That’s right. This is the heaven-grade zither that Teacher Yinyue forged, Ensnaring Performance. This is just its appearance!” the manor lord said seriously.
“Making a person? Did Teacher Yinyue create a person? The music Dao can create souls. Was Teacher Yinyue trying to create a person using it?” someone exclaimed.
Everyone inhaled sharply.
The manor lord smiled faintly and said, “It cannot be considered a person. It is just a heaven-grade zither. This is its outer appearance. Nevertheless, as you said, it has a soul. However, its soul is temporarily separated. The soul will be infused when this heaven-grade zither is unsealed.”
Everyone suddenly turned silent.
Gu Hai looked at the purple-clad man breathing on the altar. He would never have imagined that it was a zither.
Ensnaring Performance? Gu Hai had imagined many shapes and forms previously. However, he never imagined that this was what Ensnaring Performance looked like. To think that it was human-shaped. Was this still a zither?
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