Nine Astra Skies Chapter 40

Chapter 40: The Dao

"Oh, I get it now. By 'Absolute Martial Truth', you were referring to my understanding of the martial arts!" Ye Chen finally understood his granduncle. He did not know that there was an actual word for the state he had attained until his granduncle had put a name on it.

He gave a brief thought and began, "The truth I've come to be enlightened to was the Dao.*" (TN: Dao mainly means "the path,""the way," and/or "order; law.")

There was a stunned silence followed by a puzzled chorus of "D-Dao?"

"Yes. The Dao. The phenomenal universe that we are a part of is just connections arisen from the Dao; the way of mankind and the way of the heavens. Everything is based on the Dao, yet nothing deviates from it," Ye Chen explained. "Our existence adheres to a predetermined order just as everything else in the universe. The Dao implicitly informs our actions and influences the path of our lives, yet despite its universal presence, the Dao has often eluded our awareness."

Ye Chen was careful to choose words that were easier to understand. However, since Ye Chen realized the truth from within himself, he was unable to express his realization through lengthy explanations. Perhaps he would never truly be able to explain the Dao properly without writing an entire dissertation on it. Besides, at that point, Ye Chen had only a glimpse of the entire ocean of what the Dao truly was.

The crowd was puzzled and stared at each other, then turned their attention to the most knowledgeable among themselves. Unfortunately, Ye Changxuan looked as clueless as they were.

The Martial Truth obtained by Emperor Mingwu was at least something as concrete as the concept of "conquest"; so, what exactly was the Dao?

'Was the Dao a kind of martial arts as well? It couldn't be, could it? How exactly did beings come to existence from, well, martial arts?'

The things Ye Chen had just explained sounded more like a spiritual philosophy regarding men, gods, and heavens than anything that had to do with cultivation and martial arts.

"I'll admit it, I don't think any of us understood what you just said, Chen. Perhaps never in our life." Ye Changxuan gave an uneasy smile. What Ye Chen said simply sounded too difficult and mysterious to wrap their heads around.

Dao as a concept was never detailed or written in any book in this world. Hence, it seemed that no one else in the world would even consider the concept.

"Hmm, how about if I put it this way? Emperor Mingwu understood the Dao in the form of 'imperial conquest', which I supposed is correct in a way, but that understanding is one of the least encouraged aspects of Dao," Ye Chen tried again, trying to place his own understanding with the only other example they had.

Still, everyone, including the more knowledgeable of them, Ye Changxuan was still perplexed. Ye Chen was starting to think that the more he tried to explain what he knew, the less they seemed to understand. After all, here the young man was, telling them that not only was the eminent Emperor's Absolute Martial Truth was just another aspect of the Dao, but also one of the most inferior aspects of it as well.

Ye Changxuan and the rest were in a daze. Emperor Mingwu was one of the most prodigious savants the entire Xiwu Empire had ever witnessed. He had attained Celestial Chi Ninth Stage at the tender age of thirteen before subsequently becoming the model and example of martial arts in the entire empire by the age of twenty-one.

Then, coupled with the rumor that once a cultivator had obtained their personal Absolute Martial Truth, their cultivation speed would skyrocket in ways the average person would never be able to comprehend. It meant that after a decade the Emperor's enlightenment, could he only have reached an unfathomable level at that point even if he was not already at the level of a god!

Yet, Ye Chen had just boldly claimed that the Emperor's Absolute Martial Truth was inferior.

Was this Dao thing, that was revealed to the young man, something even more powerful? Something of a different dimension when compared to the earthly philosophy of "conquest"?

Although they were still too baffled to make sense of it all, the seniors had a feeling that Ye Chen's claim was believable.

Seeing that his audience was still lost despite his best effort, Ye Chen retreated in silence. In life, it takes a tremendous stroke of fortune to find a confidante who was on the same wavelength and spoke the same language as yourself. It would take even more to meet that special someone and have a lively discussion with them on such topics.

"Alright, I don't think I'm exaggerating to suggest that absolutely no one in this room really got what you were saying, Chen," Ye Changxuan said as he broke the silence.

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"I know one thing for sure, it was a blessing to have attained your personal Absolute Martial Truth." He continued, "Although we don't have the knowledge to teach you further regarding the matters of cultivation, you must believe in your truth with determination and confidence because the path ahead of you will be a lonely one."

Although he said so on the outside, the truth was that the old man feared that his head was going to explode if he dwelled on the subject any longer. He could still feel his head spinning

He was not alone. Everyone else in the hall was about to have a migraine of their own too.

"It can only be a good thing for one to attain Absolute Martial Truth, isn't it?" Ye Zhantian remarked, masking his own feeling of embarrassment. He was Ye Chen's father, comparing his son's ability to himself, the old-timer could not even reach one-tenth of his son's intellect and prowess. Ye Zhantian was going to be upfront about it, it was pretty embarrassing for a father!

However, he did feel very proud of his son's achievement.

"Let us go back to the more pressing issues at hand," Ye Changxuan said, steering their attention to the importance of the event that had yet to come. "Specifically, the Grand Martial Tournament of the Eighteen Houses."

At this juncture, what mattered most was their strategy in countering any scheme that the House of Yun may have come up with.

"Regardless of any circumstances or reasons, Chen is not to go to the House of Yun!" Ye Zhanlong and the others cried out unanimously. "He's the light of the House of Ye's future! We cannot jeopardize his life at all!"

"But Granduncle! Father! Please" Ye Chen protested frantically, afraid that his uncles' decisions would be final.

Ye Changxuan remained calm as he studied the young man before declaring, "The boy has every right and required skill to go. He had already proven that he is as good as a mid-Eighth Stage fighter. Besides, the boy had attained his personal Absolute Martial Truth, hadn't he? He would have no problem taking care of himself."

"B-but Uncle!" Ye Zhanlong was the one who was frantic now. "That is like sending him straight into the lion's den! If Yun Yiyang ever found out, the consequences would be very dire!"

Ye Changxuan shook his head with a reassuring smile. "I don't necessarily see it that way. You see, the House of Yun had watched the House of Ye for a long time with terrible intentions, yet they had never really acted on their wicked greed. Why is that? It's because they had been busy with the preparations for the upcoming Grand Martial Tournament!"

"Of course, the tournament itself was never the top of their priority." He continued, "Their focus was on the Master Apothecary, Xuanyi, as well as his intention to take a new protg from the Donglin County. However, due to the Master Apothecary's prestige, he would not have come to the county himself and would dispatch one of his own disciples as his representative to observe and report to him instead. This was why the House of Yun had been withdrawing their desires and I believe that they would maintain their facade during the tournament as well. With that in mind, I'm sure the tournament itself would be safe for us."

"Now, regarding the journey to-and-fro from the House of Ye to the House of Yun, I have already made a plan to make sure that we'll be safe. The distance between our House and theirs has always been short after all, so we could make it without Yun Yiyang ever noticing us. However, with the possibility of a wide range of possible threats from the Yuns, we must lessen the number of people attending the Tournament!"

The crowd fell into a thoughtful silence.

"Sounds like you already have an adequate plan. Is that correct, Uncle?" The seniors murmured as they turned to Ye Changxuan in anticipation.

"As a matter of fact, I very well do. The rest of you stay and defend the castle. Only I will accompany Ye Chen."

"Just the two of you?!" The crowd cried out in horror.

"My plan is tailored precisely for the two of us. It doesn't matter who would act as Master Xuanyi's representative; every House would be bringing their brightest junior with them. I'm sure that Chen would be able to make a mark and actually garner the Master Apothecary's disciple's attention but if we were to bring an entire entourage with us, it might distract them from seeing Chen at all," Ye Changxuan explained. "If you're still fearful that they might ambush, then perhaps you could arrange some of our clansmen to act as our protection when we are on our journey to return."

Ye Zhantian and the rest pondered on the old man's suggestion. Their uncle was already at the mid-Ninth Stage, which was the exact same stage as the Lord Yun Yiyang. Meanwhile, Ye Chen had shown himself to be capable of fighting a Mid-Eighth Stage fighter, so even if he was unfortunate enough to come across Yun Yixuan on his way, the young man would still be able to flee in the worst-case scenario.

Besides, Ye Chen was equipped with Explosive Seeds as well...

"Alright. Sounds like a plan!"

Ye Chen was elated. His granduncle had just succeeded in overturning his uncles and father's decision!

"Chen! Behave yourself and don't act arrogant in the House of Yun!" Ye Zhantian warned sternly, his eyes boring into the young man's face.

"Understood, Father!" Ye Chen quickly dampened his look of excitement before answering as seriously as possible.

"Good. Off you go now." Ye Zhantian waved his hand in dismissal.

On cue, the young man strutted out of the hall at a lively pace.

It was long after the young man had left when Ye Zhantian finally shuffled closer to Ye Changxuan and mumbled, "Uncle, did you even understand a single thing that boy had just rambled on about that Dao or whatchamacallit? I had been thinking hard about it since the moment he talked about it, yet I still don't get it until now!"

"Please, do you think I do?" Ye Changxuan smiled helplessly. "I reckon you might find more information by rummaging through those old books in the family vault. Maybe one of them would mention it."

"I've read almost every book there, Uncle, yet I've never come across this Dao thing. I don't even know what the source of Chen's inspiration could be," Ye Zhantian replied a little sourly.

"He is a martial art genius, after all. I'm very sure that's how geniuses work. They are simply different from average people like us. Who knows? He might have just got inspired by the way he eats or the way he walks."

"The thing is When Chen was lecturing us about that Dao thing, I couldn't even make a single comment about it; not even once! What happens if he starts explaining it again next time? Am I supposed to just leave my mouth agape with nothing to add? How am I going to keep up with my fearsome, respectful role as a father?" Ye Zhantian grumbled.

"Well, I can't help you with that one!" Ye Changxuan chortled. Seeing how talented Ye Chen was as well as how fast he advanced in his cultivation, it was going to be a challenge to continue that high-and-mighty father image for Ye Zhantian!

Seeing the grown man's embarrassment of being one-upped by his own son, the seniors could not help but burst out laughing.

'The Grand Martial Tournament is happening on the day after tomorrow. I need to get prepared.'

Once Ye Chen left the clan's meeting hall, he headed to the in-house blacksmith where Uncle Ye Moyuan worked to collect any new casings for his Explosive Seeds. Adding them to the one he had reserved from his last fight, Ye Chen had five Explosive Seeds in total with him now.

The process of making a single casing for an Explosive Seed had not been easy, yet Uncle Ye Moyuan had always made sure to invest some effort into making them. Unfortunately, the quantities that could be made had always been lacking due to the difficulty of crafting a single casing.

Anyway, an unskilled user could cause a disaster with just a single Explosive Seed. That was why Ye Chen had decided that he should not let anyone else possess the Explosive Seeds. Their existence would easily attract the interest or wrath of enemies, on top of being an incredibly dangerous item on its own. Ye Chen had to mentally remind himself to be extra careful when using them.

Once he had returned to his residence, Ye Chen filled his new casings with gunpowder before tucking them safely into his Heaven-Earth Pouch. He was sure that they would be useful during critical moments.

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