Thousand Autumns – Chapter 15
Editor: Isalee, Aconyte
Quality Checker: Kittsune
First published on Ainushi.
Synopsis: Shen Qiao felt that this person probably had mental problems.
Yan Wushi was so angry that he ended up laughing, "Sect Leader Shen really has a mind that's as wide as the sea. It's a pity that not everyone on Mount Xuandu is like you. Otherwise, how come you, Qi Fengge's disciple, would have fallen off a cliff from Kunye's attack?"
Shen Qiao shook his head, but made no reply.
His memory was still vague and intermittent. He could remember some things but not the others. Since he wasn't quite clear about the truth behind that particular event, he didn't have much to say about it.
But Yan Wushi suddenly struck a palm out toward him.
This palm was not a light strike. It was not like child's play intended to test Shen Qiao, but rather carried a solid thirty percent of his martial power.
Judging by the difference between their current states, not to mention the thirty percent, even if Yan Wushi was to use only ten percent, Shen Qiao would still be powerless against him.
If anyone else was present, they certainly would not doubt that Yan Wushi had the intent to kill, and they certainly would agree that it was impossible for Shen Qiao to escape his doom.
Shen Qiao's breath became heavier. A mouthful of blood welled up all the way to his throat, but he managed to hold it back firmly. Yan Wushi's inner qi was just like the person himself. It was extremely overbearing, surging onward violently like the racing current of a great river nearly materializing into real substance.
It was a moment of life or death -- an extreme crisis -- but Shen Qiao actually calmed down inside. A strange feeling of spaciousness emerged within him.
It was still pitch-black in front of Shen Qiao's eyes, but at that moment, a whole new galaxy revealed itself outside that endless darkness.
The universe was so vast and desolate. The world was so huge. Nature had been evolving endlessly ever since the beginning of time. How insignificant was the human living within them! If a person could become one with the Heavens, ascend as a god, and return to nothingness, then the mountains and the rivers would be him, the sun and the moon would be him, the sky and the clouds would be him, and there would no longer be barrier separating him from everything else.
This was exactly what Shen Qiao was feeling now.
He couldn't tell whether it was because his fragmented memories had finally come to fruition or because the script from The Strategy of the Vermillion Yang was etched deep into his mind. Along with the words and sentences emerging in his head, his heart entered a state of perfect tranquility — much like the moonlight leaking through the leaves -- even the tiniest glitter was clearly reflected.
Even the inner qi which had long been stagnate started to wander around his limbs and bones vaguely, though continuously like silk threads.
The palm Yan Wushi had pressed towards him was as weighty as a mountain and was as fast as the wind. An ordinary person would not even be able to see it clearly with their naked eye. However, Shen Qiao could. His back was against the wall. There was nowhere for him to escape. His only choice was to directly face his enemy.
— To face thirty percent of Yan Wushi's martial power with his sick and weak body.
The former once crossed swords with the world's top martial artists and grandmasters such as Qi Fengge and Cui Youwang without being forced into a disadvantageous position. One could just see how terribly strong he was. Not to mention Shen Qiao, even if the Imperial Family of Qi's number one martial arts expert Murong Qin was here, he would also have to handle it carefully when facing thirty percent of Yan Wushi's strength.
Yet Shen Qiao actually stood up to such a pressure.
He was not smashed into the wall, and he did not spit out blood and die either.
His face was so pale that it almost seemed translucent, but his feet didn't budge even an inch. The sleeves were puffed up due to the forces created by the qi. Even the cloth he used to tie his hair was loosened. His long hair draped down over his shoulders, fluttering crazily in the wind.
The two forces of qi confronted each other, one side strong and one side weak. However, for a while, the weak side didn't show any signs of coming up short.
Yan Wushi slightly raised his eyebrows. He wasn't too surprised; in fact, his expression revealed that he was rather expecting it.
The Meditation Ways of Mount Xuandu is peaceful and passive. It stays away from all worldly affairs. It’s weak when it encounters the weak; it’s strong when it encounters the strong. Once it’s fully integrated and flows smoothly, your Heaven’s Heart will be clear like water.
These sentences suddenly flashed across Shen Qiao's mind.
Yet he soon realized that the reason why his potential could be brought out didn't have much to do with Mount Xuandu, it was rather because…
The inner qi he exerted out slightly showed a sign of blending with Yan Wushi's. The two strands of inner qi were confronting each other and yet influencing each other at the same time. They were obviously from the same origin!
However, the difference in their strengths was indeed too huge. Yan Wushi basically didn't need any other movements. He only increased the pressure by a little, and Shen Qiao was already unable to take it anymore. His face turned ghastly as he spurted out another mouthful of blood.
Yet at this moment, Yan Wushi withdrew his hand.
"Just as what I thought," he said with extreme interest, "I suspected it when I took your pulse back then. You have cultivated the remaining books of The Strategy of the Vermillion Yang before on Mount Xuandu. It was passed onto you by Qi Fengge, wasn't it?"
Shen Qiao could only hear the buzz in his ears, and Yan Wushi's voice sounded like it came from the distant horizon. His whole body slid along the wall until it hit the ground. "So that night at Beyond Cloud Monastery, you let me read the script on purpose?"
Yan Wushi said, "You're right. The Strategy of the Vermillion Yang has five books, and the Book of Wandering Spirit was kept on Mount Xuandu. Since you're the mantle disciple of Qi Fengge, you must have studied it before. Otherwise, it would be lucky enough for you if you didn't die immediately after falling down from a place like Half-Step Peak. There was no way you could have kept that slim chance of survival. Even your eyes and martial arts are able to recover gradually. Don't you find it strange?
"That's because your body remembered the studied material in The Strategy of the Vermillion Yang. Even though you have temporarily lost your memories, that strand of inner qi has already become part of you since long ago, slowly recuperating your health for you. The reason why I let you read the Book of Free Will that night was precisely to stimulate you with the content so that you could remember the sections you had learned before. I wanted to see if you could integrate the content from both books and bring them together."
Shen Qiao barely had the strength to breathe as he struggled to reply: "I'm just a useless person. How do I deserve the effort that Sect Master Yan has spent on me?"
Yan Wushi smiled sinisterly, "The Book of Free Will of The Strategy of the Vermilion Yang appeared in the world, causing all parties to fight over it. Unfortunately, I destroyed the original copy at Beyond Cloud Monastery. Only a few people present at that time were able to hear it, and they definitely will write down the content after they return. In order to mislead the public, they will definitely mix some false parts in there as well, and spread out a few extra versions to lure other people to fight over them. There are lots of sects that didn't make it to the monastery that night. After they hear the news, they won't be able to sit still and will try every possible method to obtain the copy with the real content. To be able to see them fighting both openly and secretly and repeatedly arousing disturbances in the world — don't you find it quite interesting?"
Shen Qiao closed his eyes. "How will it benefit you?"
"Of course there are benefits, but it doesn't concern you, so you don't have to worry about it. All you need to know is that you've also gained an enormous benefit because of the event. After all, it's already a huge fortune for anyone in this world to be able to have a peep at even one of the remaining scripts. Extremely few people have the chance to study two of the books like you did. If you can continue studying it, it's not impossible for your martial arts to recover to your prior level. Speaking of which, shouldn't you thank me more properly?"
"Sect Master Yan…"
Yan Wushi grabbed his chin and forced him to raise his head. "Weren’t you calling me Master before? Why did you change so fast?"
"I want to…" Shen Qiao mumbled, his voice a little indiscernible.
Yan Wushi bent down slightly and lowered his head to listen.
The other person suddenly spat out another big mouthful of blood. Yan Wushi didn't have time to let him go, and spots of blood splattered onto his hand.
Killing intent bursted out of Yan Wushi's eyes.
Shen Qiao feebly said, "I told you I wanted to cough blood. That was definitely not on purpose…"
Before he could finish, he fell straight to the side and fainted.
While he was lethargic, he felt as if he was floating in midair drifting around, that even his thoughts had followed and drifted to somewhere far away. He wasn't sure how long had passed before it finally floated back and fell into his current outer form.
As soon as he opened his eyes, Shen Qiao heard someone heaving a sigh next to him, "Life is so hard. Why are you still alive then? Always failing to die, doesn’t it make you sick at heart?"
It was Yan Wushi's voice.
"…" Shen Qiao felt that this person probably had mental problems.
Yan Wushi's way of doing things was already free-willed and unconventional to a certain extent. For a rare script as precious as the Book of Free Will of The Strategy of the Vermillion Yang, he could destroy it without any warning beforehand, leaving no leeway.
Yet for things that everyone had been looking for such as to peek at the content of the script, Yuan Wushi had let him obtain this opportunity so easily.
While he was being besieged by Mu Tipo and his men due to Chen Gong's betrayal, Yan Wushi had probably been there too. However, he simply looked on without lifting a finger and didn't do anything to stop those men. Only after Shen Qiao left with his own power did Yan Wushi finally appear again, attacking him suddenly as if he wanted to take Shen Qiao's life but invoking the remaining inner qi that The Strategy of the Vermillion Yang had left in Shen Qiao's body in the end.
But Shen Qiao would never be so self-sentimental as to imagine himself being worthy enough to be treated so favorably by Yan Wushi that the latter would spend all of this effort just to train him. Therefore, the only explanation was that this person's temperament was too erratic and moody, making it hard to predict using common sense.
Yan Wushi said, "Mu Tipo's servant came looking for him, and Chen Gong is among them. He is the reason why you have fallen into the eyes of a sycophantic official like Mu Tipo. If you want to kill him, there's still time."
Shen Qiao shook his head in silence, then slowly sat up on the bed with the support of his elbows. He found out that after spitting out those blood, his chest felt a lot better; the stuffiness and pain were gone as well. He realized that he probably happened to spat out the extravasated blood by chance, and it ended up helping him recover from his injuries.
"Many thanks to Sect Master Yan," he said.
Yan Wushi was rather honest, "I didn't expect you to spit out the extravasated blood so fast either. I simply wanted to force you to use the inner qi from The Strategy of the Vermillion Yang."
Shen Qiao knew what he was implying: If you didn't pull through then, you would just die in vain.
"Then what plan does Sect Master Yan have next?"
"I'm going back to Mount Xuandu with you."
"…………" The corner of Shen Qiao's mouth twitched. "Sect Master Yan has too much business to attend every day, why would you waste your precious time on someone like me?"
Yan Wushi touched his cheek 'affectionately'. Shen Qiao couldn't dodge it anyway, so he had to let Yan Wushi grab his chin and look him up and down like looking over a private property of his. "The Book of Wandering Spirit is hidden in Mount Xuandu, but I don't know where. Mount Xuandu is so big, even though none of the people are my match, it's still troublesome to search there. With you in my hand however, everything will be solved."
"You want me to write it down for you after I recall the content?"
Yan Wushi sneered, "Only those with mediocre minds need to write down things sentence-by-sentence and then read it word-by-word. I've already absorbed the script hidden in Northern Zhou's Imperial Palace. As for the Book of Free Will, I've read it too. Since I've already obtained two out of the five books, I already have an idea of the structure of the book. Rather than reading something you write which may not even be reliable, it would be better to let you fight with me directly. In that case, I don't need to worry about not deciphering the mysterious wonder inside the script hidden at Mount Xuandu."
He then said to Shen Qiao, "The real Xiantian realm cannot be found through forms or mimicking. Paths are made by men. If Tao Hongjing can integrate the merits of the Three Schools and write The Strategy of the Vermillion Yang, then of course I can create martial arts that are even more brilliant than his."
Those words might sound utterly haughty, or even insufferably arrogant at first, but if he pondered it carefully, Shen Qiao actually agreed with him too.
There must be a reason that Yan Wushi could become the leader of a sect, with his martial arts reaching the state of Divinity. He must have his points. Looking at it from this view, he really deserved to rank among the world's greatest, grandmaster-level martial artists.
There was only one problem: staying together all day long with someone like him was really a torture rather than a pleasure.
Yan Wushi let go of his hand and said indifferently, "Since you're awake, let's start off tomorrow."
Shen Qiao felt a bit helpless. "Do I have any other choice?"
"You can choose to walk by yourself while the condition of your injury is still manageable; otherwise, we can have another fight right now and I'll bring you with me after I injure you or render you disabled."
 Heaven’s Heart (天心 tianxin): A Daoist term. The heart of Heaven, or the heart of Dao/the Way. One can find and follow his own Daoist heart when cultivates. The term Daoist Heart will appear later, which basically refers to the same thing here. In this novel, such "Heart" is a martial artist's foundation where the rest of his martial arts are built upon.