Chapter 64: My Name Is Cang Xu

Cang Xu nodded slightly and went silent for a while, seemingly deliberating his words.

Thereafter, he spoke in a desolate tone: “My name is Cang Xu, I was born into a peasant family and was once a peasant.”

“I began working when I was five or six. My primary job was cleaning up horse manure. Our family had a pony that was mainly used to pull a plow.”

“Once when I was cleaning up horse manure, the horse suddenly became angry and kicked me with its hind hooves. I fell into the excrement and almost suffocated to death. Although I was luckily saved, the brush with death filled my young heart with fear that I could not dispel for a long time.”

“I became very timid and was afraid of any kind of horse or even horse-shaped things. I didn’t even dare approach stables. My parents arranged other work for me, yet I still cowered and hid at the slightest disturbance.”

“Naturally my peers ridiculed me, I was alienated, and my parents were disgusted with me, and everyone in the village was not optimistic about my future.”

“After a long time, I realized that my fear was perhaps not fear of horses, but rather a fear of the peasant life itself.”

“Shame had made me lonely and loneliness made me reflect. The gift of fate was at first bitter but later sweet, for it had allowed me to fear living as a peasant for my entire life.”

“Fortune came. When I was eight, I saw the aurora of my destiny. A Horse god church’s chaplain came to our village wanting to build a church. The village did not have a church and everyone hoped that when they fell sick, a chaplain could treat them. Hence, the villagers voluntarily organized and built a Horse god church for free. Amongst all of the volunteers, I worked the hardest. I tried my best to ingratiate myself with the chaplain, I desperately showed my faith in the Horse god, in an attempt to curry favor with the chaplain.”

“The chaplain was very fond of younglings my age. During his spare time, he would gather over a dozen children, including me, to teach us arithmetics, the written language, and other knowledge.”

“Spring passed and autumn came, after the church had been successfully built, the chaplain made an announcement.”

“He wanted to select a few volunteers to work under him. He even wanted to recruit two children as apprentice chaplains.”

“They weren’t idiots, thus, the villagers rushed madly like ducks towards grain.1 The status of clergymen was far greater than that of peasants. Families with children of appropriate age were even more crazed.” 

“I wanted to desperately become an apprentice chaplain. I knew that it might be the only chance I had to change the destiny of my life, and for this, I would even put my life on the line!”

“The competition was intense.”

“I relied on my hard work and previous assiduousness to get into the final selection. There were four of us altogether, but only two would be inducted as apprentice chaplains. The other three were children of rich landlords in the village with one even being the child of the village chief. In order to increase their hopes of success, they used their power and wealth to oppress my family and coerce my parents to make me concede of my own volition.”

“My family was nearly ostracized to death and struggled each day to barely survive, suffering tremendously. Of course, when my parents came to persuade me, I refused and almost broke my relationship with them.”

“I risked everything to participate in the final assessment. However, I lost.”

“My childhood shadow still loomed over my heart and I still feared horses. Towards the Horse god, I only had fear, with no love or respect.”

“I could not believe in him despite my best efforts.”

“The Horse god chaplain was wise, but also equally ruthless. Despite me kneeling to the ground and pleading with him, he still eliminated me.”

“I was lost and felt that my life was bleak and meaningless. That evening, I walked down the street in a daze with the surrounding villagers ridiculing me. I did not know how I returned home, and I had no will to eat anything.”

“In the following period, my father beat and scolded me while my mother reprimanded me for my presumptuous thoughts. Even though my family were free citizens because my father had a serious illness, our household situation was terrible and we had no choice but to cultivate the land of others and then pay rent. There was no difference between us and the serfs. However, because of me, the other villagers did not rent us their surplus fields.”

“In order to punish me, my parents gave me a heavy workload. Every day, my exhausted body would sleep on the haystack.”

“Punishment and failure did not make me admit defeat, nor did the ridicule and alienation make me despair. I became more and more unwilling, and this unwillingness gradually changed into resentment. Although I was in low spirits for many days, I quickly inspired myself. The biggest thing I did was reviewing the knowledge I learnt from the chaplain.”

“I was only free during the evening. During the day, I had to get up early in the morning. If I didn’t finish the work my parents gave to me, I wouldn’t even get a piece of black bread.”

“Despite being extremely fatigued every day, I never gave up on studying at night. The things the chaplain taught me, I memorized and deeply engraved in my heart. Even now, I can still clearly remember every piece of knowledge. I treasured them, valued them, as if they were the precious hope of my life. They were my resistance against my fate!”

“Then one night, the Horse god chaplain quietly came over to my haystack and woke me up from my sleep.”

“I was startled and delighted, thinking, are things taking a turn for the better? I immediately knelt to the ground and swore loudly to the chaplain that I would do my utmost to believe in the Horse god and remove all the fears deep inside my heart.”

“But the Horse god chaplain shook his head and said: ‘The Horse god does not demand faith.’ The reason why he found me was because he discovered how I lived and had been secretly watching me. My striving and thirst at all costs for scholarly knowledge had moved him.”

“The Horse god chaplain gave me a new choice. If I served as his slave, he would pass on the knowledge I wanted, as for my future, it would depend on my own efforts.”

“I convinced my parents to sell me off.”

“Of course, it was mainly because the Horse god chaplain used many coins to purchase me.”

“The chaplain did not deceive me, he even treated me better than I thought he would. He even kept the transaction a secret and allowed me to serve as a servant in the church. I did my best to serve him diligently each day, and he imparted precious knowledge to me. I gained a greater understanding of arithmetics, literature, astronomy, and geography.”

“Amongst all that I gained, the most precious thing was the Horse god chaplain’s inquisitiveness of knowledge and his assiduous attitude. This attitude influenced my entire life.”

After saying this, Cang Xu paused for a moment. The long narration had left him breathless.

Cang Xu continued once more: “The competition of religious beliefs is sometimes more intense than wars. The Horse god originates from the Wilderness Continent and is a god of the beastmen race. In the Shen Ming Continent, this god’s influence is very small. So as the Church of Life was proselytized, belief in the Horse god wavered and was quickly crushed without competition.”2

“The Horse god chaplain was forced to leave. Before leaving, he relieved me of my slave status and announced that I had regained my freedom. In addition, he also suggested that I continue to seek knowledge.”

“I went to Silver Bridge College and participated in its examination. The Horse god chaplain’s teachings gave me a solid academic foundation, thus, I smoothly passed the exam and became a poor college student. After three years, I swimmingly graduated from college and became a scholar.”

“I held a teaching position for three years at Silver Bridge College and then relied on faculty contacts to become a minor noble’s manager.”

“Afterwards, I circulated between many nobles and held small positions that supervised the fief.”

“I was not a noble, nor was I a noble servant nurtured from childhood, but most importantly, I did not have a natural aptitude for cultivation. Because of these reasons, I repeatedly suffered contempt, alienation, and could never hold a high position.”

“After five years passed in such a manner, an opportunity appeared in front of me.”

“A rebellion broke out in a village and the tax collector official sent there was killed. The manager in charge of levying taxes hid the details and was fearful his lord would discover it, he offered a large sum of money to the person that could successfully collect the taxes.”

“I knew the villagers well and believed that this was an opportunity, so I volunteered to go.”

“I was hung up, beaten, locked in a cell, and continuously tortured.”

“Just as they were about to kill me, they asked if I had any final words.”

“I smiled, merely shook my head, and did not say a word.”

“This confused the villagers.”

“I informed them that I was their friend and never had any enmity towards them. I was there to save them. If they complied and paid their taxes, then the manager would act as if it never happened. If they chose not to, then knights would come and eliminate them.”

“The villagers became afraid, all of them knew that they could never resist the knights. But if they paid their taxes, all of their stockpiled food would be collected and they would starve to death.”

“I lied and told them that the manager had secretly lowered the tax payments. If they paid taxes, they would still have enough grain to survive. However, they needed to maintain strict confidentiality, else other villages and towns would try to imitate them.”

“The villagers talked it over and agreed. I secretly made up the deficiency and then reported that the taxes had been paid.”

“In doing so, I received the manager’s favor and was finally promoted.”

“I occupied a position of power and at first, no one thought highly of me. They believed that I was extremely feeble, that I was only a simple scholar, and that one assassination could end my life. But in reality, I held the position for over thirty years.”

“My position gave me an opportunity to perform. My erudition allowed me to display my value and gradually formed a deep impression on the feudal lord.”

“During this process, I never gave up my pursuit of knowledge. It was precisely because of my constant acquisition of new knowledge that my value continued to grow more and more.”

“Although the Horse god chaplain had left early in my life, his spirit of pursuing knowledge had already fused with my blood.”

“I previously thought that I would always serve the feudal lord until my death, however, fate once again had a new plan in store for me.”

“As time passed, I was growing older and older, this allowed others to see opportunities. At the same time, I loved pursuing knowledge more than power and tried my best to avoid internal factional struggles of the fiefdom, this made those in power dissatisfied.”

“They incited a youngster.”

“He was called Lan Tu and he daydreamed all day of becoming a knight. He was my most trusted aide and assistant. After being seduced by the feudal lord’s third young miss, the youngster decided to betray me.”

“He accused me and claimed that I was a dangerous criminal who had been hiding for many years, that I had malice towards the fief and the feudal lord’s entire family, and that I had been secretly conspiring against them.”

“In order to preserve my life, I could only escape. The youngster smoothly succeeded my position and was recruited by the third lady.”

“The act of absconding in fear of the crime served only to undoubtedly confirm the youngster’s accusation. At the beginning of my escape, I felt very sorrowful, angry, and drowned in all kinds of negative emotions that I could not extricate myself from.”

“After a long time, I got over it.”

“Destiny had given me a new path.”

“I asked myself, I am already so old, there was not much time left, so how should I spend what remained of my life? Finally, I decided to seek after what I truly yearned for, knowledge. Of all the knowledge, the thing that interested me most was the field of biology. I wanted to have an academic accomplishment, I wanted to write a book with all of my abilities to expound on the profundities of life.”

“Soon, the arrest warrant for me propagated. I was not surprised. I had served the feudal lord’s family, held a key position, and knew many secrets. The feudal lord’s family would not let me off so easily.”

“I could not continue staying in the Sheng Ming Continent, I had no choice but to embark towards the beastmen continent. The Wilderness Continent just happened to have many unique ecologies that would be of great aid in completing my academic work.”

“Lord Zhen Jin, I am an old codger who bears an arrest warrant. If you recruit me, the Sha Ta Clan will undoubtedly become your enemy. This is the reason why I refused your previous offer.”

“The reason why I have grasped the method of taming the explosive hoof blazing horse is because more than half of the technique originated from the Horse god chaplain. The remaining portion was completed through thirty years of my experimentation.”

“This is my story.”

“Quite marvelous.” Zhen Jin exclaimed in admiration.

Cang Xu smiled: “Many thanks for your praise my Lord, it is a lifelong honor that your Lordship listened to me. I have already completed half of my academic work, all stored in my mind, concurrently, I have also hidden a copy in the Sha Ta Clan’s territory.”

“This incomplete half of the work is hidden in the prison cell of the ruins of a certain village. That is the place where I was once tortured. It is in a brick under the iron manacles.”

“This is my final wish—if I die here, I ask that you give the incomplete work to Lan Tu. Of course, your Lordship can thumb through and collect it, if it is of use to you, I would also be greatly honored.”

Zhen Jin furrowed his brows and inevitably felt doubtful.

“Lan Tu?” Zi Di had awoken at an unbeknown juncture, “If I did not mishear, isn’t Lan Tu the youngster who framed you?”

“Yes, Miss Zi Di, you heard correctly.”

Cang Xu’s face showed a complex expression of bleakness, sadness, and a trace of pain and hope.

He then said: “It is because that youngster is my son.”