Chapter 18 -Let the past disperse away like smoke
Faced with his brother's question, Fang Yuan did not speak; he continued eating his breakfast. He knew his younger brother's character – Fang Zheng was not someone who could keep in his composure.
Sure enough Fang Zheng saw that his older brother did not even bat an eye at him, as if Fang Yuan pretended he was air. In the next moment he called out in a tone full of unhappiness, "Big brother, what did you do to Shen Cui? Ever since she came out from your room yesterday, she cried all over the place. When I comforted her, she cried even more."
Fang Yuan looked up at his younger brother, his face expressionless. Fang Zheng frowned, staring firmly at his older brother, waiting for his reply.
The atmosphere was growing tense.
But Fang Yuan just looked at him for a second before he lowered his head and continued eating.
The younger brother Fang Zheng was immediately flustered. Fang Yuan's attitude was clearly an undisguised contempt towards him. Under shame and frustration he banged his hand on the table, roaring loudly, "Gu Yue Fang Yuan, how can you act like this! Shen Cui as a servant girl has served you for so many years; I have seen her gentleness and care towards you. Yes, I know you feel lost, and I can understand your dejected feelings. Yeah you're just a C grade talent, but it doesn't mean you can vent your anger on others just because of your own misfortune. This isn't fair to her!"
He had barely finished when Fang Yuan stood up, raising his hand in a flash.
With a loud snap he gave Fang Zheng a solid smack.
Fang Zheng covered his right cheek, stumbling two steps backwards, his face full of shock.
"Useless bastard, what kind of tone are you using to talk to your own older brother?! That Shen Cui is just a servant girl! Just because of a lowly girl like her you would forget that I am your older brother?" Fang Yuan reprimanded in a low voice.
Fang Zheng finally reacted, his stinging pain on his face surging through his nervous system in waves. He stared wide-eyed, his breathing rough as he said in disbelief, "Big brother, you hit me? From the time I was still young until I grew up, you have never hit me before! Yes, I was found out to be an A grade talent, you were just C grade. But you also cannot blame me for it, this is all the arrangement of heaven…"
Fang Zheng had not finished speaking, yet Fang Yuan used the back of his hand and smacked him again.
Fang Zheng covered both his cheeks with his two hands. He was stunned.
"Naïve fool, do you still remember! From young till now, how did I take care of you? When our parents died, our life was hard. During New Year, aunt and uncle only gave us both one new robe, did I wear it? Who did I give it to wear? When you were small you loved to eat sweet porridge, I would tell the kitchens to make another bowl for you everyday. When you were bullied by others, who brought you back? Not to mention a ton of other things, I don't feel like it is worth talking about. Well, right now because of a maid, you would talk to me like this, coming to question me?"
Fang Zheng's face was red. His lips trembled, ashamed and annoyed, as well as surprised and angry. Yet he was unable to say a single word of rebuttal.
Because everything Fang Yuan said was the truth!
"Whatever." Fang Yuan sneered, "Since you even gave up your own biological parents and admitted someone else, what is my worth for I, as your big brother?"
"Big brother, how can you that. You also know that I have always longed for the warmth of a family since I was young, I…" Fang Zheng immediately explained.
Fang Yuan waved his hand, stopping his brother from continuing. "From today onwards, you are not my little brother, and I am no longer your older brother."
"Big brother!" Fang Zheng was surprised, opening his mouth to say more.
At this moment Fang Yuan spoke, "Don't you like Shen Cui? Don't worry; I didn't do anything to her. She's still a virgin, untouched and pure. Pass me six primeval stones and I'll pass her to you, from today onwards she can be your personal maid."
"Big brother, why are you…" To have his inner thoughts revealed out loud so suddenly, Fang Zheng felt a surge of panic, feeling rather unprepared.
But at the same time his heart was assured. The one thing he was worried about the most did not come true.
Not long ago in the night, Shen Cui personally served and washed him.
Even though nothing important happened, Fang Zheng could not ever forget the gentleness of that night. Every time when he thought of Shen Cui, he would remember her skillful hands and her soft red lips, and his heart would throb.
The sincere feelings of youthfulness had long planted itself in the young man's chest, starting to grow.
Thus when he learned about Shen Cui's unusual state last evening, a bout of anger immediately burst from his heart. He instantly gave up refining his Moonlight Gu and turned the village inside out trying to find Fang Yuan, wanting to make a statement.
Seeing Fang Zheng not replying, Fang Yuan frowned and said, "Love is very normal, be more honest. There's no use hiding away. Of course, if you don't want to exchange, then that's fine."
Fang Zheng was anxious on the spot. "I'll exchange! Why would I not exchange. But the primeval stones on me are not enough for six anymore."
As he said this, he took out his money pouch, his face red all over.
Fang Yuan took the pouch and found six pieces in it, but one of the stones among them was smaller than a normal primeval stone by half size. He immediately knew that Fang Zheng had absorbed the primeval essence from this stone to speed up the process of refining his Moonlight Gu. After all the more natural essence gets absorbed from the primeval stone, the smaller the stone becomes, and its weight will also become lighter.
Even though it was just five pieces and a half, Fang Yuan knew: These were all the primeval stones that Fang Zheng had in his possession right now. Fang Zheng had no savings on his own, and these six primeval stones were what Aunt and Uncle had given to him not long ago.
"I'll keep these, you can go now." Fang Yuan's expression was cold as he tucked the bag away.
"Big brother…" Fang Zheng wanted to say more.
Fang Yuan raised his eyebrows slightly, speaking in a slow and leisure manner, "Before I change my mind, you better disappear from my eyes."
Fang Zheng felt his heart tighten. He gritted his teeth, and finally turned and left. When he stepped through the doorway of the inn, he subconsciously covered his chest with his hand, feeling a wave of uneasiness. There was a feeling that was telling him that he had just lost something very important.
But very quickly he felt hot as he thought of Shen Cui, and that dreamy night. "I can finally have you rightfully as mine, Cui Cui (1)." He did not look back, and walked out of Fang Yuan's sight.
Fang Yuan stood expressionless; he stood for a long time, then he finally slowly sat down.
The bright sunlight passed through the window, shining onto his indifferent face, making those who saw this feel somewhat cold inside. The business in the cafeteria was rather poor, and the streets grew busier with people. The noise and excitement from the bustling crowd travelled over, making the place feel quieter. The dishes grew cold. A worker came up attentively, asking if Fang Yuan would like to reheat his breakfast.
Fang Yuan did not hear it. His gaze kept shifting like a cloud, as if he was reminiscing some old memories. The worker waited for a while. But as he saw Fang Yuan in a trance, never replying a single word, he could only rub his nose and walk away bitterly.
After a long time, Fang Yuan's eyes became focused again. The past memories in his heart were like smoke; they had already dispersed away.
He returned to reality once more. The sunlight that flowed in, shone over half the table. The hot air that wafted out of the dishes had already disappeared, and the bustling noise of the crowd on the streets travelled into his ears.
He reached into his robes and patted the five-and-a-half primeval stones at his bosom, his mouth curling into a bitter and mocking smile. But the smile was quickly cast away.
"Waiter, go and reheat these dishes for me." Fang Yuan took a look at his dishes and faintly opened his mouth, shouting away. At this moment his eyes looked so chilly.
"What! Your older brother really said that?" In the hall, Uncle frowned, his voice cold. Aunt sat aside, looking speechlessly at the fresh red handprint on Fang Zheng's cheeks.
"Yes, when I met big brother, he was at the inn eating breakfast. The entire thing went like this," Fang Zheng replied politely.
Uncle's frown deepened, all condensed into 3 black lines(2).
After a few breaths he sighed and said in a solemn tone, "Fang Zheng my child, you must remember this. The maidservant Shen Cui is not Fang Yuan's personal property; we assigned her to him. How can he use her as a trading item? If you wished for it, you should have told us earlier on. We would just assign her to you."
"Ah?" Fang Zheng was stunned as he listened to this.
Uncle waved his hand. "You can take your leave. You gave all your primeval stones to Fang Yuan, so I'll just give you another six. Remember, use them properly on refining your Gu and seize number one. We will be very proud of you when you do."
"Father, your child is ashamed…" Fang Zheng was suddenly moved to tears. Uncle sighed and replied, "Just go, hurry back to your room and refine your Gu. You don't have much time left."
When Fang Zheng took his leave, Uncle's face revealed a ferocious and angry expression.
He hit the table with his palm using great force, hissing, "Hmph, this damn bastard. He actually took our workers to do an exchange, he's really cunning!"
Aunt advised, "Husband, calm your anger. It's just six primeval stones."
"What do you understand, woman! This Fang Yuan is only a C grade talent, if he wants to refine the Moonlight Gu he would need primeval stones. With his weak experience of a first timer, six primeval stones won't be enough to refine it. But now that he has twelve pieces, it will be more than sufficient." Uncle was so furious he gritted his teeth.
He added, "A Gu Master's cultivation will very swift as long as there are enough resources and no obstacles. In two or three years, the clan will be able to produce a Rank two Gu Master. The lower Fang Yuan's cultivation rank, the smaller his hopes of trying to seize the family inheritance one year later. Right now he is still young, just starting to cultivate. We shall hinder him and let his starting process fall behind those at his age. The academy resources are always awarded to excellent students. With his latent talent, once he falls back he won't be able to get any resources. Without the help of resources his cultivation will fall even further. With this vicious cycle, I would like to see if he has the ability to inherit the family inheritance a year later!"
Aunt did not understand. "Even if we do not stop him, he would at most be at Rank one Middle stage a year later. Husband, your cultivation is at Rank two, why are you still afraid of him?"
Uncle was so angry he stomped and said, "Woman, you really are a case of 'long hair but short insight'! With just my identity as the senior, should I really beat down the younger generation? If he wants to get back the inheritance, it is reasonable and cannot be stopped directly; I can only fight back using the clan rules. It is stated in the clan rules: To be head of the house at sixteen years old, the person must have at least Rank one middle stage cultivation. Otherwise it means that Fang Yuan will have no right to waste the clan resources. After I have said this, do you understand now?"
Aunt was enlightened.
Uncle narrowed his eyes, a glint in his gaze. He shook his head a little, sighing as he said, "Fang Yuan is just too smart, too cunning. He could even see through a power play. What kind of intellect is this? Scheming and calculating at such a young age, how terrorizing! Initially I was going to continue plotting against him, yet he moved out straight away. I wanted to further rely on Shen Cui to monitor and trouble him, but in the end he went away and even earned six primeval stones."
"Alas, if he could be as stupid as Fang Zheng, that would've been great. Oh right, from today onwards you must treat Fang Zheng better. He is an A grade talent after all. Not to mention I can see that he has feelings of dissatisfaction and unhappiness towards Fang Yuan. These emotions are a good thing; they must be guided properly. I have a sort of feeling that he will become the best tool to deal with Fang Yuan in future!"
In the blink of an eye, two days had passed.
In the room at the inn, there were no lights. The moonlight poured in, casting a color of frost. On the bed Fang Yuan sat cross-legged, his eyes closed. He moved his green copper primeval essence, concentrating his mind on refining the Liquor worm. On its body, a small cut had already been dyed the green color of green copper, but the Liquor worm's will was still as tenacious as ever. It constantly struggled in the midst of the ethereal primeval essence.
Fang Yuan's refining process was not going smoothly. It was very difficult.
"I spent two days and two nights, only resting two days each day, and I spent twelve pieces of primeval stone but only managed to refine around 1/15 of progress. Calculating according to the time, I guess someone will succeed in refining their Gu in these few days."
Fang Yuan could see the situation clearly. However his talent was a poor grade anyway, add on the Liquor worm that he was trying to refine having an incredibly tenacious will to live; it was even stronger than a normal Moonlight Gu. The resulting situation of falling behind was normal.
"A moment of falling behind is nothing, as long as I have the Liquor worm…" Fang Yuan's heart was clear like a mirror, not a single trace of anxiety and discouragement in him. Suddenly, the Liquor worm curled up into a ball.
"Oh no, the Liquor worm is counterattacking!" Fang Yuan instantly opened his eyes, a hint of astonishment in his gaze. Before him, the Liquor worm had curled into a round little dumpling, fiercely giving out a blinding white light.
It was risking everything in this one last stand!
At once Fang Yuan felt a strong will coming out from the Liquor worm's body, flowing directly through the primeval essence and descending into the primeval sea in his aperture.
The situation where a Gu counterattacked was incredibly rare. Only Gu with extremely strong will would give their all, it was either success or death. In the face of such a scenario, the usual teenager would be panicking right now.
Though he was surprised, Fang Yuan did not panic; in fact he was somewhat delighted. "Staking everything in one last attempt, this is also a good thing. As long as I can handle this counterattack, the Liquor worm's will shall greatly weaken. However I need to put full focus into fighting back against this will, I cannot receive even the slightest outside interference. Or else that would be bad, sigh… But I hope no one will come and disturb me during this period."
His thoughts finalized, he was ready to gather the primeval essence in his aperture, ready to accept the Liquor worm's will. He would be entangled with it and fight it 300 rounds.
But at this moment, a miraculous event happened!
In the middle of his aperture, just above the sea high in the air, a Gu appeared.
A mighty strong breath erupted from this Gu.
This breath was like the Milky Way pouring out, floodwater rushing down from the mountains, yet it was also like a dreadful beast whose dignity was offended, the beast opening its scarlet red eyes, looking around to see who would dare to violate its territory!
"This is the Spring Autumn Cicada(3)?!" Seeing this Gu, Fang Yuan was completely shocked!!
(1) Cui Cui is just an affectionate way to call Shen Cui.
(2) The novel says [都凝成了一个川字], which means condensed into a 川 word (Chinese words are used to describe things sometimes)
(3) Chun Qiu Gu -> Spring Autumn Cicada, this is my final change: As I studied the novel wondering how to translate various terms and stuff, I decided I will stick with English names for all Gu (unless stated otherwise, but that would be a rare case) so yeah.
Author's Note: (He thanks a bunch of people)
I will keep on going forward, 3 years, 6 years, 9 years… in this period of time, some of you may leave temporarily and some will always stay. In the busy process of human life, we constantly mark our constant existence, and we all prove to each other that we have lived before.
I had imagined this sort of scenario: When we are old, you all will look at 'Gu Zhen Ren' this ID, and will laugh in your hearts: "Oh, its him, when I was young I have read his book before. I even gave him a recommendation vote." Maybe I will open my previous layout and see all these familiar IDs, those that have rewarded, voted and commented before. I will reminisce the times when I was writing alone, these names were the company of my long and difficult journey, giving me warm little lights.
Right here in the book is a small little twist. Fang Yuan will begin to truly show his unique style. Those who were able to read up till here are predestined. I guarantee you right here, this book will become more and more exciting.
T/N: Thank you everyone for reading up till here, and sorry for the long wait! This was such a long chapter to translate, but it is also one of my all time favorite chapters. The sadness and meaning of this chapter has always stayed with me. As the author said, this is the 'turning point' and beginning of the real story… I hope you will give lots of support to the author and I hope to translate even more~