Thousand Autumns – Chapter 12
Quality Check: Noa
First published on Ainushi.
Synopsis: Everyone was stunned.
Many people had heard since long ago that Yan Wushi handled matters in rather eccentric and unpredictable ways. In fact, Bai Rong was quite happy deep down after hearing him giving such a speech.
She was the only one from the Harmony Sect tonight. In the presence of Zen Master Xueting, Yan Wushi and the others, there was no way that she would be able to gain the remaining book of The Strategy of the Vermillion Yang even if she were in her best condition, not to mention the fact that she had also been injured.
If they did what Yan Wushi said, she would have the opportunity to hear a word or two. Not to mention how much she herself would benefit from it, she could at least have something to turn in after she went back.
After thinking it through, she stared closely at the bamboo tube in Shen Qiao's hands, without moving her gaze even an inch.
Murong Qin and the others all had the same reaction as Bai Rong. Zen Master Xueting was the only one not in favor of it, saying, "Sect Master Yan, this person does not belong to the pugilistic world. If he reads aloud the content of the book today, then as the news gets spread out in the future and when other people covet The Strategy of the Vermillion Yang yet can't find it, it's inevitable that some malicious evildoers would choose to lay their hands on him. You may not have killed him yourself, but he would die because of you!"
Yan Wushi replied lazily, "Old bald donkey, isn't it hypocritical for you to say this? You must have read the book kept in the Imperial Palace of Zhou while you were still their Great Perceptor. Also, you were originally a disciple of the Tiantai Sect. Your master Huiwen hadn't died yet when you betrayed the sect. Judging by how much he valued you, you've probably read the one kept in the Tiantai Sect as well. In addition to the book tonight, you've already obtained three out of the five books. Aren't you precisely the kind of person that 'Pretending to be a victim after taking advantage' refers to?"
Surprisingly, Murong Qin also agreed to Yan Wushi's words and sneered at Xueting, "Great Master, you sure have the demeanor of an expert. You can just leave if you don't want to listen to it. Why the need to hinder other people's future? Could the reason that you insist on giving lengthy lectures here be that you're dissatisfied because you didn't get to have it all to yourself?"
Zen Master Xueting let out a sigh and eventually stopped talking.
Yan Wushi only pressed two fingers against the crucial acupoint on Shen Qiao's back and said to him, "Read."
To other people's eyes, it appeared as if Yan Wushi was threatening him, but only Shen Qiao knew that the person seemed to have used some sort of secret art and opened up part of his clogged meridians in a flash. A warm stream of inner qi flowed across his entire body immediately afterwards. As the view in front of his eyes gradually became clear, he started to see just like a normal person.
Nobody would have thought that Yan Wushi was the one who saved Shen Qiao's life. However, despite having such a relationship between them, Shen Qiao would never believe that Yan Wushi would treat him favorably. A vague idea came to his mind and his opinion towards this person was shaded by one more layer of coldness.
Shen Qiao resigned himself to picking up the bamboo tube and slowly unscrewed it open, taking out a set of bamboo slips  rolled up into a scroll.
The bamboo slips were made extremely thin. After the scroll was fully unfolded, it was actually about one meter long.
The writing on it was tiny, but since Shen Qiao had temporarily recovered his eyesight, he could still roughly read it with the help of the moonlight.
Everyone stared at him with shining gazes.
If those gazes could materialize, they would have burned countless holes all over Shen Qiao already.
He narrowed his eyes to read the sentences carefully, then slowly and clearly read out every single word and phrase, "The spleen harbors the Will. In Houtian stage, it is Free Will, while in the Xiantian stage, it is Belief…"
A person who didn't have any inner qi would naturally have a rather normal volume, but most of the people present had outstanding hearing abilities. Thus, they could still hear him clearly.
There wasn't much content on the bamboo slips. Even though Shen Qiao's reading speed was slow, it only took him an hour at most to finish.
His mouth had become dry from all the talking, as he handed the bamboo slips back to Yan Wushi. The latter then took his hand off Shen Qiao's back and Shen Qiao felt that warm stream of inner qi suddenly vanish completely. Darkness slowly resumed before his eyes and perhaps because he had just overstrained them, a burning sensation broke out in his eyes as if they had been burnt by fire.
He was forced to cover his eyes with one hand while using the other to stabilize himself with the help of the bamboo stick, his back slightly arched as he panted.
Yan Wushi didn't bother with him. He took over the bamboo slips and shook his sleeve. Without another word, he flipped his hand, and the bamboo slips immediately turned into powder, dissipating into the air.
Everyone was stunned.
Murong Xun was still young and hot-blooded. He could not restrain himself from shouting, "The Strategy of the Vermillion Yang is such a precious treasure and yet you destroyed it!"
Yan Wushi's voice sounded indifferent, "Only something that no longer exists can be called 'precious.' He has already read it out just now. How much you have remembered would be your own business."
Murong Xun panted as he stared at him. For a moment, he was speechless.
Yan Wushi clapped his hand and dusted off the last remnants of powder on his sleeve. Then he turned around and left without any hesitation.
Not many people in this world were able to stop him. Zen Master Xueting did not move. Therefore, other people could only stare blankly as his figure disappeared into the darkness.
Bai Rong immediately followed after him and left without even taking care of the wounds on her body. However, it was not to chase after Yan Wushi, but to hurry and find a place to write down what she had memorized just then.
Both Murong Xun and Tuoba Liangzhe turned their eyes to Murong Qin. The latter pondered for a moment and also made his decision, "Let's go!"
Without giving Yun Fuyi and her men another glance, the three of them turned and left right away.
Zen Master Xueting sighed softly and said to Yun Fuyi, "Vice Chairman Yun has been quite startled tonight. Please send this poor monk's regards to Chairman Dou on my behalf."
He also took part in the process of holding back Yun Fuyi, but since the remaining book had been destroyed already, she completely lost interest in criticizing him and merely replied dully, "Master, take care."
After Zen Master Xueting had left, she asked Hu Yan and Hu Yu to help the two hall managers up. She then said to Shen Qiao and Chen Gong, "Your unexpected misfortune tonight was all because of Six Harmonies Association and I'm very sorry about it. May I know where you two are heading to next? If it's convenient, we can drop you off on our way."
If it was back then, Chen Gong would definitely agree happily. But what had happened that night showed him what the saying that "there is always someone better out there" meant. His spirit had diminished a lot, but he still couldn't let go of this opportunity to enter the pugilistic world and was thus pondering on how to answer her.
However, Shen Qiao who was next to him answered before he could, "Thank you very much for your kindness. Originally, we were going to go down south to seek refuge with our relatives, but we didn't expect to come across things like this. We're quite scared now and all we want is to hurry to the south. We're not from the pugilistic world, nor do we want to be involved in its business. So, please forgive us."
Yun Fuyi thought for a bit and asked, "Do you still remember the content you have just read?"
Shen Qiao shook his head, "We come from a poor family. My cousin is illiterate, while I myself only know a few characters and haven't read many classics. Besides, my eyes are also bad. I don't know what kind of magic that expert had used. He pressed his hand against my back, making me able to see the characters. But right after I finished and his hand left my back, I can't even see clearly, let alone remember anything."
Yun Fuyi saw that his eyes had no focus. There sure seemed to be problems with them as the white parts were suffused with a faint blue, so she knew what he said was true. She felt a bit sorry that they had refused her offer, but she did not force them. "That's fine. We'll leave first since we need to hurry on with our journey tonight. If the two of you have any urgent needs, you can go to the Six Harmonies Association's sub-hall in the city and tell them my name , Yun Fuyi."
Shen Qiao thanked her. Chen Gong glanced at Shen Qiao and then thanked her as well.
Yun Fuyi and her men didn't stay for long. They weren't even concerned with the two chests anymore. Hu Yan and Hu Yu brought the two injured hall managers with them and headed to the inside of the city as fast as they could. All of a sudden, such a big monastery became even more desolate.
After he saw their figures disappear from his sight, Chen Gong softly gave Shen Qiao a pat. He was still speaking in a really low voice as if he was afraid that other people might overhear him, "Why didn't you agree when she asked us to go together with them? Won't it be safer if we did?"
The pain in Shen Qiao's eyes hadn't stopped yet, but he laughed after hearing Chen Gong's question, "Then, why didn't you stop me and straightforwardly request to go with them when I was speaking back then?"
Chen Gong hesitated for a second, "Comparing to them, of course you're more trustworthy."
Shen Qiao sighed, "I guess the only reason that Vice Chairman Yun had invited us to travel along is that she was afraid that the content she heard was incomplete and wanted us to help her to write the book down from memory. After the event tonight, the outside world will soon find out about the news. People will try to obtain a copy of the book by all possible means. If we travel along with them, when danger arises, we would be the first ones thrown out by them."
Chen Gong suddenly realized the truth. He could not help but curse, "No wonder that woman suddenly became so kind-hearted. So, it turns out that she has a bellyful of evil tricks hidden already. If you didn't stop me in time, I would have really followed after them!"
"This is just my guess. Since The Strategy of the Vermillion Yang is such a precious treasure, they are afraid they will forget something they heard while it was read out loud and will definitely stop and write it down first. These written versions would surely become hot items that everyone wants to seize. We're not martial artists. Travelling together with them won't bring us any benefit. It will only draw disaster upon us."
Chen Gong was dejected, "You're right. I wanted to join the Six Harmonies Association after seeing how majestic they looked in Funing District. But after tonight, I'll no longer hold on to this delusion. I don't know a thing about martial arts and would probably just end up being a handyman for the rest of my life even if I can get in!"
The two of them went back together. It was more than an hour since the incident before Shen Qiao finally felt the pain in his eyes slightly alleviate. However, he could not see anything when he opened his eyes. His sight was back to the worst condition that he had started with.
He pondered about it. Regarding what Yan Wushi did just then, it was highly probable that he somehow managed to quickly improve his eyes–which would originally have needed several months or even several years to recover–to their best condition. But in the end, he might need even more time to recover now as a compensation for the brief moments of light he had seen.
Shen Qiao couldn't help but smile bitterly.
He had finally experienced thoroughly how heartless this person was. It was probably not some kind of good intention either that led Yan Wushi to save Shen Qiao back then.
But tonight… Was it really a coincidence that Yan Wushi had appeared here?
Suddenly, Chen Gong pulled Shen Qiao's sleeves. His tone sounded a bit chilling, "You see, since someone else was impersonating that little monk back there, what about the abbot and the two little monks who were originally living in the monastery? It can't be… It can't be that they were already silenced, right?"
Shen Qiao did not say anything.
As if his silence conveyed some kind of message, Chen Gong turned pale and became quiet as well.
He had always flaunted himself as a fearless person, but this was the first time that he deeply realized the importance of power.
In a world like this one, anyone who did not have the corresponding strength could end up becoming a sacrifice with a shady death at any time.
As expected, both the abbot and the two monks were dead.
The corpses were right in the old abbot's room. The murderer hadn't even tried to cover it up and simply left them lying there in disorder. Chen Gong was so scared when he saw this that even his legs went soft. He had no strength to collect their corpses and ran straight back, rolling and crawling along the way. Only after seeing Shen Qiao did he finally calm down a little.
Even though Shen Qiao was blind, he could still somehow give people strength just by quietly sitting there.
Chen Gong's lips trembled as he asked, "Were they killed by the woman who had disguised herself as the little monk? She's so strong. She could have just made them unable to speak or move. Why did she still need to kill them?"
"Maybe, this is the way she does things." Shen Qiao was silent for a moment. "Some people don't need reasons when they act. They believe they can rule over other people's lives, thus whether they decide to do good or evil solely depends on their own preference."
Chen Gong blankly stared at the ground. The dried up bloodstain on the old abbot's corpse was still flashing before his eyes. Everything that had happened tonight had completely overturned what he had known or experienced in the past dozen or so years. Still deeply immersed in the shock, he was unable to come back to reality for a long time.
'I must not become a person who places themselves at the mercy of others. I have to become the one who can domineer over others,' Chen Gong thought as he recalled those great experts he had seen tonight.
Compared to the calm and mature Zen Master Xueting who appeared to be out of this mortal world, the extravagant, self-willed Yan Wushi would naturally stir up more of his admiration.
Shen Qiao didn't know what he was thinking. He thought Chen Gong was just frightened, so he patted Chen Gong's shoulder a few times and said softly, "Every encounter is the result of fate. Since the old abbot lent out his monastery for us to stay, it should be counted as him doing us a favor. Why don't we bury them together tomorrow morning?"
Chen Gong let out a long breath. "Sure."
 Bamboo Slips (竹简 zhu jian): Bamboo and wooden slips were the main media for documents in China before the widespread introduction of paper (see image).
 Tell them my name: A way of saying that they had a connection with her.