Chapter 371: “Unknown Literati” Mi Fu

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Towards the autumn eastern thousand li of the Wu Pavilion, song roams bygone years.

There are no hoofprints in the mossy temple, many restaurants are along the Green River Bridge.1

Cangwu Star Field, Run Province.2

Cangwu Star Field flourished with literature. There were many calligraphy works, especially in Run Province. In this ten million mu area, there were countless restaurants, parks, and ink stands. Entering the city, practically every home hung a couplet on its door, and steles with writings and inscriptions could be seen everywhere as far as the eye could see.

In the great streets and small alleys, “Regular Script Pavilion,” “Brush Court,” and the “Compilation Pavilion” all had names full of a scholarly air, making Run Province appear extremely elegant. Scholars were writing, dipping their ink sticks. One could even smell in the air the fragrance of ink that permeated the soul.

White walls and black roof tiles, little bridges over running water.

Chen Mo seemed to have entered the quaint waterways of Jiangnan. He completely forgot about Star World’s hidden battle dangers. Therefore, the first time he set foot into Run City, he was taken aback by this elegant air. He did not expect there would actually still be this kind of literati treasure land in Star World.

“The Central Star Field partitioned a few Star Fields for Star Generals who loved literature and calligraphy to act as places for exchange. The Cangwu Star Field is one of these. In these Star Fields, martial force and magic energy Star Generals mostly won’t tread lightly. If they stir trouble, the Central Star Field will personally dole out punishment, so this is why these Star Fields flourish so much.” Jiang Yuezhuo explained.

“The Central Star Field handled this very meticulously, but the way I see it, maybe the Central Star Field feels there are too many Star Generals in Star World. They might as well make spiritual power Star Generals integrate together. This way, management will be much easier.” Chen Mo looked at the beautiful landscape.

“Junior Brother’s words are logical.” Jiang Yuezhuo ruminated.

The two of them followed the scenery of bridges, rivers, and groves. They looked like husband and wife, attracting the gazes of many people along the way. Jiang Yuezhuo wore a brocade and palace dress with her hair bound by floral hoops. She had a slender and elegant physique. While Run Province’s beauties were like water, Jiang Yuezhuo’s simple elegance still was eye-catching.

Seeing that the man accompanying Jiang Yuezhou was actually a cultivator was not even Earthly Immortal, this immediately made some people feel jealous. But jealousy was jealousy; looking at Jiang Yuezhuo’s features, they knew of her Star General status. Earthly Immortal cultivators did not dare seek trouble.

The two of them walked along several quiet roads through the forest. They spotted a courtyard hidden in the woods.

There was a pavilion of white glass, red walls, and green roof tiles, quiet and remote.

A couplet dangled over the gate.

First verse: The chanting pavilion amasses the scene of ten thousand mountains

Second verse: The ink well cleansing the ink-stone conceals a fish and dragon.

“A good couplet.” Chen Mo praised.

“What’s the identity of your friend?” Chen Mo could not help but ask. He saw that residence was in an elegant, quiet, and secluded envionment. Its courtyard and ink well were pristine, astonishingly clean.

“My friend’s Star Name is Mi Fu,3 an expert in the study of handwriting and calligraphy.” Jiang Yuezhuo softly said.

“Mi Fu?” Chen Mo was surprised. So it turned out to be him. The Northern Song’s Mi Fu was capable in poetry and literature, an expert in painting and calligraphy, a distinguished elite. He established Mi technique of large dots for mountains and rivers, and was one of the four famous calligraphers of Song. The head of the four calligraphers was but the famous Su Dongpo, also known as Su Shi.

How Jiang Yuezhuo and Mi Fu came to know each other was an extremely intriguing tale. For a time, Mi Fu had been writing the “Ink-stone Collection” and was gathering materials for an ink-stone. Jiang Yuezhuo had a Grade One “Falling Snow Fish Pattern Ink Stone” that Mi Fu requested of her, and she hounded JIang Kui for a long time over it. In the end, unable to dissuade her, Jiang Yuezhuo just gave the ink stone to her. By then, Jiang Yuezhuo was already cultivating in Mount Hua’s White Stone Fairyland and was nicknamed Daoist White Stone. Mi Fu then honored the stone as her sister, and the two people were consequently bound as sisters thence.

Chen Mo could not help but grin when he listened to the story. In history, Mi Fu had an interesting anecdote where he called a stone his brother. However, this was the reason he suffered impeachment as a government official. 

“Little Sister Mi Fu has an obsession, so Junior Brother, you need to be a bit more mindful.” Jiang Yuezhuo warned. A Star General’s True Name was a secret. Jiang Yuezhuo was aware of Mi Fu’s True Name, but she could not divulge it without permission.

Chen Mo indicated his understanding.

Jiang Yuezhuo took out a spirit talisman and launched it into the courtyard.

The spirit-light flashed, and the gate slowly opened.

They saw a young woman delicately walk out. She wore a golden colored robe, her waist was bound by a winding belt, and her skin was flowery. It was ancient type of hanfu, extremely quaint.

Her lithe figure was offset by the robe. In addition to the young lady’s clear complexion, her bright eyes, and fine black hair, she was like a fairy that had emerged from the clouds and frost.

“Elder Sister Yuezhuo, long time no see.” The young girl’s laugh was melodious, like a spring of dew.

“Little Sister Mi Fu, I am troubling you.” Jiang Yuezhuo held the tender girl.

“Elder Sister, calling me by Star Name is too formal.” The girl wrinkled her brow.

“Eh, I’ll first help introduce you to me Junior Brother-” Jiang Yuezhuo tenderly smiled.

Only now did Mi Fu notice the man behind Jiang Yuezhuo. The girl was taken aback, her brow locking even tighter.

“This is my junior brother, Chen Mo. He is helping me for my entire trip out this time.” Jiang Yuezhuo gently patted her hand, “My junior brother is very good, don’t you give him weird looks.”

“Junior brother? A disciple of Mount Hua?” Mi Fu walked over and looked Chen Mo up and down.

Chen Mo cupped his fist, “Greetings, Your Servant has long heard of Mi Fu’s Star Name.”

“Long heard of what, my Star Name isn’t anything outstanding.” Mi Fu disagreed, “That you are able to enter Mount Hua, seems you’re quite amazing. I also thought of going in the past, but I felt it too exhausting and didn’t go.”

“To be able to join Mount Hua, the exhaustion is worth it.” Chen Mo said.

Mi Fu grinned. “Mount Hua is easy to enter, but my ‘Verse Pavilion’ is definitely not so easy.”

“Little Sister, you…” Hearing that Mi Fu was apparently unwilling to allow Chen Mo entry into her residence, Jiang Yuezhuo wrinkled her brow.

“This honestly is not convenient for Lady Mi. I will be fine. Camping outdoors is a kind of self-discipline for one who cultivates the Dao.” Chen Mo did not really mind. For cultivators, who dwelled in Heaven and Earth, any place would do.

Mi Fu said: “I am not unkind. Since you’re Elder Sister’s Junior Brother, I won’t make things difficult. If you agree to my conditions, I’ll not only let you into the Verse Pavilion, I can inform you my True Name.

“This is also considered a rule of the Cangwu Star Field. Do you dare?”

Chen Mo was fine either way, however, hearing that she had a condition, he was quite intrigued.

“Then I am willing to try and know Lady Mi’s True Name.”

“Good.” Mi Fu showed a victorious smile, an expression that success was at hand. She glanced at the main gate, “I always wanted to change the couplet on the door. I shall start the couplet, and you shall respond.”

“A rhyming couplet, interesting.” In any event, Chen Mo was a history major. He was exceedingly aware of literature and couplets. THis was exactly what he wanted.

Mi Fu paced around, faintly smiling: “I’ll have you compose the second stanza: Clear reflection of the bright moon in lakes and mountains!”

“This couplet…” Chen Mo sunk into contemplation.

As in a martial battle against a martial general, Jiang Yuezhuo knew as one who stayed in the Cangwu Star Field for a long time that spiritual power Star Generals all had some interest in literary battles. She could not easily speak up against this. Hearing Mi Fu’s first verse, Jiang Yuezhuo herself pondered, but was unable to devise a perfect answer. She knew that her junior brother would be unable to respond.

Clear reflection of the bright moon in lakes and mountains…Chen Mo muttered to himself.

“Do you have it?” Mi Fu proudly said: “If you can’t, no need to feel humiliated, even Elder Sister Yuezhuo might not be able to respond.”

“Got it.” Chen Mo nodded, recalling something.

Mi Fu listened intently. In truth, she was somewhat indifferent, basically feeling Chen Mo was not able to answer.

“Charming and gentle clouds brocade the autumn flowers.”

The girl was stunned when she heard the response. This was simply perfect for her first verse.

“Charming and gentle clouds brocade the autumn flowers…Quite poetic. Elder Sister Yuezhuo, I couldn’t tell that your junior brother is very talented in literature.” Mi Fu praised.

Jiang Yuezhuo was very surprised. His martial force was inherently very strong, and he was very formidable in Buddhist nature. Now, he surprisingly was able to even receive Mi FU’s recognition. Apparently, nothing could stump him. Clear Bright Shadow cast him a curious glance, her bright eyes wishing to see through him.

Chen Mo’s couplet naturally was very poetic. In truth, this couplet was adapted from one of Mi Fu’s own poems. However, judging from the girl’s contemplative appearance, she did not know.

“Then I shall introduce myself once again.” The girl this time was earnest. “I am Earthly Inkstone Star ‘Unknown Literati’ Mi Fu, True Name Mi Ji!4 The ‘ji‘ from ‘light breeze and clear moon.'” “Ji” had the meaning of “end of rain or snow,” of weather clearing up. The girl actually gave off this kind of feeling after changing to a friendly attitude.

Mi Ji invited the two of them into the Verse Pavilion. The courtyard inside had a pool already suffused with black light. Surprisingly, it smelled of ink.

He wondered how long she spent washing her brush in this inkwell.

“Sister Ji, it looks like you spent a lot of effort practicing writing. I wonder how your practice is coming along.” Jiang Yuezhuo looked at that inkwell and smiled.

“Elder Sister will know when she looks.”

Entering the study, the surrounding walls were plastered with calligraphy, each character vivid, perfectly balanced in vigor and serenity.

The Unknown Literati Mi Fu’s finger pointed. A row of white sheets of paper fluttered in the room, and a delicate wolf brush appeared in her hand. Then, an inkstone of snow-like Black Ice appeared. Star Energy rubbed the ink into fluid, and the girl dipped the wolf brush in, writing with abandon.

Brush, brush, brush.

The brush slithered in a straight line from top to bottom, fluttering over the paper like a butterfly through a meadow.

Words appeared on the paper.

This was none other than her couplet with Chen Mo from a moment ago.

“Elder Sister, please look.”

Mi Fu possessed a particular understanding towards calligraphy’s distribution, structure, and penmanship. Jiang Kui had researched calligraphy for many years, and she knew at a glance the particulars of Mi Fu’s penmanship. She was adept in the striding vigor of front and lateral, face down and face up, front and back, turn and transition, a steady and straightforward style. A character’s first stroke was often heavy, lightening in the middle, and upon meeting a turn, the pen would lift while the tip rotated below. The changes for a firm stroke were numerous. The crux of a stroke was sometimes on the lift, sometimes at contact, and other times during the stroke itself. With respects to a horizontal stroke, there were many flourishes. Hooks also had an abundance of particulars.

Already, it was not inferior to “Muscular Like the Yan’s, Bony Like the Liu’s.”

”Steady and extraordinary, rugged but not strange, old but not withered, embellished but not gaudy, achieving unity in the midst of change. You combined opposing elements together like openness with concealment, rich with lean, sparseness with denseness, simplicity with complexity.” Jiang Kui showed an astonished expression and praised her: “Bones and muscles, skin and flesh, fat and fluid, every kind of manner and expression, just like a soldier. In the rules, emphasis was placed on the perfection of the balance between the spirit of the whole body and the minute details. Having a well thought out plan, the writing process would flow with changes and have only ingenuity.

“Rising like a swift steed, deep and resounding without equal. Little Sister, your characters are very great.”

“All thanks to Run Province’s atmosphere, it’s the best place to practice calligraphy.” Mi Ji once again looked at the nearby spectating Chen Mo, her clear bright eyes aglow: “How about it, can Fellow Chen Mo see anything.”

“Neither yielding nor withdrawing, neither advancing nor stopping. Lady Mi has already completely grasped the quintessence of writing.” Chen Mo was also impressed.

Mi Ji was taken aback.

“Neither yielding nor withdrawing, neither advancing nor stopping. Chen Mo, these eight words are a truly wonderful description.” Jiang Yuezhuo once again felt surprised.

Mi Ji showed a slightly bitter smile: “I practiced writing characters in Run Province for so many years to finally sum up the quintessence. Originally, I had even wanted to tell Sister Yuezhuo, but I never expected you to see it at a glance. Elder Sister, don’t tell me this junior brother of yours is a disciple of the Orchid Pavilion’s Sage Of Calligraphy?”

Jiang Yuezhuo looked at Chen Mo very helplessly. If it was not for the fact she knew this junior brother, she would have thought the same, too.

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  1. Seems to be an amalgamation of a couple poems.
  2. 倉吳星域,潤州
  3. 米芾
  4. 米霽

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