Yin Biyue intentionally restrained himself, so in this round of drinking he was very clear-headed. He avoided the embarrassment of babbling drunken nonsense.
Early the next morning the two of them set off. Basking in the pale morning light, Yin Biyue took one last look at the gate of Ye City.
The black brick city wall and the bronze gate, majestic and grand.
He thought, who knew how many years would pass until he got lucky enough to have time to revisit this familiar place1.
To get from Ye City to Xingshan Temple, crossing the Tixiang Mountain Range would be a lot faster than going through the Southern Continent’s main roads.
Because the demonic cultivators incident two days ago had caused an excessive commotion, twenty miles outside Ye City, the village at the foot of Tixiang Mountain was especially quiet; every household had locked up their doors, and the road was completely empty, with only kitchen chimney smoke rising in spirals.
Yin Biyue and Luo Mingchuan entered the mountain range. Since the Southern Continent entered autumn this year, the wind and rain had gone uninterrupted. The soil in the mountains was loose and damp; the branches and leaves in the forests hid the sky and covered the sun.
There was none of the bright sunlight of summer, only dense fog pervading the air. If they weren’t cultivators, they would practically be unable to see further than three feet.
The two of them walked upon the rugged mountain path, at a pace not too swift nor too slow, but the mountain view on both sides retreated at a flying speed. Right now their cultivation levels were much higher than when they had crossed the Panlong Mountain; even if it was like taking a leisurely stroll in a courtyard, they could still shrink distances to an inch2, traveling hundreds of miles in a day.
By evening, they had already traversed a half of the continuous and unending Tixiang Mountain Range.
As the daylight gradually dimmed, Luo Mingchuan stopped, “Let’s first rest for a night in the mountain and continue traveling tomorrow morning.”
Yin Biyue naturally had no objections.
According to the everyday pattern of work and rest, nights were usually times to sit and regulate breaths or to meditate and cultivate.
The topography of Tixiang Mountains was not actually steep, but instead it had a bit of a graceful remoteness; and naturally formed caves were easy to find.
A trace of the moon appeared at first, but it was separated from the world by the crisscrossing branches; only a faint silvery light flowed down, illuminating a small cliff beside the cave.
Yet, the Cloud boots3 that stepped on the moist and spongy soil had suddenly stopped.
Yin Biyue turned his head to look. Luo Mingchuan’s expression was serene; he had only grabbed his wrist and was shaking his head.
Then he released his Divine Sense and floated inside the cave, but it was just a strip of pitch-black inside, absolutely nothing to be found.
This moment Yin Biyue was suddenly on guard.
A cave in the mountains might have cobwebs or vines or insects or even a fierce beast, but it shouldn’t have absolutely nothing.
Unless there were people inside.
If they were also traveling cultivators, then this place already had an owner, and they should naturally find another spot.
But Luo Mingchuan sensed a demonic atmosphere.
Because his consciousness was unusual, Yin Biyue’s Divine Sense far exceeded his cultivation realm; thus, settling down his heart, he could also sense it.
It really was a demonic atmosphere. But it was unlike the gloomy cold they had seen by Lake Qiu—this trace of a demonic atmosphere was even more brutal and agitated, and it was even mixed with the reek of blood.
Dao cultivators and demonic cultivators have accumulated grievances against each other for millions of years and have reached the state of fighting to the last breath long ago. Even if those who came here today were not Cang Ya’s head disciple and a Sword Saint disciple, but ordinary cultivators, and if there was enough strength for a fight, it was unlikely they would look on with folded arms4.
Yin Biyue’s right hand subconsciously closed on his sword hilt.
But Luo Mingchuan stopped him.
He then used voice transmission to speak, “There is only one demonic cultivator inside, their cultivation realm is not yet equal to mine; for the time being, Shidi should stay outside the cave. Don’t come inside.”
Yin Biyue didn’t draw out his sword anymore and decided to rely on Shixiong’s method.
If he himself recklessly attacked, he might instead drag Shixiong down.
Luo Mingchuan saw him nod, and he took a step towards the interior of the cave, his figure disappearing from where he was.
Yin Biyue was very close to him, but he couldn’t feel even one thread of core energy rippling.
At this moment his Divine Sense was drifting towards the cave’s interior, and he could sense the demonic atmosphere spilling out from the depths of the cavern; yet he couldn’t feel Luo Mingchuan’s presence.
Luo Bingchuan had spread a layer of barrier across his entire body.
His Jia Lan Pupil Arts had already cultivated to the third level. Not only could he see through others’ cultivation techniques, he could make himself unable to be seen through.
The cultivation realm he revealed right now was merely in the Soul Condensing Stage; a chaotic pace and unsteady breath, like an ordinary cultivator who had hastily rushed for an entire day on the road and came to the cave to rest and spend the night. Exhausted and not on guard.
A dark mountain cavern, where the moonlight couldn’t shine in.
The sound of water dripping onto a rock came from within the depths of the cave, each sound especially distinct, echoing unendingly.
Some of the techniques cultivated through demonic cultivation required venting out anger, some required fresh flesh and blood, and some required rotten corpses and dried-up bones.
Darkness was the most natural cover; limitless demonic breaths, bubbling forth like the tide.
Luo Mingchuan stood inside the cave, as if completely unaware. Only his face revealed a suspicious expression, supporting himself on the coarse and damp rock wall.
If he really was a Soul Condensing Stage cultivator, right now he already couldn’t raise a single strand of core energy.
Maybe it was because the cultivation realm he arrived at was low, the demonic cultivator hadn’t been very cautious.
Concealed in the center of the demonic atmosphere, an arm clad in black robe abruptly extended, five fingers like an iron hook, grabbed straight at his neck!
With only the rustling sound of wind, Luo Mingchuan at the very last moment actually managed to sidestep this strike!
Right now the two people were extremely close to each other, Chen Zhou at Luo Mingchuan’s waist was mournfully unsheathed!
The instant the other party sensed danger, he swiftly retreated without the slightest hesitation.
But Luo Mingchuan’s one strike was too unexpected; with the power stored for a long time, the might of the Lesser Vessel Stage came right at him and pressed down, completely sealing off all of his escape routes!
Under the point of the silver sword, that person suddenly lifted his hand, but not towards Luo Mingchuan; rather he smacked towards his own chest!
He was blown out like a kite with its string cut in a gale by this strike, ruthlessly knocked against the cave wall!
A giant impact shook the entire cavern.
That seemingly suicidal strike caused him to suffer a very heavy wound, even breaking two of the ribs in his chest cavity. But it also gave him incomparable speed, allowing him to retreat from under Luo Mingchuan’s sword!
In comparison of the two, this was already the lightest injury.
Luo Mingchuan’s expression was slightly astounded; he hadn’t thought the other party had this kind of cutting-one’s-own-wrist5 determination, striking at himself without the slightest hesitation.
Only after experiencing countless life-or-death battles could one form this sort of extremely fearful fighting intuition.
But he didn’t pause the slightest bit and struck with his sword once again!
Right at this instant, a sword light attacked from the cave entrance, like lightning cleaving open the night sky, in a flash illuminating the whole cavern.
It also illuminated the stern eyebrows of the sword-wielding white-haired young man.
Just then, Yin Biyue had felt a surge of demonic breath, and worry rose up high in his heart. Then he also heard the rumble inside the cavern and saw half the mountain wall trembling; his mind jolted, and without thinking he seized his sword and charged into the cavern.
Luo Mingchuan saw Yin Biyue enter out of the corner of his eye, his sword unconsciously slowing for a breath. Even though it was only for the duration of this one breath, it was already enough for the opponent with keen combat instincts to disappear from his original place.
Everything all around had been contaminated by the demonic atmosphere, the spiritual energy of the heavens and the earth were cut off and separated outside. Yin Biyue’s cultivation realm was limited, his core energy moving sluggishly and roughly, unable to fully put to use his sword.
The sword strike just then had missed. Without being given a chance to resurge, he then suddenly felt a pain in his back, like a sharp blade piercing his bones!
It was too late to turn around; Yin Biyue flipped his sword to strike behind his back, but he only saw a flash of white before it faded and was pushed out by a gentle force.
Once he had been pushed straight to the cave’s entrance could he make an effort to stop.
Only then did he realize there hadn’t been a sharp blade at all, but instead concentrated killing intent.
He looked back; Luo Mingchuan stood where he had just been.
Chen Zhou passed through that person’s heart meridians, nailing him to the ground.
The thick scent of blood pervaded the entire cavern.
Everything had happened within an instant, from Yin Biyue’s entrance to the demonic cultivator collapsing. In a flash, the dust had settled.
Yin Biyue stepped forward; he saw the vast jet-black bloodstain spilling out underneath the black robe, and the pale face frozen in a twisted and malevolent expression.
Luo Mingchuan extricated his sword, blood splattering; his hand was very steady, the expression on his face indifferent.
The corpse caved in and shriveled up with a speed that could be seen with the naked eye; In the blink, it became a skeleton, jet-black watery blood seeping into the earth, leaving no other trace.
Luo Mingchuan turned his head and saw Yin Biyue standing there blankly staring at him; his gaze lost and confused, expression desolate.
His heart startled, could he have frightened Shidi?
Yin Biyue hung his head, gaze falling upon Luo Mingchuan’s right arm that was grasping the sword; there was a small wound there. The bleeding had already stopped, but there was still the black demonic atmosphere, lingering like coiling strands of smoke.
He said, “Shixiong, you’re wounded.”
Luo Mingchuan relaxed and smiled, “Just a flesh wound, it’s nothing.”
He circulated his core energy around for one cycle, and already the demonic atmosphere dispersed, the wound completely healing. There was only a small section of the white robe that had been soaked in blood. In the pitch-black of the night, if one wasn’t looking for it, it was absolutely unnoticeable.
Yin Biyue pursed his lips and didn’t say anything.
If he hadn’t haphazardly charged in at the end, Luo Mingchuan wouldn’t have been injured on account of being distracted by watching over him.
“It’s fine now. Let’s go.”
Yin Biyue let Luo Mingchuan pull him by the wrist, all the way until they exited the cave.
Following the sound of water, they ambled to a small creek.
Under the silver moonlight, the babbling creek flowed over mountain rocks, and water droplets like silver pebbles splashed upon the moss beside the creek.
Luo Mingchuan started to wash his sword, smiling and saying,
“Shidi, you did very well. When I was your age, I wouldn’t be able to do this well.”
Yin Biyue still didn’t say anything.
He knew that Shixiong was consoling him.
But he still considered himself very useless.
Just like in every Qidian novel6, there were stupid teammates following the protagonist and freeloading experience that would in the end even cause the protagonist to get injured.
He once again desperately longed to become strong, just like that night coming back from the Academy—it was also under this kind of clear, cold moonlight, where he felt he must grasp control of his own life.
Strong enough that at least when Luo Mingchuan fought against people, he could remain on the side and not be anxious somewhere where he couldn’t see the situation. Even better, if he could fight alongside him, instead of becoming his weak spot.
This was the first time Luo Mingchuan had seen Shidi so depressed.
In the past although Shidi hadn’t said much, over time, they got to know each other, and he could already perceive his moods.
Shidi was worried for him; this made a warm feeling trickle through Luo Mingchuan’s heart, comfortably warm. But at the same time, even greater was his self-blame—if he was stronger, strong enough to make it through unscathed, without getting wounded, Shidi wouldn’t feel sad and blame himself.
Luo Mingchuan gazed at the Yin Biyue lost in contemplation, not knowing how to soothe him.
Inexplicably7, the hand that was cupping water to wash his sword lifted, and he directly pinched the youth’s face.
The touch felt exquisitely smooth and soft, even the best quality silk could not compare to a thousandths of this.
Bringing the moisture of the cold creek water, it was like mutton fat jade8 immersed in ice water.
Yin Biyue suddenly felt like there was something cold on his face, and he lifted his eyes, astonished, to see Luo Mingchuan.
His wide-eyed surprised expression made Luo Mingchuan laugh out loud. After pinching again for a bit, he let go, “Shidi, if you keep being unhappy, I’ll continue pinching your face!”
Yin Biyue immediately covered his face. But then he felt like he was losing face by feeling embarrassed, and he hastily put his hands back down.
Glaring, he said in what he thought was a very serious and upright voice, “Shixiong! In two years I’ll come of age! I’m not a child anymore!”
The implication was that Luo Mingchuan shouldn’t pinch his face as if he was a small child.
Luo Mingchuan gave a slight cough and seriously said, “Yes, Shixiong understands.”
He put his hand behind his back, rubbing the pads of his fingers together, as if that soft feeling was still there.
But after the joking around just then, Yin Biyue was no longer depressed, regaining his spirits.
He was really shocked just now, because in his memory, Luo Mingchuan had never joke around with anyone before, shedding the usual appearance of being proper and rule-abiding, as if…more real and lively.
But no matter what kind of Shixiong, he was his Shixiong.
And he himself would also grow stronger and stronger, just like Shixiong.
An old temple hidden deep in the mountains.
Xingshan Temple was one of the Double Buddhist Temples; regarding traditions and orthodox Buddhist techniques, they were above Jie Kong Temple. It was the sacred ground that all Buddhist cultivators under the heavens yearned for.
The place closest in the world to Buddha.
But this place was not a vast hall, nor was it a grand pavilion of Buddha’s teachings. It was only a remote room.
Ancient roof beams rotten and decaying; dim lanterns flickering.
In front of a table sat an old monk clutching prayer beads, appearance haggard, and his face merciful.
He held a paper over a leaping candle flame, and it instantly became flying ash, dispersed by the night wind pouring in through the window, with traces difficult to find.
Just like how after he had cultivated Buddhism for many years, the affairs of the world were like clouds passing before his eyes9.
The monk clad in gray robes standing at his side wanted to say something but hesitated, “Shishu…”
The old monk proclaimed the verse of Amitabha Buddha, unhurriedly saying, “If one holds Buddhist doctrines to heart, killing people and saving people are both mercies. The Academy Director, Master Wu Wang, and myself have all made the same choice.”
The young monk lowered his eyes, “Disciple receives your teachings.”
1) This is a a proverb that means to revisit old places (旧地重游).
2) Original Chinese is 缩地成寸, which is shrinking the earth to an inch. Similar idea to shortening distances through space and time.
3) 云靴 (cloud boots) are men’s Hanfu boots.
4) This is a proverb that describe being a nonparticipating spectator (袖手旁观)
5) The original Chinese is 壮士断腕 which has the implication that a warrior will immediately sever his wrist when bitten by a snake. A metaphor for making prompt decisions.
6) Qidian is a novel-hosting site with novels that are mostly geared toward males.
7) A proverb that can be translated as demons and gods at work (鬼使神差). It means an unexplained happenings that begs a supernatural explanation.
8) A mutton fat jade (羊脂白玉) is a type of jade.
9) This is a Chinese proverb: 过眼云烟, it means to not be attached to worldly possessions.Please download our sponsor's game to support us!