The north wind blew gently. It was winter and countless leaves piled up on the ground below the trees. The sky gradually rose and the first ray of sunlight shone across the village. On the footpath between the paddy fields, a lot of farmers were already busy planting seeds.
A boy adjusted his shirt which was made of hemp and continued on his way while carrying a basket of eggs. His face reddened due to the extreme coldness of the weather.
“I’m actually afraid of cold temperature?”
The little boy felt surprised. He kept having the feeling that it had been hundreds of years since the last time he felt cold.
There was a forest of red birch trees within the village and within that forest, there was a thatched cottage which was a private school for children.
Voices of children reciting which were childish and tender could be heard from that old house from far away.
“Immortal at birth, have no nature. Ascending the Heaven’s path, entering the Four Oceans. Beings with massive magic power shan’t be admired. Only beings with strong Dao Heart can walk far…”
The boy stopped in his tracks right outside the school. He did not push open the door but quietly stood still for a while.
What the children were reading aloud was the “Three Character Immortal Classic1” written by the teacher of the school himself.
It was meant to impart rudimentary knowledge to the young children. The boy had already heard this lecture seven times. Every month, his mother would ask him to gift a basket of eggs to the teacher in order to plead him to keep her son as a student. Seven months. Seven times. Each time he came, he would stand outside the school listening to the children’s recitation. Now, he had nearly memorized the entire “Three Character Immortal Classic”.
The boy was certain that his intelligence was not any weaker than the other kids of the village. But unfortunately, the teacher would not accept him no matter what.
“Why? Why does the teacher refuse to keep me as his student…” The boy did not understand. He faintly felt that the reason behind it must be related to the things that he had forgotten.
When the boy appeared outside the school, another child who was around one year younger than him immediately shouted excitedly within the school.
“Mister Purple, Big Brother Ning Fan had come again. This time, Mister must take him into the school considering his sincerity in coming every single month for the past seven months!”
That child who shouted was called Ning Gu. In the Ning Village, Ning Fan had only a handful of friends and he was one of them.
After he spoke, the rest of the children stopped reciting after one another. Their gazes penetrated the casement windows and affixed to Ning Fan who was standing outside.
“Today is the seventh month. But it’s just the seventh day for him. However, he still could not understand why he is unable to enter the school. Without that realization, he is not suitable to remain in this world…”
Within the old cottage, a purple-robed mister faintly smiled.
This man’s hair was long like waterfall. His appearance was handsome. Above his glabella, there was a purple-golden mark which seemed to be imprinted by a burning rock.
“But Mister Purple, Big Brother Ning Fan truly wants to take Mister as his teacher from the bottom of his heart…”
“He is different from the rest of you… Let him stand! As for you, read well…”
The mister gently knocked Ning Gu’s head using the purple-golden flat ruler in his hands with a benevolent and tender look on his face.
He didn’t choose to beat the child’s palm. He would never do such a thing to children.
Providing education to everyone without discrimination. Teaching the young ones with precepts and examples. Never punish or discipline somebody to teach them a lesson. They were the reasons why Mister Purple had become so well-known in the village.
Moreover, rumor has it that even the magistrates from the counties and cities outside of the village would also bow and salute Mister Purple when meeting him.
That man did not yearn for reputation nor benefits. Even so, most of the disciples who listen to his teachings were the government officers of Yue Country.
In the land of Yue Country, Confucianism flourished. Other teachings like Daoism, Mohism, military science, law and so on were also learnt by lots of scholars.
As for what the school of thought conducted by Mister Purple was… it was Purple’s Philosophy.
After being softly admonished by the teacher, Ning Gu touched his head and awkwardly sat down. A brief moment later, the school was filled with the voices of the children reading the “Three Characters Immortal Classic” again.
As for Ning Fan, he grudgingly clenched his fists while standing outside the school.
“He is different from the rest of you… Let him stand!”
Recalling the words uttered by the mister within his mind, Ning Fan gently gnashed his teeth.
I think I’m going to fail again this time…
But why the teacher refuses to keep me? Why am I different from the other kids in this school? Why…
On top of the Dao Asking Cliff, Meng Xuanzi looked at Ning Fan who was standing amidst the purple mist with a frown.
“Today is the seventh day. Countless Peak Nascent Soul Realm would stop at this point of time… I wonder if this kid is able to stride this threshold… In the past, this old man’s illusory realm of the Dao Heart was about marriage. This kid’s seemed to be seeking knowledge… Seeking knowledge, will he be able to obtain any of it…”
Outside the old cottage, Ning Fan had stood there without knowing how much time had passed.
He could not stop pondering the reason why Mister Purple was not going to keep him. Mister Purple said that he was different from the others but he could not figure out in what aspects he was different from the rest of the children.
Gradually, his eyes flashed with a trace of abstruseness. That look on his face did not suit his age at all. In fact, it was not supposed to be on the face of a child.
But at the moment his expression experienced changes, the purple-robed young man within the cottage made a wee smile.
“This kid is starting to awaken…”
Different? Which part of me is different…
Dark clouds began to fill the sky. Eventually, frigid cold rain fell from the clouds in a continuous pattern.
Ning Fan stood below the eaves of the cottage, looking at the raindrops which joined together like chains of pearls. His gaze became even more mysterious. When it reached a certain level afterwards, they began to sparkle with clarity.
“Different. Yes. Of course I’m different from the rest of them… There is no one alike in the world in the first place. The same goes for the rain… Each raindrop is different from each other, not because of their shapes but mainly because of the path they took… The path the other children chose is to learn reading and writing in the Ning Village of Yue Country and then attain the scholarly honors or official ranks by passing the examination to become a government officer. As for me, my aim isn’t really about that… I want to seek for more knowledge and question the Dao but my ultimate purpose isn’t just becoming a government officer in the Yue Country… However, I can’t recall my purpose…”
In the seventh month, Ning Fan finally gained some insights from that mister’s words.
The purple-robed mister’s eyes crinkled, revealing a satisfied smile. He pushed open the door but he did not receive the eggs from Ning Fan. He lifted his hand and patted Ning Fan’s head gently instead.
“Bring this basket of eggs home. Let you mother consume them to replenish her body… As for you, you are now qualified to be enrolled into the school. But before that, there is still one more test…”
“Test?” Ning Fan raised his head, staring at the young man.
“Precisely. A test… My mortal name begins with the surname of Sun. But you don’t have to know about it. My immortal name is Purple Dou… They called me Purple Dou Immortal Sovereign…”
“Purple Dou Immortal Sovereign?!”
Ning Fan staggered a few steps backwards. As the young man’s voice fell, his previous memories came flooding back into his mind like an overflowing river that crushed the embankment.
Yes. I am in the illusory realm to question the Dao…
Yes. This place is the illusory realm…
But the purple-robed young man in front of me is called Purple Dou and he was crowned as the Immortal Sovereign!
All this while, am I seeking knowledge from the Immortal Sovereign?
“May I ask Immortal Sovereign…”
“Call me mister…”
“Yes. May I ask Mister if you are a real being or just an illusion?!” Ning Fan’s eyes turned stern.
“I am neither real nor illusory. In fact, I’m beyond the realm of reality and illusion. I’m at the end of the holy path… The Fourth Step! If you are lucky enough, you will discover it in the future. Now, there is only one thing that you have to do… Go home and show filial piety to your mum. You will only be qualified to attend the school after your mother has a comfortable life. If you can’t be a dutiful son, you aren’t qualified to be a human. If you aren’t qualified to be a human, you will never be qualified to ascend the mountain of Dao and become an immortal… Go now…”
Ning Fan gave him a deep bow and left the place with the basket of eggs being pelted by the rain.
The rain originated from the sky and fell upon the earth. But when the raindrops approached his body, they abnormally altered their routes, avoiding him.
The purple-robed mister’s gaze lingered on Ning Fan who was walking in the rain and nodded his head.
“He is the descendant of Ancient Chaos? He’s really a man of great potential…”
As he was passing through the rain, his head slowly became clear.
In this illusory realm conjured by the purple mist – the Ning Village of Yue Country, he had been staying for seven months already. In the real world, it was just seven days.
The seven days that passed by had caused his magic power to increase to 1085 units from 1015 units. Yes. It was his magic power, not his demon power…
“Spending one month within this realm would be equivalent to increasing 10 units of magic power, huh…”
He remained silent for a moment.
That purple-robed mister is Purple Dou Immortal Sovereign, the expert whom the True Immortals can’t possibly look up to, the teacher of Ancient Chaos Emperor.
But I can’t even discern whether he is a true being or just an illusion due to my current cultivation realm. I’m just so weak that I can’t even distinguish the illusions created by the purple mist…
The only thing that I am able to notice is his poised and graceful demeanor. He told me to learn how to become a human before becoming an immortal. And to become a human, I must first be a dutiful son.
The word “filial piety” is rarely mentioned by anyone in the cultivation world. Moreover, some sects would erase their disciples’ memories immediately after they join them. Even if they can’t wipe out their memories, they will instruct their disciples to abandon their relations in the mortal world…
As for the Immortal Sovereign, comparing to cultivation level, magic power, potential and the comprehension of Dao, he placed much more importance on internal feelings and sentiments.
Thus, he gave me the chance to show filial piety to my mother…
Ning Fan’s felt a hint of warmth within his heart. On the Ten Steps Bridge, he saw his mother’s appearance. In the Bell of Samsara, he saw Zhihe’s previous life. On the Dao Asking Cliff, the Purple Dou Immortal Sovereign now granted him the opportunity to remedy the regrets he had for his mother and Zhihe.
As such, the pain and regrets he experienced in his previous and current mortal life could be fully rectified in this illusory realm.
As such, his heart could become stronger due to the absence of emptiness.
“But is this truly correct…”
Ning Fan buried the thought deeply within his heart.
When he arrived at the bamboo fence outside his house, he stood there and looked at his mother who was busy driving the chicks back to their coop. Secretly, he pointed his finger to the sky and muttered, “Stop!”
“Hmm? It is such a strange rain. It comes and goes so fast… Eh? Fan Er is back! How was it? Did you manage…”
Before Ning Qian could finish her words, her beautiful eyes turned gloomy.
“Why did you bring the eggs back?! You didn’t go to see the teacher, did you?!”
“No. The teacher has already accepted me. However, he said that I am still young and he wanted me to learn how to become a good person first… It was also him who asked me to bring these eggs back.”
“Becoming a good person? Only you? Then why are the other kids who are at the same age as yours could attend the school and study?” Ning Qian asked, feeling skeptical at Ning Fan’s words.
“It’s because I’m different from all of them!” Ning Fan’s eyes flashed with a hint of pride.
In a blink of an eye, eight years passed by.
Within the eight years, Ning Fan had never once mentioned anything about attending the school. He only stayed at home and helped out with the house chores and agriculture activities.
He did everything himself and took up responsibilities for every work. He had never once let Ning Qian feel tired because of overexertion.
He did not try to brag about his work nor did he waver in carrying out his work, just like any common mortal beings that remained quiet and peaceful in Ning Village.
Currently, he was already 16 years old. His body noticeably looked weak and feeble. However, he had managed to open up an excellent farmland which was a hundred mu* wide by himself. Besides, he alone was enough to plough and sow the entire land.
The wealth of his family was sufficient. Gradually, Ning Qian no longer worked anymore. During her free time, she would then hang out with the women of her neighborhood.
Eight years were equivalent to 96 months. In the real world, it was 96 days.
On the ninety-seventh month, a rich man with the surname Wu from the county town had come to Ning Village following a matchmaker. He had come to seek a marriage alliance from the Carpenter Wang for his daughter!
Zhihe was already 14 years old. She grew into a slim and graceful young girl. In fact, she began to grow famous in the Ning Village and the county towns surrounding the village.
Although her family was poor and she would not be chosen by the families of the government officers, there were quite a few local rich men who wanted to marry her as their concubine.
Among them, the rich man Wang had the highest status. His name was Wu Dongnan. His family could barely be considered as a literary family as he attained his scholarly honor using his wealth.
To the villagers, it was a good thing that such a person with high status and abundant wealth would want to marry Zhihe as his concubine. Besides, even Zhihe’s father, Carpenter Wang did not show any signs of rejection.
To Zhihe, however, it was a completely different story. Because of their sudden arrival, she hastily hid in Ning Fan’s house. Her action caused Ning Qian to feel pity for her.
“Auntie Qian, Zhihe doesn’t want to marry that man! I want to marry Brother Fan!”
“Silly girl… That Wu Dongnan has good status and lots of wealth. What’s wrong with him? Why don’t you like him but the poor little boy of my family…”
“Who says Brother Fan is poor? He manages a hundred mu* of fine farmland. He can be regarded as a local rich man too. If I marry him, I can also rely on him to get my good food and good life too!” Zhihe curled her lips in annoyance. But her words made Ning Qian simmer with laughter.
In this girl’s mind, is marrying Ning Fan equivalent to having a new money bag…
However, Ning Qian knew that this silly girl didn’t like Ning Fan because of his money. Otherwise, why didn’t she marry Wu Dongnan who was way richer than her son? Instead, how would she still hang out in their house without being concerned about her own reputation and integrity.
“Silly girl. You are really blinded by love… Fine. Let’s wait for Fan Er to return. Then I will instruct him to prepare gifts to make a proposal for marriage to your family! As for Mister Wang, if he still pesters you and creates troubles, I will come up with some ideas to handle him.”
“It doesn’t need to be so troublesome…”
The shadow of Ning Fan riding on a cow loomed at the doorstep. His hand held a whip made of willow and his long hair hung down loosely. Even though he was wearing a shirt made of hemp, he seemed to be floating in the air like a celestial being.
“Wu Dongnan will never dare to create troubles in front of me. He won’t!”
“Zhihe is my wife and no one can lay a finger on her!”
On the ninety-seventh day, Meng Xuanzi’s eyes had never been so focused before.
In the past, ninety days was my limit. I was then stopped from comprehending the Dao.
Is this Ning Fan able to stay longer than 97 days and surpasses me?!
What was difficult to understand for Meng Xuanzi was the purple mist that was coiling around Ning Fan’s body. It would occasionally give out rays of purple-golden light.
In fact, the rays of purple-golden light carried a trace of immense aura force which stirred the false feeling within Meng Xuanzi to prostrate himself in worship.
“How strong exactly is that purple mist? What is the level of that immortal’s prestige… Don’t tell me it belongs to the Immortal Sovereign!”
Purple Dou Immortal Sovereign!
Translated by Tommy, edited by Roel
1. The “Three Character Immortal Class” are as follows in literal translations.
仙之初(xiān zhī chū)(an immortal at birth)，姓本无(xìng běn wú)(has no nature)，
登天路(dēng tiān lù)(ascending Heaven’s path)，入海图(rù hǎi tú)(entering ocean map)，
法力广(fǎ lì guǎng)(magic power powerful)，非可慕(fēi kě mù)(shan’t be admired)，
道心坚(dào xīn jiān)(strong Dao Heart)，方可瞩(fāng kě zhǔ)(only can look far)
2. Measurement :
a. li (里) = 500 m
b. zhang(丈) = 3.13 m
c. chi(尺) = 30.7 cm
d. cun(寸) = 3.33cm
e. mu (亩) = 0.0667 hectares
“Grasping Evil” is being translated on Veratales (Click here) but Liberspark (Click here) is hosting the chapters as well. You are encouraged to read on veratales.com for project updates. :)
Some phrases or expressions of the original are changed for ease of reading.
If a mistake or mistakes were found in this chapter, feel free to comment below.
Some terms are subject to change when better suggestions are selected.
All the internal monologues will be in italic form.