Chapter 16: Trimming Candles1 (I)
There were many ways for cultivators to travel . For those above the Sage realm, they could ride the draft of the wind and travel thousands of li2 in a single day, or know the heavenly methods of splitting apart space and time . And as long as one stepped into the doorway of cultivation, these people could consume their true essence to enhance their speed, or perhaps activate their spiritual artifacts or make use of spiritual beasts .
It was only a pity that in the current world, after experiencing the ‘End of the Spiritualism Era’, the spiritual artifacts for travelling were rarely used by even the large Sects, and spiritual beasts were even more seldom utilized . This was because the survival requirements for spiritual beasts were demanding . Not only did they require a Heavenly spiritual vein to support their well-being, they also needed a Master who they had genuinely acknowledged .
Reportedly, His Highness the Emperor of the Northern Continent——one of the six Sages——kept four blue-winged luan3 to pull his imperial carriage . Every year, they consumed eight hundred thousand crystal stones and sixty thousand catties4 of tourmaline cinnabars .
Under the heavens, the people who could commit their resources to this degree could be counted on one’s fingers .
With regards to Yin BiYue and his party’s current cultivation realms, if they urged their true essence to the extreme, it would merely take half a month to cross the sea and rush to the Northern Continent . But, in Duan ChongXuan’s words, ‘It’s rare to make a trip off the mountain . There’s still enough time, so why should we be anxious about hastening our journey? Eldest senior-apprentice brother’s wish was also to let us wander about more . ’
Toward this, Yin BiYue didn’t have any complaints, because he wanted to understand this world a bit more . Even though his memories were comprised of the information recorded in countless ancient scrolls, how could they compare to real experience?
After seeing how he had nodded his head, Luo MingChuan also nodded in agreement .
After leaving the boundaries of Cang Ya Mountain’s land, they would pass Jin5 City, Yang6 City, and the Pan Long7 mountain range via the fourth main road of the Western Continent . They would head southward, embarking on a ship to leave the Western Continent and crossing over Fu Kong8 Sea . Ultimately, they would meet up with the other Cang Ya Mountain disciples in the Ye9 City of the Southern Continent, before heading toward Zhong Ming Mountain together .
This was their predicted itinerary . To be more precise, it was the route Liu QiShuang had repeatedly thought over, before she finally decided on this . Although it was unlikely they would have a smooth and peaceful journey, they could avoid the extremely dangerous places like the ‘Shi Wan Mountain’ .
In the Jin City that was bustling with horses and carriages, they visited a teahouse and overheard a storyteller gossiping with the customers . In fact, the teahouse, jam-packed with customers, was hyping up the Flower Picking Festival with extravagant embellishments .
In Yang City, they took off their Taoist robes and bought clothes and ornaments of the common folk . Quicker than a whip can crack, their outfits changed and they looked like three young nobles who had left home to study .
What made Yin BiYue surprised was that, as they journeyed on the road, the chatterbox and Luo MingChuan got along really well . Contrary to what one might expect, since he himself wasn’t fond of speaking, most of the interactions were between those two .
With thorough etiquette and gentle smiles as they talked, there was a hint of friendship among gentlemen, insipid as water in their exchanges .
For those who didn’t know, they would assume Luo MingChuan was Duan ChongXuan’s best friend, and not someone he had intentionally targeted at Xi Hua Peak .
Yin BiYue thought, this ought to be the protagonist’s halo winning him over, right?
Two days before they entered the Pan Long mountain range, Duan ChongXuan finally decided to change his clothes .
Yin BiYue also felt uncomfortable since he was always surrounded and stared at because of his hair colour . After thinking about it, he added a ink-black cloak with a hood to their purchase .
Thus, he was currently very satisfied with his own appearance . When he wore his hood, he only revealed his somewhat thin lower jaw . With +10 points to the gloominess trait, he was working full-time as a villainous character!
But when Duan ChongXuan walked out of his inn room after changing, Yin BiYue thought he would go blind .
His current outfit was clearly something that couldn’t be bought anywhere within the whole Yang City, so it definitely had to be something he had brought himself .
That person shook his fan . The collar of his long robes was embroidered with golden threads to create a luan in flight, and he wore a gold headpiece encrusted with amethyst and pearls on his head . The belt around his waist was embroidered with majestic white and gold dragons, coupled with a buckle made with exquisite enamel and coral .
The glimmer of pearls and other precious material adorning this person’s body was enough to blind people . From far away, he looked like a——
Small, moving golden person .
If one said that his previous appearance had a noble aura, as if his clothes were made by the heavens, then currently he looked like a second-generation young master10 who had suddenly gotten rich in a single night . That kind, with a lot of money but who were also equally very stupid .
Yin BiYue guessed that Duan Chatterbox had probably suffered some sort of shock .
However, the chatterbox himself smiled very happily, so it was hard for Yin BiYue to say anything .
When Luo MingChuan came out, there was a moment where he stared blankly at Duan ChongXuan . It was evident that his eyes had also been blinded by this display .
Following that, he immediately coughed once as he turned his head and said, “Let’s go . ”
Yin BiYue could almost see the words ‘cannot bear to look straight at him’ written all over Luo MingChuan’s face .
The shade of the trees were dense, hiding the sky and covering the earth . The refreshing breeze blowing through the gaps of the mountain was completely full of the smell of plants and soil .
The three of them walked on a rugged and winding small path for a long time, and no one spoke the entire way . The sun’s shadow gradually began slanting to the west .
Yin BiYue began pondering . Although nobody had heard of particularly ferocious beasts living in the Pan Long mountain range, was the chatterbox’s current golden outfit—one that reflected light for ten li outwards, really going to be okay?
Speak of the devil and the devil shall appear .
Yin BiYue’s divine consciousness stirred slightly, so he stopped walking forward .
Luo MingChuan also halted .
After the span of five breaths, the sound of rustling noises began echoing from the woods . It seemed as if they were getting increasingly closer to them .
The people who were coming didn’t have good intentions . Their killing intent was extremely heavy, and they seemed to not have even the slightest intention of concealing their schemes .
That was all accompanied by a loud shout, “Stay still for this Elder!” From the forest, more than ten buff men suddenly jumped out .
The one at the head had a long scar across his face and was eight chi11tall . He held a broad axe that was a thousand catty heavy . “Where do you think you’re going? Do you not understand the rules? Today, if you wish to pass the gates of this Elder’s house, silver is alright, spiritual stones are also okay . Leave absolutely everything behind!”
The bandits that followed behind him began agreeing loudly, “If you don’t have those, then just leave behind your life!”
Following their speech, they burst into a peal of roaring laughter and guffaws .
Ever since the bandit leader began speaking, Yin BiYue followed the script and began silently mouthing his lines .
Word for word .
Ah, what a familiar scene!
Not so long ago, he himself was the one who previously held a metal rod in his hand . Oh, no . Back then, he wasn’t even the villain with the opportunity of holding a metal rod!
Yin BiYue was precisely the lackey who had followed after the shamate12 leader with the metal rod—the leader who wore worn-out pants with holes, and bangs that were longer than his face . He would hear the leader say, ‘does the little miss wanna accompany us brothers for some fun’ and then cooperatively, he would smile evilly in silence . After waiting a bit, he would hear someone yell, ‘Halt!’ and then, as the leader yelled, ‘Brothers, get them!’, he would be the one sent flying by a kick from the protagonist .
He wouldn’t even have a single line to say .
When he thought of this, Yin BiYue felt some disdain .
Because, these guys’ personal achievements and accomplishments as a villain weren’t high . Look at the faces of the ones standing in the back; their gazes were absolutely not cruel enough while their expressions were overly rigid!
Yin BiYue gave them a poor evaluation!
Perhaps it was because he was staying by the protagonist’s side, so the script had changed . Yin BiYue counted to three, but still didn’t hear that familiar ‘Halt’ shout .
Instead, he heard someone chuckle gently beside him .
The one who had laughed was Duan Chatterbox .
It was no wonder the chatterbox would laugh . The three of them were people intending to participate in the Flower Picking Festival . Cang Ya’s succeeding disciple and the Sword Saints’ disciples unexpectedly……ran into muggers!
If word of this was spread out, it would be enough for the entire cultivation world to continue laughing for a year .
Yin BiYue took a look at the clothes he and his companions were wearing . Suddenly, he realized that he and Luo MingChuan’s appearances made it seem like they were the attendants accompanying a rich, second-generation young master as he went out to play .
They truly couldn’t blame the little bandit squad for their lack of insight .
Luo MingChuan’s expression was serene, looking neither indignant or angry . It even appeared as if he was planning on speaking reason to them .
Not waiting for Luo MingChuan to speak, Duan ChongXuan began speaking in a calm and composed manner as he shook his fan . “Do you guys know who’s standing beside me?”
The little mugger team blanked for a moment .
In a bold and confident manner, Duan ChongXuan stood behind Luo MingChuan, “This person beside me, is the majestic Cang Ya Mountain’s chief disciple . He’s the next Cang Ya’s Sect Leader, Luo MingChuan, senior-apprentice brother Luo!”
It means to cut off the excess wax around the wick to ensure the flame is not obscured .
里 (lǐ): li, ancient measure of length, approx . 500 m .
鸾 (luán): mythical bird related to phoenix, usually a cooler colour like blue, green, or purple .
1 catty = roughly 500-600g .
晋城 (Jìnchéng): A prefecture-level city in Shanxi, although this is probably a fantastical one named after it . Cheng means city .
旸 (yáng): rising sun, sunshine .
盘龙 (Pánlóng): Panlong district of Kunming city, Yunnan . Probably a fictional take on it .
浮 (fú): floating
空 (kōng): empty, air, sky .
叶 (Yè): leaf .
Someone who was born with a silver spoon and doesn’t blink an eye with flitting away their parent’s money .
尺 (chǐ): Chinese foot, one third of a meter .
杀马特 (shāmǎtè): Chinese subculture of young urban migrants, usually of low education, with exaggerated hairstyles, heavy make-up, flamboyant costumes, piercings etc (loanword from “smart”) .
Chapter 16: Trimming Candles (II)
Afterwards, Duan ChongXuan turned his nostrils up into the air, while his expression was extremely disdaining, like he was in need of a spanking . “Are you guys still not kneeling and calling him daddy?!”
The little bandits’ captain immediately exploded, “Bah! What Cang Ya’s chief disciple? This Elder is actually the Northern Continent’s Emperor himself!”
Duan ChongXuan stared blankly for a moment as his expression became somewhat strange . “No, you’re not . ”
Unfortunately, the little bandit squad had already rushed forward .
However, before they even got ten steps away from the three of them, the bandits were already sent flying away . The one leading them was injured especially seriously . In fact, he had smashed into two big trees before finally hitting the ground .
A barrier made out of incorporeal true essence was what had flicked the bandits away .
Luo MingChuan’s figure didn’t even move .
The little bandit squad laid on the ground and threw up blood . Even if they died, they wouldn’t be able to understand how years of robbery experience suddenly lost their effectiveness . How did their cash cow suddenly turn into an iron panel?
The leader of the bandits had already passed the Essence Cleansing Stage, and could be considered as someone who had stepped into the gateway of cultivation . There were also a few people at the Qi Condensation Stage, but they simply didn’t have the potential to progress even further . For a brigand like this at Pan Long mountain range, dealing with caravans that couldn’t request bodyguards or a lone traveller rushing to their destination was more than enough . There was little spiritual energy at Pan Long mountain range, and there were even fewer heavenly materials or earthly treasures, so cultivators very rarely came there .
Without a doubt, they had all been lured over by the attractive and moving little golden man .
From the moment when the little bandit squad had raised their feet to the time where they laid defeated on the ground, ten seconds had barely passed . Luo MingChuan turned his head and said, “Let’s go . ”
Passing through the sounds of feeble, pained noises and people begging for mercy, the three of them moved on forward .
Like this, at intervals of every ten li1, they came across similar little bandit squads . Even long after it became dark, other bandits still came running at them with lit torches .
Thus, the scene from earlier repeatedly occurred .
Now, Yin BiYue felt that he somewhat understood the reasoning behind Duan ChongXuan’s actions .
However, if he was doing this just to add to Luo MingChuan’s troubles and find fault with him, then this method was truly too crude .
Then, what exactly did the chatterbox want to do?
It couldn’t be because he wanted to rid the mountain of bandits and seek justice on behalf of the heavens, right?
After nightfall, it finally became more peaceful .
The pure yet cold-looking moonlight passed through the murky shadows of trees and spilled onto the ground . The night breeze from the evening time of spring also added some chilliness .
The three of them found a secluded cave . Duan ChongXuan ignited a seal that lit up and then swept the light around the spiderwebs and dried weeds . Then, he took out a Cleansing Evil Pearl and embedded it onto the wall of the cave . In no time, gentle light immediately flowed and illuminated the cave .
Luo MingChuan and Yin BiYue prepared to sit and meditate .
Duan ChongXuan also took out a large, poster bed made out of red sandalwood, with carved flowers and covered in cotton silk, before saying, “Fourth senior-apprentice brother, I have another spare bed, do you want it?”
Yin BiYue had originally thought he had long adapted to Duan ChongXuan’s strange style, but right now, he still couldn’t resist the twitch at the corner of his mouth . “No need . ”
In a rather regretful tone, Duan ChongXuan said, “Oh”, before he got onto his bed and went to sleep .
The shadow of the moon sat in the west . In a tilting manner, they illuminated the cave and began reflecting with the brilliance of the Cleansing Evil Pearl .
With the tranquilness of the night, the only sounds left were the cries of animals and insects, and the rustling sounds of the forest as the wind blew through them .
The cave wasn’t very big, so the meditating Yin BiYue and Luo MingChuan were only three chi2 away from each other .
In the cultivation world, this was the distance that would offend someone the least .
If the other party was a stranger, staying less than three chi close to them was something extremely rude .
If the other party was an enemy, being less than three chi away from them implied danger .
Yin BiYue felt a bit uncomfortable .
He didn’t know whether or not it was the reflexes that were left in this body, or if it was himself being on guard .
After entering the Soul Manifestation stage, a cultivator’s five senses became extremely keen . Even if one was not being deliberate, they could still feel the exhalation and inhalation of the person beside them . In fact, he could even sense the slightly cool night’s various……temperatures .
As time elapsed and the sky gradually sank in colour, this kind of feeling was magnified by a few times .
He did not know whether or not the Luo MingChuan, who had always adhered to the rules and etiquette, was as uncomfortable as he was . Or perhaps, the other was immersed in his meditative breathing and had entered his best state . Maybe Luo MingChuan was already planning on taking out a spiritual stone to begin cultivating . After all, he was a spiritual cultivator, so he would always bring spiritual stones with him .
On the contrary, Luo MingChuan was recalling the past .
He felt that this kind of feeling was extremely familiar, as if they had returned to the Night Library of the Lan Yuan Academy . The icily arrogant and silent teenager sat at the table in front of him, where the slightly yellow halo emanating from the green lamp fell upon the side of his face . Ineffably, it caused people to see an illusion of tenderness .
And as for himself?
Luo MingChuan was once again sitting at the table beside this teenager . Like Yin BiYue, he had a lit lamp, and his table was also home to a pile of thick scrolls .
When he got tired of reading, Luo MingChuan would look at the other boy .
Although the teenager had an air of childishness because of his facial features, he was still very good-looking . If Luo MingChuan got to steal more glances of him, it felt as if he could relieve his tiredness . Yin BiYue had always been single-mindedly devoted to studying, so he had never discovered Luo MingChuan’s small, bad habit .
The Night Library and the Book Collection Pavilion were connected by a hallway in the air . Some books weren’t permitted to be checked out . They were books that needed to be finished in a single night, so students would go there to read them .
Luo MingChuan didn’t frequently visit that place . However, every time he did go, it seemed like he would always see this teenager there, sitting in his regular seat under the window in the West .
Sometimes, he couldn’t help but break into chuckles, “Junior-apprentice brother, ah . You are still so young, frequently pulling all-nighters mean you won’t grow tall . ”
This sentence, he had thought countless times in his heart, but he had never spoken it out loud .
Because the teenager seemed to really hate people saying he was young .
For students who studied at night, when they became too tired, they would often chat a few sentences in a low tone to their neighbour . This could allow one to freshen up and perhaps also make a new friend .
However, although he and this teenager sat at adjacent tables numerous times, they had never spoken to each other even once .
They hadn’t talked because there was never a tired expression on this teenager’s face, and more importantly, he never showed the intent of speaking .
Thus, Luo MingChuan became unable to take the liberty of bothering him .
Until one time, the teenager stared at his green lamp, before slightly furrowing his brows .
The Academy advocated simplicity, so they didn’t have bronze oil lamps . However, when a green lamp was lit for a long time, the lampwick would split in half and the light would dim .
Luo MingChuan glanced at him and couldn’t help but start laughing . In a soft and low voice, he asked, “This junior-apprentice brother, did you forget to bring candle scissors?”
The teenager inclined his head toward him . The black and white of his pupils and eyes looked distinct, reflecting the warm yellow of the candle light as the icy arrogance from daytime subsided, “Yes . ”
In response, Luo MingChuan stood up to help him cut his candle . He slightly leaned over the other’s body, long hair hanging down like a curtain . He was close enough to the teenager to see the delicate shadows created by his fluttering eyelashes . The shadows of the two people were imprinted on the window in the West, looking as if they had combined into one .
A moment later, the table became as brightly lit as before . Luo MingChuan also retreated to a polite distance .
The teenager nodded at him, “Many thanks . ”
“Junior-apprentice brother is too polite,” Luo MingChuan set down his candle scissors and then introduced himself, “I am from the Eastern Continent’s Qiongzhou3, Luo MingChuan . ”
“Central Continent’s Ying An4 City, Yin BiYue . ”
These were the first words they had spoken to each other, even after entering the Academy for an entire year . It was also some of the very few words they said to each other within their three years at the Academy .
Light and darkness intertwined within the Night Library . The accumulated scrolls and thick documents lying within a folder remained untouched, and the light from the green lamp exploded outward, resembling a blossoming flower .
Time stopped at that very moment .
Yin BiYue thought Luo MingChuan must be feeling uncomfortable too, because his aura was unstable .
Fortunately, it was already three quarters into Mao Shi5, and the sky was slightly lightening up . Holding his sword, Yin BiYue walked out of the cave .
A morning breeze brushed past his face, blowing away his confused feelings that had lasted an entire night .
Daybreak was about to arrive . It was precisely a good time to practice one’s sword .
里 (lǐ): li, ancient measure of length, approx . 500 m .
尺 (chǐ): Chinese foot, one third of a meter .
琼州 (Qióngzhōu): Either a fictional version of Qiongzhou, the historic name for Hainan Island, or Jade (Qiong) River (Zhou) .
颍安 (YǐngĀn): Ying means grain husk, An means calm .
Mao Shi is 5AM-7AM, so this is around 6:30AM .