Thousand Autumns – Chapter 20
First published on Ainushi.
Synopsis: This shameless bastard!
For a moment, Yu Ai was rendered speechless by his words.
And Yan Wushi's sarcastic comments made the situation even worse:"Qi Fengge decided to let Hulugu off, which eventually led to his own disciple being pushed off the cliff by Hulugu's disciple. Qi Fengge decided to take a disciple, but that disciple was so ambitious that he actually colluded with the Tujue people and schemed against his own martial brother to become the sect leader. I'm afraid if Qi Fengge knew about all this in the nether world, he would probably be exasperated to the point where he would jump out of his coffin."
Yu Ai became even more furious on the inside as he listened to Yan Wushi's taunts. He was barely able to press it down and replied in a chilly tone, "It's rather impolite for Sect Master Yan to pay a visit at midnight without being invited. I still have some family affairs that need to be taken care of, so please excuse me for not keeping you company before seeing you off!"
Yan Wushi laughed, "What a joke! I can come and go as I wish, and there is yet to be a place in this world that can stop me. If Qi Fengge had said these words today, I might have to give him some respect still, but who the hell are you?"
It had never happened in Yu Ai's life that someone would point their finger at his nose and scold him with "Who the hell are you?" He didn't have a very good temper. Under Shen Qiao's imperceptible influence over these years, he had already become a quite gentle person, but after being stimulated by the event from tonight, the once extinguished flame inside him showed signs of flaring up again.
His finger that was hiding inside his sleeve moved a little. He wanted to call other people over, but he gave up in the end —Shen Qiao had pretty good relations with the disciples on Mount Xuandu and a high reputation amongst them. Even though they were in favor of Yu Ai’s proposition of hoping that Mount Xuandu could once again enter the secular world by assisting a wise ruler and participating in the fight for the hegemony, they wouldn't necessarily want to see Mount Xuandu change hands. Not to mention that with Shen Qiao's current state, it was hard to say if those Elders and martial brothers would turn soft-hearted and change their minds after seeing him. In that case, the situation would only become more chaotic and even harder to control.
As he thought to this point, with a shake of his sleeve, there was already a long sword in his hand.
This was one of the three swords Qi Fengge had passed on to his disciples. "Celestial Grief" was given to Shen Qiao, "Heavenly Spring" was given to his youngest female disciple Gu Hengbo, and there was another sword, the "Saintly Principle", which was the one in Yu Ai's hand. 
The long sword vibrated, creating layers of shimmering light like rainbows in the dark night. Only a person who had perfected Mount Xuandu's Azurewave Sword Arts to its ultimate state could exert such exceptional dazzling sword light. The billows arose and surged forwards one after another, breaking from stillness into movement like the sudden arrival of a lightning storm, engulfing the world into its waves.
At this moment, his opponent must feel like a tremendous storm was showering down everywhere around him. The raindrops were crashing down so heavily that it felt like they were going to even break the ground. Cold winds spanning for thousands of acres cut through like knives, each of them piecing deep into people's bones and bowels, bringing horror onto everyone's faces!
No one could tell when it happened, but Yan Wushi's figure also began to drift and his feet were hardly touching the ground. At a quick glance, it almost seemed like he was being blown away by the wind. One of his hands was still behind his back, while the other pushed straight out towards the front. With a simple twist and flick of his sleeve, he first disintegrated most of the sword rain bearing down on him, and then pointed with his index finger.
This finger was exactly the same as the one he used against Yu Shengyan that day under the Half-Step Peak.
What was different was that he was using eighty-percent of his martial power now as opposed to only fifty percent when facing Yu Shengyan.
The sword light all over the sky simplified into a light ring which was drawn with the tip of the sword and came right towards Yan Wushi's finger!
With this point of contact being the center, the inner qi which had exploded from their bodies spreaded out in circles in a flash. Robes and sleeves flipped and turned in the air for the two people inside the battle circle, but for people standing outside of it, it was even harder to bear.
Shen Qiao had already moved to the side when the two people first confronted each other, but he still ended up being affected and he nearly lost his balance.
Inner qi poured into the tip of the sword. Like tremendous waves, it surged up violently and came right down at Yan Wushi's face!
Azurewave Sword Arts wasn't just a name. Back then, Qi Fengge traveled east and was enlightened with this set of sword arts as he stood before the azure sea. Numerous revisions later, it became an introductory set of martial arts that every disciple on Mount Xuandu practiced. Although it was only an introductory skill, because the people using it were different, one could still tell the superior from the inferior, and the good from the bad.
For example, Yu Ai had already reached the superior state of spiritual similarity rather than concrete similarity. He was able to integrate many of his own comprehensions into the Azurewave Sword Arts and had thus gained a truly perfect command of it to the point where he had practically become one with the sword.
However, such an attack had to stop in front of a single finger from Yan Wushi!
If one looked closely they would have realized that this one finger of Yan Wushi's didn’t just stay still after it was pressed against the point of the blade. It was just the opposite: he was moving extremely fast, so fast that his finger nearly left no afterimages in people's eyes. It might have seemed motionless, but in fact his hand had never stopped moving. It was almost like his finger had eyes. It touched upon a few different places, and those were precisely the weakest points on the barrier Yu Ai had created with his inner qi.
Yu Ai suddenly remembered that when Qi Fengge, his master, was still alive, he had once commented on the world's finest martial experts of their time. Among the people he mentioned was Yan Wushi. At that time, everyone thought Qi Fengge's biggest rival was the Tujue grandmaster, Hulugu, but Qi Fengge said that with Yan Wushi's aptitude, that person would surpass Hulugu in just a few years. He even said that Yan Wushi might be able to defeat Qi Fengge himself since his martial arts was already to the state where it was following his heart rather than clinging to the set forms.
For other people, The Strategy of the Vermillion Yang would allow them to learn a profound martial art and even aim at the summit in the field of martial arts. As for Yan Wushi, he only saw it as a reference book. He only used it to remedy the shortfalls in his own martial arts instead of copying everything over and practicing inner qi from the start.
Among all of Yan Wushi's martial arts, there was a quite well-known one that was called "Spring Water Fingering." Qi Fengge who had fought with Yan Wushi before once described it with two verses of a poem: The tender wave of the spring water pities the reflection on it, that all of the infatuation has turned to dust.
These two verses sounded like a girl chanting over her romance that had ended early. When Yu Ai heard it back then, he didn't understand what they meant.
However, at this very moment, he finally understood what the second half of the poem was referring to.
Because along with the other person's finger came the inner qi that violently surged like tides. Not only did it stop his offense, but it even brought the barrier which Yu Ai had worked so hard to construct with his sword energy to its near collapse. Right now, his feeling and the pressure on him were just like what Qi Fengge had said: all of his "infatuation" had turned to dust!
Yu Ai had to exert the sword energy to its extreme.
It all blasted like an explosion only a second later. Haze started to closed in as water vapor densified and shrouded the place — wind came out of nowhere, and huge rocks cracked and bursted, which created deafening sounds!
The explosion made Shen Qiao's ear buzz. For a moment, he couldn't hear anything.
The sound was loud enough to alarm anyone on Mount Xuandu on a quiet night like this. Lights appeared one after another in the distance, and many people threw on their robes as they rushed this way.
The situation was already beyond Yu Ai's original anticipation. He wanted to finish it as quickly and as quietly as possible, but what he didn't foresee was that Yan Wushi would meddle in it, leading the matter to get out of control.
Both of them pulled back their attacks. Yu Ai took three steps backwards, and Yan Wushi retreated for two.
However, while the former had gone all-out, the latter only used eighty percent of his power. It was self-evident on who had come out on top.
Yan Wushi stood composed in the midst of this chaos, it seemed like he was waiting to see a good show.
Yu Ai clenched his teeth and didn't say anything. On the one hand, he felt that since the other people were coming, if he joined hands with the Elders, they could at least keep this crazy trespasser Yan Wushi here, but on the other hand, deep in his heart, he didn't really want the other people on Mount Xuandu to see Shen Qiao.
Just as he was mulling over it, someone had already rushed over before everyone else.
It was Qi Fengge's eldest disciple, Tan Yuanchun.
He was the eldest martial brother of Yu Ai and Shen Qiao. His aptitude was merely average, and he had a rather mild temperament — a peacemaker who tried never to offend anybody. This kind of disposition and level of martial arts were definitely unsuitable for a sect leader, but all martial brothers, including Shen Qiao, respected him greatly for his tolerance and generosity. After Shen Qiao became the sect leader, Tan Yuanchun naturally became an Elder and every day he busied himself disciplining the next generation of disciples.
"Junior brother Yu?" Tan Yuanchun saw Yu Ai at once and seemed a little surprised, "That sound just now, were you…? Who is this mister?"
Yu Ai answered, "Sect Master Yan of the Cleansing Moon Sect."
After hearing Yu Ai's casual introduction, Tan Yuanchun gave a gasp of astonishment.
Why would the Demonic Sovereign from the Demonic Sect show up here?!
Yan Wushi's mood was quite good. He even took the initiative to greet the other person, "So you're Qi Fengge's eldest disciple? You master fought with me once, and I lost to him. But now all of his disciples turn out to be useless. How about you have a fight with me as well?"
Tan Yuanchun: "…"
He turned around and looked at Yu Ai. The latter lowered his voice, "Sect Master Yan's martial arts sure is unsurpassed, but we have so many people on Mount Xuandu that we can at least keep you here. Could it be that Sect Master Yan finds the scenery on Mount Xuandu so exceptionally beautiful that you would rather stay here for longer?"
Yan Wushi gave a light sneer, "Without Qi Fengge, Mount Xuandu is simply worthless in my eyes."
He turned to Shen Qiao and satirized, "Unwilling to leave still, huh? Are you waiting for your junior brother to first imprison you and then chat together about the good old brotherhood between you two?"
Only then did Tan Yuanchun realize there stood yet another person under the tree not far from them. Because the other person was half-hidden in the shadows and had rather faint breaths in addition to his attention being immediately drawn by Yan Wushi's presence just now, he didn't notice it.
However, as he looked, he couldn't help but be shocked as he bursted out, "Junior Brother, the Sect Leader?"
Supporting himself with the tree trunk, Shen Qiao nodded towards where the voice came from as a greeting, "Eldest Brother, I believe you've been well since we last parted?"
Tan Yuanchun was happily surprised. He took a few steps forward, asking, "Are you all right? When did you come back? Why…"
Yu Ai stopped him, "Eldest brother!"
This blockade actually reminded Tan Yuanchun of what Yan Wushi had just said. He immediately held his tongue and looked at Yu Ai, "What is going on here?"
Yu Ai didn't answer. Instead, it was Shen Qiao who actually asked back, "Eldest Brother, is it true that all of you are already planning on electing Junior Brother Yu as the new sect leader?"
Tan Yuanchun appeared to be reluctant to answer. He first looked at Yu Ai, then at Shen Qiao. He didn't know how to say things that sounded official and tactful, so he had to tell the truth, "We've been relying on Junior Brother Yu to take care of the affairs in the sect when you were not here. He was helping you with these things before anyway, and he is the one who knows Mount Xuandu the best. After you fell off the cliff, the Elders had a discussion and decided to let Junior Brother Yu become the regent leader of the sect until… Well, it's good that you're back. Have a nice recovery first, and the rest can wait till some time after!"
Shen Qiao was very aware that even if he really were to stay tonight, since he had lost to Kunye and was also seriously wounded, there was no way he could continue to shoulder the duty of a sect leader. Even if the other people didn’t mind, he himself definitely wouldn't have the face to keep the position. The Purple Mansion of Mount Xuandu would undoubtedly continue to be controlled by Yu Ai. In that case, he couldn't stop Yu Ai's cooperation with the Tujue whether he chose to stay or not. In fact, with his current condition, staying would simply be the same as placing himself at the mercy of others.
Thinking to this point, he sighed to himself and didn't hesitate anymore, "Sect Master Yan, may I trouble you to take me along!"
They called out simultaneously, Yu Ai with anger, and Tan Yuanchun with shock. He couldn't understand how and when Shen Qiao had involved himself with the people from the Demonic sects.
Yan Wushi raised his eyebrows. He didn't seem to be surprised by Shen Qiao's decision and found it especially interesting. He deliberately suggested, "You still have time to regret."
Lights could faintly be seen from the distance as they approached. Those were the disciples of Mount Xuandu who were hurrying over.
A blind man's ears were exceptionally keen. Shen Qiao couldn't see very well, but he was able to hear it.
He shook his head, "No."
Seeing that Yan Wushi was going to take the person and simply walk away from it all, Yu Ai was shocked and enraged by it at the same time. He lifted his sword and was going to step forward to stop them, "Wait!"
To his surprise, Yan Wushi did not dodge or step aside. He grabbed Shen Qiao by his waist and sent him forward, immediately making Shen Qiao the target for Yu Ai's attack.
Tan Yuanchun was terrified: "Third junior brother, stop!"
Yu Ai was greatly alarmed. He withdrew his hand and retreated at once. Yan Wushi laughed heartily, taking the person with him. They disappeared without a trace in the blink of an eye.
Only laughter continued to echo in the open space.
Yu Ai almost blew his top, "This shameless bastard!"
 Names of the three swords: It’s interesting to see how the name of the swords correspond to their owners.Celestial Grief/Shan He Tong Bei [山河同悲]: The Mountains and the Rivers were grieving together with us. Heavenly Spring/Tian Wei Shui Chun [天为谁春]: Heaven! For whom did you make the spring? A verse taken out a poem by a poet named Nalan Xingde. Saintly Principle/Jun Zi Bu Qi [君子不器]: An accomplished scholar should not be like a vessel. It's a phrase from the Confucius Analects. Vessel is referring to things that are made and used for only one purpose, so the sentence means a noble person's talent should not serve solely for a single purpose. A gentleman is an expert with certain skills, but these skills should be a way to open up his mind for the broader view and should enlighten him spiritually rather than confining him to a certain field. If a person is content at the level of "skill" only, he is nothing but a vessel.