"It's a deal!" Kong Ling Yang didn't think very highly of Jun Mo Xie. [He doesn't have the skill to come up with a counter-verse for Han Zhi Dong's verse. And even if he managed to come-up with something… how could this debauchee's shallow verse match up to the WenXing Heavenly Literature Institute's standard? This is a joke!]
Jun Mo Xie patted his thigh, and crisp 'pop' sound echoed. He then raised a bottle of wine off the table, and put one of his feet on the chair. He raised his head upwards, drank a mouthful of wine and thought for a while. Then, he looked upwards once more, drank a mouthful of wine, and continued to ponder.
Everyone's gaze was fixed on Jun Mo Xie. Even the Emperor was no exception. There was look of interest and a faint trace of coldness in the Emperor's eyes. He would have to re-assess the Jun Family if Jun Mo Xie was able to come up with an appropriate counter-verse…
Dugu Xiao Yi and Princess Ling Meng gazed at him anxiously. [How's he going to win? He will have to face a lot of embarrassment if his verse isn't up to the mark…] However, they didn't speak up since they didn't wish to disturb his thoughts.
However, Dugu Ying became anxious as he saw Jun Mo Xie devour over half of the wine bottle, "Hey…! You aren't using this opportunity to drink extra wine, right?"
Dugu Xiao Yi ferociously shot a glance towards her elder brother, "No one else seems worried about that; so why are you?" Dugu Ying scratched his head in confusion. He remained seated as his helpless eyes remained affixed to the wine-bottle in Jun Mo Xie's hand…
Jun Mo Xie raised his right hand and snapped his fingers. 'Click!' A clear and crisp sound echoed as he said, "I've got it!"
Everyone anxiously listened as Jun Mo Xie complacently recited his counter-verse, "The streets smell sh*t. A man's sh*t stinks. A dog's sh*t stinks. A pig's sh*t stinks. Sh*t stinks sh*it stinks, and shit*y sh*t stinks. To have one's name go down in history — a scholar must sh*t the most stinky sh*t!"
It seemed as if everyone had been thunderstruck!
"That's amazing! Really Amazing! To use 'stink' to counter 'fragrance', and 'sh*t' to counter 'flowers'… Gluah, gluah…" Tang Yuan hurriedly spoke up in praise. However, he hadn't even finished his sentence when his mouth started to nauseate with a 'gluah' sound. He then became speechless as his belly expressed a strong desire to vomit…
Such a pair of counter-verses… was too nauseating. This couplet could make anyone nauseate. Therefore, it wouldn't be strange if people were to vomit… especially after eating a heavy meal…
Everyone had a weird look on their faces. They looked at Jun Mo Xie with grief and indignation. Suddenly, a 'gluah' sound was heard. Silver Blizzard City's Little Princess Han Yan Meng clutched her mouth and ran out. Several young maidens followed after her with their mouths clutched…
Finally Dugu Xiao Yi followed after them with her mouth clutched. She shot Jun Mo Xie a quick hateful glance before she ran-off…
"Who can dare to say that I'm wrong? I've balanced the unbalanced!" Jun Mo Xie made a rousing call. He then grabbed a crab, efficiently fished out the meat, put it in his mouth, and started to chew.
Everyone watched as he started to chew that yellow-colored crab meat. Suddenly, everyone's complexion turned pale as they recalled the counter-verse he had just spoken…
Everyone was left dumbfounded. This antithetical couplet was indeed a fitting match. Moreover, the counter-verse had come as a ruthless abuse that had been aimed at these talented scholars. The phrase "A scholar must sh*t the most stinky sh*t" had left the two Old Masters trembling in anger. Kong Ling Yang and Mei Gao Jie made no comments as far as the metrical aspects of the counter-verse was concerned… however…
[You came-up with this counter-verse while everyone was eating their meal. Aren't you deliberately trying to make us look bad? Your verse may have been up to the mark, but you've surely killed everyone's appetite…]
"Time to reverse the wheel; now it's my turn to ask the question!" Jun Mo Xie complacently waved the half-the-crab that remained in his hand, "I recall that I was at my home about a fortnight ago… I was reading poetry… when suddenly… an old friend of my grandfather's showed up. He left a deep impression on me because of his strange name and surname; his Surname was 'He'… and name was 'Shang'… He gifted my grandfather a picture he had painted with his own hands. It was a Lotus's painting. He consulted my grandfather with a poetic verse before he left. My Grandfather has asked several people, but no one has been able to answer it…"
Dugu Xiao Yi and the other women returned to the hall. Their pale faces and hateful eyes were bitterly glaring at Jun Mo Xie. In fact, it seemed as if they were itching to bite him.
Someone asked out of curiosity before Jun Mo Xie got a chance to continue, "What was the specific verse Third Young Master Jun?"
"That verse was very simple. It only had 7 words in it — Picture a lotus above a monk's Picture." Jun Mo Xie groaned twice as he tossed this phrase out. He had used his grandfather as a tool to conjure this shady trickery. He was aware that his grandfather wouldn't betray him. There were too many people whom he'd never trust. However, his grandfather was amongst the people he considered the most worthy of his trust.
Grandpa Jun would never wipe his buttocks with his own grandson's face. Therefore, Jun Mo Xie could tell such lies with a straight face in public view.
"Picture a lotus above a monk's Picture… Picture a lotus above a monk's Picture…" Everyone frowned as they repeated this verse. This verse seemed very simple, but it was quite complicated; it left everyone's pumping cold air…
It didn't matter which side one looked at the poetic verse from… one would only see the man's name and gift embedded into the poetry. Moreover, the end and the beginning of the verse were exactly the same. However, they were inverted with respect to each other.
Every expert poet in the room frowned. They had never imagined that this incompetent debauchee would be able to come up with such a difficult puzzle.
Every scholar from the WenXing Heavenly Literature Institute found themselves looped in a puzzle of unprecedented difficulty. They puckered their brows as they racked their brains to find a solution.
Jun Mo Xie had put-up this verse even though he didn't know the counter. The fact that he had put-up this puzzle could not be reversed. He would find himself in trouble if the opposition was unable to come-up with a fitting reply. This was because he would have to answer the riddle if they weren't able to. And every person from the institute was likely to gang-up on him if he wasn't able to answer his own riddle…
The solution to this puzzle would come like a miracle to them; and they needed this miracle to happen!
Wouldn't it be a matter of shame if the entire brain-power of the Institute was unable to solve an incompetent debauchee's puzzle…? Therefore, everyone racked their brains, and came up with multiple solutions after applying various kinds of creative concepts. However, none of the counter-verses seemed to be of sufficient quality.
These gifted scholars were required to come-up with a reply before an incense stick burns out. This made them worry more and more as time elapsed.
The two masters of the Institute were struggling as well!
Mei Gao Jie's eyebrows were puckered as he paced back and forth. He'd shake his head from time to time and then mutter, "No. That won't do." Then, he'd attempt to try a different angle.
Old Master Kong Ling Yang was motionless. His eyes were shut. His face was angled towards the heavens. He was immersed in a deep thought. However, if one looked from a distance… they'd see the dark of his gloomy facial wrinkles… his silver-grey and snow-like hair falling over his face. One couldn't help but feel a strange sadness as they'd look at his face.
This verse was meant as a puzzle for the disciples of the Institute. Therefore, the participation of the two old masters of the Institute would be considered illegal. However, this matter related to the reputation of this ancient Institute. Hence, the two old masters couldn't help themselves…
Jun Mo Xie didn't care much about it. He wouldn't have bothered if ten-twenty masters of the institute were to participate… let alone these two…
Time passed very gradually. The smoke from the incense stick continued to rise in spirals until its entire body turned to ashes.
Their miracle didn't happen!
"I have nothing! I concede my defeat!" Han Zhi Dong's head was hung low in disappointment. He couldn't help but feel frustrated within his heart. How could a top-scholar from the WenXing Heavenly Literature Institute lose to this brat…?!
He wished he were dead…
"No! You lost, but you're not to be blamed for it. Well, the blame isn't limited to you!" Jun Mo Xie half-leaned into his chair as he extended his finger and gently rowed it. "You're not to blame for this bet against me! You can at-best be considered a chess piece in this game; and a very ordinary one at that. You're not qualified to make a bet with me! No matter which way you see it… you're not even qualified to make a bet against me! You're too beneath my own self for that."
Then, Jun Mo Xie tilted his head and smiled as he looked at the Kong Ling Yang and Mei Gao Jie, "Masters? What do you have to say?"
"We've lost." The faces of the two old men looked dazed. They had arrived here in high spirits as the two lead-representatives of the WenXing Heavenly Literature Institute — an institution that was publicly accepted to be the biggest and wisest talent hub of the Empire. However, they had unexpectedly suffered a crushing defeat at Jun Mo Xie's hands. The two old masters felt as their lives had been turned into a living-death.
Kong Ling Yang's lips trembled as he spoke in a soft voice, "This Old Man shall keep his promise. The WenXing Heavenly Literature Institute will never speak of poetry in front of Jun Mo Xie."
There was absolute silence in the hall for a while.
Jun Mo Xie sighed. The characters of these two men had earned them a lot of respect in his heart. He hadn't wished for them to be subjected to such a plight. These two men had set-up the WenXing Heavenly Literature Institute on their own merit. They would hand-pick their disciples personally, and would nurture the Empire's talent pool with their inexhaustible efforts. They had never disregarded the poor and lowly. Their only selection-criteria had been the disciple's intellect and learning ability. They had solemnly ignored the riches of life, and had stayed away from the political influence of Imperial Ministers. They were genuinely worthy of the Hitman's admiration in this regard.
These two men were certainly admirable. However, they had some short-comings. Their knowledge and teachings were surely worthy of respect, but their ideology and methods were mistaken. They would pay note to a disciple's intellect and learning ability, but they'd neglect his other character-traits.
A teacher mustn't limit to imparting knowledge alone.
Jun Mo Xie had always believed that — Teachers are the engineers of the human soul.
These masters were certainly the greatest of their generation. They had imparted a vast base of knowledge to their disciples. Their disciples were well-versed with poetry. They were well-versed with strategic ploys. They were well-trained to handle important political positions. They were certain to find success in their careers if they were able to put this training to use; and quickly at that. However, the two masters had neglected that their disciples would act selfishly if they weren't good men at heart. Their actions would only revolve around their person glory, wealth, and profits… as such, they'd make terrible servants to the people of the Empire.
It was needless to say that these two masters had nurtured thousands of the disciples under theirs' and the WenXing Heavenly Literature Institute's name.
Such individuals would be bound to act for their own selfish interests once they were to leave the Institute and embark on their bureaucratic journey… regardless of their inherent social wealth or status. Moreover, these disciples were educated at the WenXing Heavenly Literature Institute, and were likely to acquire top positions in the powerful factions and families. In fact, even the worst of them were bound to make low level officials… such as clerks or book-keepers…
How much harm could they cause to the society if their characters weren't shaped with appropriate moral education? The damage they could cause was unimaginable.
This was the reason why Jun Mo Xie disapproved of them. In fact, he didn't merely disapprove of them… he despised them.
The two old masters were extremely enraged. However, Jun Mo Xie didn't believe that they had been wronged. Rather, he believed that they had been served well.
[I'm not a good person. Nor do I care about the sufferings of the people on this land. However, if you bully me like that — I shall not be reluctant to stand-in for the heaven's punishment!]
[These worldly matters, ah!] Jun Mo Xie sighed. Then, the Hitman Jun suddenly turned into a champion for a cause. He had started to think very nobly of himself — [I shall relieve people of their pains and sufferings no matter which world I live in. I shall emerge when people are in dire need…] Well, that situation hadn't arisen yet…
The term we've used to describe Jun Mo Xie's poetry is 'Counter-Verse'. The most appropriate term would be 'Antithetical Couplet'. An Antithetical Couplet is a verse of poetry which counterpoints its counterpart verse. In China, such poetic verses are often drawn or written on paper/wood, and are used as decorations. The competitions described in these chapters were known to be a popular intellectual pastime in ancient China.
This verse is situationally untranslatable to some extent. The verse is 'Hua Shang He Hua He Shang Hua' in the native language. The man's name is 'He Shang'. 'He' means 'poetic rhyme'. 'Shang' means 'above'. 'Hua' means 'drawing' or 'Painting/Picture'. 'He Shang' means 'monk'. 'He Hua' means 'Lotus'. It's basically the same thing in reserve. Hua Shang He… Hua… He Shang Hua… And he only uses the man's name [He Shang… means monk] and his drawing [Hua]… of a lotus [He Hua] to create a situationally complex rhyme [Rhyme is written as 'He' in the native language]…