Yunyang city, the fourth night of snowfall .
The galloping sound of the horse-drawn carriages, the loud shouts of the servants, the delicate and beautiful sounds of bamboo flutes, the cries of children–all faded away into the thickening night .
A night like this, without the crisp moonlight illuminating the vermillion doors of manors, nor jade green wine cups, nor scarlet dancing dresses .
One could only hear sounds of branches cracking under the pressure of heavy snow- the violent winds howling through alleys mixed with the sounds of silver bells crashing into each other beneath the cornices, their chorus long and ear-piercing .
Swirling snowflakes covered the sky and smothered the earth, pulled skyward by strong swirling winds before having the chance to settle, like seafoam scattered onto the limestone paving the streets . The accumulating snow on the streets that were swept away by the servants of the residences during the day piled up again in a thick layer then, looking unfortunately like another round of hard work before daybreak .
In this kind of city accustomed to perfect weather and bustling spirits¹, under the onslaught of a once-in-century snowstorm, there were certainly the aromas of wine and meat behind its red doors of the wealthy residences, yet rare is the sight of a frozen corpse on the streets² .
After all in this rich city, even the beggars and the stray cats lived with excess . Who didn’t have a place under a bridge to shelter from the snow, or a pile of hay to shelter from the wind?
On the deserted grand street stretching ten li through the city³, suddenly there rang the crunch of snow being tread upon, from far to near, with an intriguing tempo, neither fast nor slow .
Traveling in the blustery night, steps unlike someone anxious to return home, but that of an absent-minded traveler .
Hung above the vermilion doors to the residences, the lanterns emitted a yellow light; they swung in the wind, sometimes slamming against the white walls . The yellow light was flickering weakly, dyeing a warm color onto the snow mounds beneath, tricking passerbys into the illusion of warmth .
The light shone upon the traveler too .
He wore a white, light outer cloak made from fur, with shoes embroidered with clouds, and held in his hand was an azure oil paper umbrella edged in gold . A long sword was tied on his narrow waist, swaying slightly each time he took a step, like a finely crafted accessory .
He came through the snow–he should’ve been ankle-deep in the thick snow cover, but there was only the slightest trace left beneath his cloud-embroidered shoes .
He walked along under the roofs of the red-doored manors, all the way to the innermost corner, where the sounds of howling winds and shaking trees became strangely calm .
In the corner where even the lantern’s light couldn’t reach, there was a black shadow folded tightly into itself .
At this moment, the shadow suddenly raised its head, but only to glance at the newcomer, and quickly lowered it once again .
Yet the newcomer didn’t leave, as if either he had discovered something quite interesting, or perhaps the journey in the blizzarding night was just a tad too lonely . He evaluated the child in front of him, so thin to the point where only skin and bones were left .
The child’s old tattered clothing was half covered by a straw-weaved sleeping mat . Leaning against the corner, he held the position that conserved the most warmth and strength .
This sort of weather, even fox fur blankets couldn’t provide enough warmth . It was unclear how long this child had stayed here; dark green bruises already developed below his eyes, his breaths labored . Even if he could still maintain consciousness, he would quietly pass away in the middle of the night .
The newcomer had not one bit of pity, but as though he just thought of something, he asked, “Did you want to attend Lan Yuan Academy?”
The voice was that of a youth still in the middle of his voice-changing period .
The child frowned . He felt like opening his mouth to speak would be a big waste . But he remembered that it was extremely disrespectful to not answer a question when asked .
He had a clear understanding of how to conserve energy, spitting out a word, soft to the point of going nearly unheard, weak yet concise,
“Yes . ”
The newcomer smiled, “This old man is Wei Jingfeng . Do you want to be my disciple?”
There was no one that did not know of the name, Wei Jingfeng . Even more so, no one dared to pretend to be him . All this despite this person looking like a young master who’d openly ride a horse to purchase company⁴ .
But who ever said the Sword Saint couldn’t be a young man?
The name alone was enough to change the colors of the clouds, wind, earth, and sky .
Regretfully, on this night, the only ones who heard were a child and the windy snowy sky . There wasn’t to be some moving scene where someone shed tears for being graced by greatness .
The child paid no attention to his introduction nor the disappointment . Without even batting an eye, instead he asked, “What good is it?”
Wei Jingfeng thought it was a little funny; it had been many years since someone had asked him this kind of question .
But he didn’t laugh, because the child asked very seriously . He truly did not know what benefits it could bring .
He gave it some thought, and replied in all earnest as well, “As my disciple, if you want authority, you can be the highest of advisors to emperors, power vast as the sky, riches that rival entire nations, worshiped by many . Countless people will flock to kneel at your feet, like ants begging for a glance from you . ”
The child said nothing, remaining the same position against the wall to save energy .
Wei Jingfeng continued, “If you want to cultivate, you can join Cang Ya, to cultivate the best swordsmanship . You would become very strong; everyone will respect you and fear you . Should you desire, with one movement, a million lives will litter the earth , and blood could flow like rivers⁵ . It would be up to you to determine who lives and who dies, and none would dare to interfere . ”
Snap . A branch broke from the weight of the snow piled on it . The icy wind kept getting colder .
Even in the ever growing wind, Wei Jingfeng still heard clearly–the child replied,
“No . ”
An answer without much thought yet with enough seriousness made him a little surprised and… puzzled .
The youth frowned a little, “Why? What the Lan Yuan Academy can give you, I can give a hundred times more . ”
The child truly did not want to open his mouth again, but out of manners, he explained the reason,
“They have free food . ”
“Ha ha ha ha ha ——”
Wei Jingfeng released a long string of laughter, his laugh echoed into the expansive sky, with so much force that the snow on the roof fell off, and the withered branches slightly shook .
When he finished laughing, as if in an extremely good mood, he said, “I too will cover your meals . ”
The child raised his eyes at last, black-colored eyes stared at him intensely, as if to figure out if his free meals comment was trustworthy .
Wei Jingfeng almost stomped his feet, “This old man is the great Sword Saint; would I lie to you?! Don’t you know! How many would come running…”
“Okay . ”
Wei Jingfeng froze, because the child pulled on his wide sleeve .
Almost instinctively, even towards that too-skinny arm, he thought of slapping it away .
But he endured it . The feeling was very foreign, because it had been many years since anyone touched him . Everyone gave him great respect upon meeting, keeping a distance from him . Those who came close all had the intention to kill him, and they’ve all died .
The emaciated child held onto the cloak, and he shakily stood up . Then he released his hands .
On the white cloak was left a black handprint .
The child mused a bit, then he said, “Sorry . ”
Wei Jingfeng felt a little regret .
Not because of his whimsical way of taking in a disciple, but because he didn’t know how to reply . No one had ever said that word to him .
His past few centuries did not include having a civil conversation with another person .
He had tried, but he had always been considered provocative or disdainful, always ending up enraging others into drawing swords, just to end up beating or killing them .
Just like right then, he himself did not see anything wrong with what he said, everything he said was the truth . But to the ears of someone else, they would take it as him standing upon some pedestal, handing out his pity .
Thus, he truly did not know how to do anything with others… Or in this case, with a disciple .
What should he say in a moment like this?
“It’s fine . ”
Right, as shifu, how could he let his disciple see his lack of experience in common human interactions .
The child was also quiet . He didn’t know what to say either, ‘Greetings shifu‘ or ‘An honor to meet shifu?’ How did others adopt disciples? He didn’t know .
In reality, during his journey from the rural north to Yunyang in the Central Continent, he didn’t speak much .
The servant that looked after him was dead; before dying he told him to go to Yunyang, see the world, that it’d be best if he could find an academy to study at . After he gave the old man a burial, he left with only two sets of clothes . The little pocket change he had was used up before even arriving at Yunyang . Because of his young age and his large appetite, even with increasing strength, no one wanted to hire him .
Tuition at other academies wasn’t cheap; of course he couldn’t pay . In the past half month, in what was already the bustling Yunyang City, the number of people increased like the swelling ocean . It was hard to take even half a step . He had just heard of Lan Yuan Academy wanting to open its doors for new disciples . The academy was great, with no tuition fee, providing free food, life lessons, and teaching skills .
Naturally he wasn’t waiting here this entire time . Before this, the child had taken shelter in an old abandoned boat . Upon hearing the news in recent days of the academy opening for new disciples’ exams, he came to the entrance to wait .
Even till now, he still did not understand why when he had asked about taking an exam to get into the academy, others had given him strange looks, as if they couldn’t believe their eyes . With complicated and twisted smiles, they had asked, “With your appearance, you still want to go into the academy?”
He didn’t get it . Was it because he eats too much that he can’t go in? Then he just needed to eat less and all should be good…
In the end, he had trusted what someone else had told him —— ‘The school takes in students at its doors in consecutive order . ’ —— and waited at the corner for three days . He thought if others had to come wait anyhow, may as well go line up first .
He wasn’t able to wait for the doors to open, but he was able to wait out a Wei Jingfeng .
The atmosphere felt a bit awkward .
Apparently, this was the worst pair of shifu-disciple in history when it comes to communication .
Wei Jingfeng held the umbrella over the child’s head . With some thought, he took off his fur cloak, and draped it over the child’s body .
A shifu… should be like this, right?
The fox fur cloak was huge on him, dragging out a long stretch on the ground behind the child . He looked like some royalty from the Northern Imperial Capital .
The child shifted a little, thinking it wasn’t terribly convenient to walk with .
But it was definitely very warm .
Wei Jingfeng, with one hand holding the umbrella, one hand leading the child, slowed his pace .
“What is your name?”
“A disciple of the Sword Saint can’t be using a name like this . ” The youth frowned in thought, “Glorious one, brilliant besides- to mean the flourishing of splendour, from now on your name will be Jun Yu… ⁶Truly a great name!”
His eyes moved away from the sign ‘Yu He Ji Bakery⁷ . ’
Jun Yu didn’t have any objection; to him, a name was just a way to be called, not to mention not many people called his name . Thus, he had no opinion .
The youth held his umbrella, tugging the child’s hand .
Silhouettes, one big, one small, walked further away into the distance .
The night grew even darker, the snowy winds blurred their silhouettes .
A lone boat in the rainy night drifted unsteadily on the Minchuan River, much like a fallen leaf swirling in the current .
The light within the cabin was small like a pea . Two people sat across from each other, and the hot wine on the table had long grown cold .
The youth wiped his sword with great concentration .
“Even when understanding the great dao and dharma with heavenly laws, things hardly ever go as planned . In this world, where could there be absolute freedom? You don’t understand this now, like those who don’t study the sword, they won’t ever understand the sword . I’m afraid you will have to wait until the day when you don’t want to let go to understand…”
Yin Biyue still didn’t understand . In his eyes, his cheap shifu here was the most willful and unrestrained character of this world,
“What does not wanting to let go mean?”
Wei Jingfeng thought it over, deciding to give an example .
“When I was young, no matter if I was reaching for the umbrella, wine, or money, I would always leave one hand free–do you know why?”
Yin Biyue thought for a bit,
“With one free hand, it’d be easy to reach for the sword at any time . ”
Wei Jingfeng smiled, pleased, “Correct! If I didn’t have a free hand to reach for the sword at any time, I would feel empty inside . I’d be uncomfortable all over!”
His gaze fell upon the night rain on the river, as if gazing into the distant past, his speech slowing too,
“The first time this old man met your Eldest Shixiong, the snow was really heavy that night, as though snow was covering the sky and earth entirely… Your Eldest Shixiong couldn’t walk straight . One of my hands held the umbrella, and my other hand held him . I didn’t have a third hand; how could I have drawn the sword?”
“But I didn’t feel one bit uncomfortable . I just felt that holding onto his hand and holding the umbrella was enough . ”
“Many years later, I realized, that was me not wanting to let go . ”
1) 风调雨顺、烈火烹油 The first is a very common idiom to mean good weather/smooth sailing/ease of path ect, but the origin is weather that is good for crops and references the four heavenly kings . The second if translated literally is “high heat to to heat oil to deep fry” . If you’ve ever heard the loud and vigourous splattering of fryer oil after you’ve dropped something into it, think that, but in the attitudes of people .
2) 朱门里发臭酒肉定是有的, 路边上冻死骨却难得一见。In reference to a famous line in 自京赴奉先县咏怀五百字 (Five Hundred Words of Yonghuai From Beijing to Fengxian) that describes the lavishness of life within the rich mansions and the poor starving and freezing to death on the streets . In this case it is reversing the meaning of the latter portion, and the poor do not starve .
3) 十里长街- a reference to the most famous street of both modern and classic China . It’s a large street in Chang’an and generally means a large, long, important main road .
4) 走马章台的少年公子 – We’ve seen this before in chapter 50, so here’s a copy paste: someone who rides a horse (and thus proudly) into Zhang Tai Street, a street that was filled with brothels in ancient Chang’an . The term used here is youthful gongzi, which is usually the son of a noble or wealthy family .
5) 伏尸百万, 流血漂橹 [fú shī bǎi wàn] is to describe the bodies of corpses lying on the ground after war . From Strategies of the Warring States . [liú xuè piāo lǔ] means for blood to flow into a river that can float a shield . From Guo Qin Lun, a thesis on the faults of the Qin dynasty .
6) [煜者，燿也…君煜] Yù zhě, yàoyě . Yu and yao are synonyms, meaning glorious/brilliant . Jun is the character for gentleman/noble/lord . Without caring about style and just for meaning, this line would be “brilliant (jun) one, glorious (yao) [as well], with the meaning of the rise of exuberant light . From now on you shall be called Jun Yu”
7) 煜和记糕点 . Shifu is not a good person v_v . Basically he stole his name off the bakery nearby .Please download our sponsor's game to support us!