Chapter 21 – The fragrance of ink permeates the heavens and earth

After waking up, Fang Yun washed up, had breakfast, walked around the courtyard, and then went back to his room to practice calligraphy and read.

During this time, some people came to visit, but they were all unimportant and were stopped by Yang Yuhuan in the courtyard. They heard Fang Yun’s reading voice and wisely left, but not before praising Fang Yun’s hard work.

At noon, Liang Yuan brought food and wine and discussed the bookshop business with Fang Yun. They decided to go to Dayuan Prefecture together to run the bookshop, with Liang Yuan leaving five days earlier to help Fang Yun choose a place to live and the address of the bookshop.

After dinner, Fang Yun went to the library of the county academy.

The library of the county academy was huge, with over ten thousand books, but the only drawback was that they couldn’t be borrowed. Fang Yun chose a rare book he had never seen before called “The Collection of Grass Hut Mountain Residence,” which was a collection of works by a grand academician of Jing Kingdom.

Fang Yun silently held the book, but the book world did not react.

After a moment, Fang Yun whispered, “Collect!”

But the book world still did not respond.

Fang Yun stared at the five characters on the cover of “The Collection of Grass Hut Mountain Residence” with great concentration, but it was of no use.

“Can’t I just collect it directly into the book world?” Fang Yun thought, but when he tried to flip through the pages, the book world still did not respond. So he had to memorize it word by word.

After silently reading the first page, Fang Yun turned the page and the book world finally reacted.

A blank book appeared in Fang Yun’s mind, and the cover gradually appeared with the five characters of “The Collection of Grass Hut Mountain Residence,” and the first page had content, but the rest was still blank.

“Do I really have to silently read all the text before I can collect it into the book world? This kind of scripture can’t be read quickly. Two characters per second, seven thousand two hundred characters per hour, even if I read for ten hours a day, it’s only seventy-two thousand characters. In three months and sixty days, it’s only over four million characters. The works of all the saints are numerous, especially the works of the new saints in the last two or three hundred years, which must add up to more than ten million characters. Many of them are not in the book world. In addition, the interpretations of the classics by the great scholars and grand academicians also need to be read. Without reading for more than ten years, there will be no great achievement.”

Fang Yun was in a dilemma. The provincial examination for talented scholars was much harder than the county examination, and the scope of what they had to study was much wider. If he only got a passing grade in the classics or the request for holy words, it would be very embarrassing.

“If it really doesn’t work, I won’t participate in the provincial examination this year. I’ll take the talented scholar examination in a few years.” Fang Yun thought and left the library.

There were many shops related to reading on the street of the academy, selling books, the four treasures of the study, and other miscellaneous items. Because the child scholar examination had just passed, people from other villages and towns had not left yet, and the street was very lively, with many shops having discount activities.

Fang Yun didn’t have much money before, so he couldn’t buy too many books. But now that he had money, he was tempted when he saw a set of “The Collection of Watch the Sea” on sale for a 10% discount.Chen Guanhai is currently the only Semi-Saint in the Jing Kingdom. His collection of works, “Guanhai Collection,” is a must-have for many scholars in the Jing Kingdom. The collection includes poetry, classics, policy discussions, annotations, and other books of commentary and explanation by other Great Scholars and Grand Academicians. There are a total of fifty-two books, all contained in two wooden bookcases, each half a person tall.

Fang Yun walked into the store and was immediately hit with the scent of ink.

“How much is this ‘Guanhai Collection’?” Fang Yun asked.

“This is the deluxe collector’s edition, originally priced at twenty taels of silver, but discounted to eighteen taels. No bargaining,” the busy bookstore owner replied without looking up.

Fang Yun was surprised. He didn’t expect the collection to be so expensive. If he were still working at the restaurant, he would have to go without food or drink for three years just to be able to afford it.

“Do you have a simpler version?” Fang Yun asked.

“Yes, five taels per set, no discount.”

Fang Yun thought to himself that it was about one hundred texts per book, which was a fortune for his past self, but not so much for his current self who was studying.

“Then give me a set of the simpler version,” Fang Yun said. He only wanted to study, not collect, so there was no need to buy the deluxe version, which was also too heavy to carry around. He could consider collecting it later when he went to the Dayuan Prefecture.

As Fang Yun was searching for his silver, he heard someone exclaim in surprise, “Isn’t that Fang Yun, the top scorer in the county exam?”

Fang Yun looked up and saw a young man in a brocade robe standing in front of him. He vaguely remembered him as a former neighbor from a few years ago named Xue Hua, who had moved away after passing the Child Scholar exam.

“Hello, Xue Xiong. How are your parents?” Fang Yun politely asked.

“They’re both doing well. They mentioned yesterday that you were the top scorer in the county exam. They were very happy, and I never expected to run into you here,” Xue replied with a smile.

Fang Yun was about to reply when the bookstore owner, whose hair was all white, shouted loudly, “You’re the Fang Shuangjia who took a cart to the exam room, right?”

“That’s me,” Fang Yun replied.

“You want the ‘Guanhai Collection,’ right? I’ll give you the deluxe version for free. Make a list of what else you need, and I’ll have someone deliver it to your home, free of charge,” the bookstore owner said happily, revealing a mouthful of almost-lost teeth.

Fang Yun hurriedly declined, “Thank you for your kindness, but I don’t want to take advantage of you. I’ll pay the regular price.”

“How are you not taking advantage? We’ve never had a Double Armor and a Child Scholar in Jixian before. You’re famous, and Jixian is famous because of you. As a fellow Jixian resident, it’s my duty to give you some books. Don’t refuse,” the bookstore owner said.

Fang Yun was still trying to decline when Xue Hua said with a smile, “Fang Shuangjia, you don’t need to decline. I’ve been studying at the Academy for three years and have known Boss Zhao for a long time. He’s a kind-hearted person who supports scholars. Every year, the top three performers in the Academy’s exams can come to his bookstore and choose a set of books for free. This tradition has been going on for over ten years.”Zhao Boss smiled and said, “When you become the top scholar in the future, I can say that I once gave a book to the top scholar. That’s something to be proud of. One set of books is nothing. Take it. If you don’t take it, I’ll find out where you live and throw it into your house at night.”

Fang Yun knew that this was the advantage of having a good reputation. Seeing that he couldn’t refuse, he had to say, “Thank you for giving me the book, old man.”

“Don’t mention it. We old bones can’t do it anymore. In the future, we will have to rely on you young people to resist the Demon Barbarians. But don’t learn from Fang Zhongyong. He’s always wandering around with his father, and one day he will run out of ink in his stomach.”

“I will remember it in my heart. When I have learned enough, I will go to the battlefield and exterminate the Demon Barbarians.”

“Good! You have ambition!” the old man said with a smile.

Fang Yun chatted with the boss and Xue Hua in the bookstore for a quarter of an hour, then said he had to go home and read. He carried the two boxes of books and walked back alone.

Fang Yun felt warm in his heart, not because of the books, but because of the friendship of the bookstore owner. If the human race and Jing Kingdom had such citizens, they would not be defeated by the Demon Barbarians.

Back home, Fang Yun opened the box of books and took them all out. The room was instantly filled with the same ink smell as the bookstore.

These hardcover books had the best paper and ink, and felt great in Fang Yun’s hands. He looked at the old books on the bookshelf and thought that they should be thrown away.

“Huh? Where did the book go?” Fang Yun looked at his empty hands in confusion. The book smell was still there, but the book was gone.

Fang Yun looked around and confirmed that it had really disappeared out of thin air. Instead of getting angry, he was extremely happy. He tentatively murmured in his heart, “The first volume of Watch the Sea Collection.”

A brand-new first volume of Watch the Sea Collection appeared in his mind, and he could even faintly smell the ink.

Fang Yun used his mind to turn the pages. Like the other books in the Odd Book World, the text had not changed, but punctuation marks had been added, making it easier to read and understand.

“This book is similar to the one in the Imperial Academy Library. Why can it be included in the Odd Book World? Could it be new or hardcover? This possibility is too small.”

Fang Yun tried to touch other books and silently said to himself to include them in the Odd Book World, only to find that all fifty-two volumes of Watch the Sea Collection had been included, and there were only two empty wooden book boxes on the ground.

“Could it be a matter of ownership?”

Fang Yun immediately took action and borrowed a book he had never read from his neighbor’s house. No matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t include it in the Odd Book World. He tried to read the first page carefully, and the Odd Book World immediately included the book, but only the content of the first page.

“It seems that I have to read the book myself to include it in the Odd Book World. If it’s someone else’s book, I have to read it carefully.”Fang Yun breathed a sigh of relief. It was much better to be able to collect the rare books without having to read them thoroughly. Otherwise, he would have to read for ten years before being able to collect them.

“The county is small, and I need too many books. I’m afraid I’ll need several hundred thousand copies. Buying a large amount of books and then disappearing into thin air is easy to be suspected. When I go to Dayuan Prefecture and open a bookstore with a warehouse, I can ‘eat books’ in large quantities without worrying about being suspected.”

Fang Yun laughed. He didn’t expect that running a bookstore would have this benefit.

With the book problem solved, Fang Yun continued to practice calligraphy and recite the works of all the saints, trying to understand the true meaning in them.

In the following days, Fang Yun kept practicing calligraphy and reading books. At night, he went to study the classics with the magistrate of Caixian County. His days were very fulfilling.

Time passed quickly, and ten days had passed in a blink of an eye.

Yang Yuhuan found a trustworthy maid, and Fang Yun also chose a kind and honest cousin from the Fang family to be his attendant. They gradually dealt with all the miscellaneous matters.

On a hazy morning, the four of them loaded their belongings onto a horse-drawn carriage.

The rooster crowed, and its loud voice echoed. The four of them looked at the empty courtyard and the faint frost on the ground, feeling a little sad.

Fang Yun looked towards the horizon, where the sun had not yet risen, and the east was a shade of blue.

In the quiet morning, the four of them got on the carriage.

“Let’s go.” Fang Yun said in a deep voice from inside the carriage.

Fang Daniu, who was sitting at the front of the carriage, cracked his whip and made a crisp sound.

The three horses immediately snorted, and their breaths formed white mist as they moved the carriage forward with their hooves. The bell on the neck of the lead horse jingled, and the melodious sound echoed on the road. The wheels of the carriage rolled on the ground, making a rumbling sound, and the people on the carriage trembled slightly.

Yang Yuhuan couldn’t help but open the curtain and look outside.

Fang Yun looked through the window of the carriage and saw a faint crescent moon hanging in the sky.

“We will come back.” Fang Yun reassured her.

Yang Yuhuan reached out and tucked her hair behind her ear, saying, “With you, it’s home. It’s just that people always have some nostalgia.”

Jiang Pozzi, who was in her forties, said, “The young master is the God of Literature who has descended to the mortal world. It’s the same wherever he goes. When the young master becomes the top scholar in the future, he can naturally come back to visit his hometown.”

Fang Yun nodded.

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