Thousand Autumns – Chapter 14
Editor: Isalee, Aconyte
Quality Checker: Mochimochi
First published on Ainushi.
Synopsis: How does it feel to be a good person?
Even though he clearly knew that Shen Qiao was blind, Chen Gong still subconsciously avoided making eye contact with him.
Upon seeing this, Mu Tipo chuckled, "Chen Gong told me there was a beauty here who was a hundred times prettier than all of my men combined. I didn't believe him at first, thinking that this boy hadn't seen much of the world and only knew how to brag, so I followed him to have a look. But now after seeing you, I finally know that he wasn't really exaggerating."
Shen Qiao remained silent, his face was expressionless.
Mu Tipo didn't mind it. "I am Mu Tipo, the Commandery Prince of Chengyang. His Majesty is very fond of me, so if you are willing to go back with me, you will live a luxurious life with wealth and honor from now on, and you won't have to live in such a crude place anymore."
Only then did Shen Qiao finally let out a sigh, "Chen Gong, you are the one who told him my whereabouts?"
Knowing that there was no turning back, Chen Gong steeled his heart and replied, "I had no other choice! If I didn't bring them here, then I would have to serve Mu… Commandery Prince Mu myself!"
Shen Qiao shook his head. "Do you really think you can get away with it just by bringing them here? Why don't you ask Commandery Prince of Chengyang whether he is willing to let you go or not?"
Mu Tipo laughed, "You're right. Even though this boy is nothing compared to you, at least he's not crippled. He's smart, and his face is fairly good-looking. I'd say making him a servant would be nice too!"
Chen Gong was shocked. "You just said you would let me go!"
Mu Tipo didn't pay any attention to him. With a wave of his hand, people from his left and right stepped forward and seized Chen Gong.
Meanwhile, he walked towards Shen Qiao himself.
Perhaps Shen Qiao felt him approaching, he finally got up with the help of the table. It seemed like he was about to greet Mu Tipo with a salutation.
A smile climbed up the corners of Mu Tipo's mouth. Everything went just as he expected.
When it came to power and authority, everyone in the world either dreaded or envied it. The ones who dreaded it trembled with fear while the ones with envy chased after it like a moth to a flame. Even though the other person appeared to be reluctant right now, he too would soon get used to or even fall in love with wealth, power, and fair ladies. At that point, if he wanted to get out, it would no longer be up to him to make the decision.
Mu Tipo asked, "What's your name?"
"I'm Shen Qiao."
"Is it the 'Qiao' as in 'Da Qiao' and 'Xiao Qiao'? It suits you well indeed."
"It's the 'Qiao' with a 'Shan (Mountain)' on its left."
Mu Tipo raised his eyebrows and laughed, "As in 'I came to appease all gods in the world, including the ones in rivers and high mountains (Qiao)'? This 'Qiao' feels a little too fierce. It's not a name a beauty should have."
But Shen Qiao didn't laugh. "I think this name is good."
"Fine, fine, as long as you like it. Do you have a courtesy name ? Or should I just call you Xiao-qiao? Ah-qiao?" Mu Tipo laughed. His tone unconsciously held some humor and compliance.
Shen Qiao bent down to pick up the bamboo stick, and part of his neck was revealed underneath the collar. It was fine and slim, arousing all kinds of fanciful thoughts in others.
It made Mu Tipo's heart itch. He couldn't hold himself back from reaching out his hand to help Shen Qiao, thinking that he could use the opportunity to pull that person into his arms so that he could come to him.
Shen Qiao's body temperature was low. He was emaciated due to sickness. When Mu Tipo was holding Shen Qiao's wrist, he could even feel the bones underneath the thin layer of skin.
Normally, for someone like Mu Tipo who had seen all kinds of beauties, he sure would have disliked how bony Shen Qiao felt in his hand. But at this very moment, his mind was blown away by it, and he became even more eager to have him.
"Ah-qiao…" He only said two words.
And he only had time to say these two words.
Before he felt a sting on his chest.
He looked down. That bamboo stick had somehow appeared in front of him and was pointing right at where his heart was.
Mu Tipo's reaction was not slow. Right after he felt the sting, he immediately took advantage of the momentum and leaned backward, grabbing the bamboo stick with one hand while attacking Shen Qiao with the other.
He was not a broad-minded person in the first place. Even more so, he hated this seemingly harmless beauty who dared to backstab him; therefore, by the time he attacked, there was no mercy left.
Mu Tipo also practiced martial arts. Despite the fact that his skill was only second or third-rate, if his palm were to really hit Shen Qiao, the latter would be at least severely injured, if not killed.
However, much to his surprise, the bamboo stick which undoubtedly should have fallen into his hand swiftly slipped to the side, escaping Mu Tipo's range of control.
Not only that, but Mu Tipo's other hand also failed to hit the target.
The person he thought to be a sick, fragile beauty actually dodged his attack using some exquisite footwork, he even managed to strike back and hit his waist with the bamboo stick.
He didn't have any inner qi, so the hit could not inflict much damage on Mu Tipo. However, it hit him right on the weakest spot between his ribs. Mu Tipo was taken by surprise and thus failed to use inner qi to defend himself. As a result, the pain inflicted by the strike almost made his eyes water. He could not restrain himself from letting out a cry before retreating hastily.
Only then did his servants finally realize what had happened. Some of them stepped forward to support Mu Tipo, while the others rushed up in a crowd, ready to take down Shen Qiao.
Mu Tipo had never expected that he would suffer losses at this place, his face sunk to the point that he was about to explode. Gazing at Shen Qiao ferociously, in his mind he already had more than a hundred ways to torture the man. "Catch him alive!"
Some of the servants he brought were quite skilled in martial arts. Relying on the fact that they were overwhelming in numbers, they didn't take the blind, sickly person seriously; yet unexpectedly, they were all defeated.
With just one bamboo stick, he kept all of them away. No one was able to approach him.
But that was not all. Knowing that Mu Tipo had more people on his side, Shen Qiao did not intend to spend more time with them either. His attacks became more and more ruthless, his countenance which normally appeared rather delicate due to him being blind was now veiled in coldness. One of them secretly moved behind Shen Qiao in an attempt to capture him, but Shen Qiao took him straight down with a whip of his stick. The person stumbled backward, and without any mercy, Shen Qiao immediately followed up and pushed him out the window.
A shrill scream pierced the air as the person fell off the second floor, and everyone was somewhat intimidated. For a moment, they even forgot to move.
Shen Qiao "looked" at all of them, his face expressionless. The tip of the bamboo stick touched the ground, whereas he stood there, steadfast and unmoved.
His face was still pale, but one could faintly discern an extra trace of sternness on it.
Chen Gong stood at where he was and gasped.
The last time he saw Shen Qiao fighting off a few beggars was back then when they were still in the shabby temple. At that time, he knew Shen Qiao was most likely an expert martial artist before he lost his memory and became sick. However, after he witnessed the fight between Yan Wushi, Zen Master Xueting, and the others at Beyond Cloud Monastery, his outlook seemed to broaden as well, and he no longer felt Shen Qiao was that strong.
Until this moment, he seemed to have finally caught a glimpse of Shen Qiao's many secrets, yet it also seemed like he was still kept in the dark, not knowing anything at all.
Mu Tipo felt embarrassed, and his hatred and resentment toward Shen Qiao grew. For a moment, he wanted to kill this person, but at the same time, he thought killing him alone was not enough to quench his abhorrence. He had to catch him alive and f*ck him at least a good number of times after they returned. In the end, he could dump him and let his subordinates f*ck him to death—only then would he be able to vent this festering hatred in his heart.
He looked around. Seeing that all of his men appeared hesitant and no one dared to come up, he couldn't help but cursed, scolding them, "Don't tell me that you can't even fight a blind person! You could just crush him with weights!"
But they still didn't dare to move, mainly because they were too afraid of him now since each one of them had been more or less injured in the previous fight. No one had expected that the person could brilliantly utilize a bamboo stick to such an extent.
Shen Qiao's face appeared indifferent. He just stood there without any words, as if he was waiting for them to either leave or continue to come up and provoke him.
Mu Tipo laughed grimly, "You didn't use any inner qi just now, and exquisite moves alone don't last for long. I've already asked them to surround the inn. If you know your place, you should just kneel down and beg me, maybe I'll show you a way out then. Otherwise…"
"Otherwise what will happen?"
Mu Tipo's expression became fierce, "Otherwise…"
But before he could finish, he saw Shen Qiao striking a palm towards the side.
Everyone who thought Shen Qiao didn't possess any inner qi was astounded. As the air created by the palm passed by, the cabinet fell down at once.
They didn't see it coming, so they had to dodge, and Mu Tipo was no exception. Since the cabinet was not far behind him, he couldn't step backward, and the only choice left for him was to lean sideways. However, while he was dodging, Shen Qiao took the opportunity and stroke another palm toward his back at once.
Mu Tipo turned around for a counterattack, but he unexpectedly fell straight into Shen Qiao's trap. The latter immediately rolled up his sleeve and caught him by his wrist. Shen Qiao dragged him back as he retreated to the window, then clutched his neck with his other hand.
Upon seeing this, the other people dared not to move even more.
Mu Tipo didn't expect his bony wrist to be so powerful that he was completely unable to breathe under its grip; Shen Qiao's other hand firmly restrained his gate of vitality, leaving him afraid to even to use his inner qi.
"By doing this, you're only–cough, cough–only heading to your own doom!" Mu Tipo had never thought that in the end, he would have his eyes pecked out by an eagle after spending his life training and toying with them. He was pissed to death, yet he dared not to act rashly.
But who would have thought that Shen Qiao could still fool around with everyone even with a body like this?
"I don't know if I'm heading to my own doom, but I do know if you don't let me go today, you'll probably meet your doom here first." Shen Qiao's tone was almost flat, his voice was not loud either. Occasionally, a soft cough could be heard, but there was no anger in his voice. "To be able to have your noble life in exchange for my insignificant one, it’s a great bargain indeed."
How the hell did he mistake this person for someone who was harmless and delicate!
Mu Tipo had no choice but to order those servants, who were staring at them and ready to take action, to retreat. "Go out and tell all of them to withdraw!"
Shen Qiao sighed, "Wouldn't it be better if Commandery Prince acted so readily earlier? Let's go. Please accompany me all the way to the outside of the city, and then give me a carriage."
Mu Tipo sneered, "How is a carriage going to help a blind person like you? Don't tell me that I have to assign you a coachman too!"
Shen Qiao thought for a moment and said, "Commandery Prince Mu is right. Then please excuse me for keeping you a little longer. I'm sure this way the coachman would not dare to disobey."
Mu Tipo was exasperated.
Thus they went all the way out of the city. Mu Tipo was forced to get on the carriage, and with him in Shen Qiao's hand, the coachman did not dare to resist.
The carriage headed west for two days and one night until they were close to the border of Northern Zhou. Shen Qiao made sure that Mu Tipo's servants would not be able to catch up with them for a while before he let the coachman return with the carriage, whereas he went into an inn while holding Mu Tipo as his hostage. He first knocked Mu Tipo out, and then rendered his offspring maker useless to prevent him from harming other people in the future. After leaving him in one of the guest rooms, Shen Qiao finally left all by himself.
After he came out of the inn, Shen Qiao quickly walked toward the city gate. However, he could only make a few steps before having to stop. He found a corner in an empty, remote alley. Leaning against the wall there, he could not hold onto this state of a spent arrow any longer. He bent over and coughed up a big mouthful of blood.
A sneer came from the side.
Without lifting his head, Shen Qiao already knew who the person was. He erased the bloodstains on his lips with his sleeves and simply sat down against the wall.
A black-robed person had appeared, yet no one could tell when it had happened. His face was handsome, and his manner was overbearing. A few wrinkles sprinkled along his long and narrow eyes, but they rather enhanced his stature with an indescribable charm.
Yan Wushi stood there with his hands clasped behind him. Seeing how pale Shen Qiao looked as if the person was going to burn out at any moment, he clicked his tongue, "It's so obvious that you parted with Chen Gong because you didn't want to implicate him. But your heartfelt kindness was repaid with betrayal right at the next second. That Chen guy didn't want to be Mu Tipo's boy-toy himself, so he threw you out at once. Well, how does it feel to be a good person?"
Shen Qiao felt extremely nauseous inside his chest. He covered his mouth, wishing he could spit out a couple more mouthfuls of blood just to make himself feel better.
"What you said is wrong. I was the one reading the script that night at Beyond Cloud Monastery, and I am the only one who's literate out of the two of us. Even if Chen Gong has an outstanding memory and remembers a few sentences, he doesn't know the meaning behind them. If the people from Six Harmonies Association decide to look for us afterwards, they must be coming after me. Therefore, the reason I parted with him is because I don't want to involve him in my troubles. It would bother my conscience if he suffered because of me."
He didn't have enough energy to finish, so he had to pause for a moment and catch his breath before continuing:
"But I'm not a prophet. I didn't know he would run into Mu Tipo, and even more so, I didn't know he would lead the disaster to me for the sake of freeing himself. But even then, I can't use him as my scapegoat without feeling guilty just for the possibility that he might do something in the future that will cause me harm."
 Da Qiao, Xiao Qiao (大乔, 小乔): Two famous beauties from the Three Kingdoms Period.
 Courtesy Name (字 zi): A name bestowed upon one at adulthood in addition to one’s given name, generally used instead of one's given name as a form of respect.