Chapter 17 Refinement—Part Seven
A few disciples paddled and used nets to chase after the underwater shadow. Someone shouted from the other side, “There are some here as well!”
On the other side, a mass of black shadows also whooshed past. A number of narrow boats dragged nets and went over, but they didn’t catch anything. Wei WuXian spoke, “That’s strange. The shape of this shadow doesn’t seem like a human. It’s also sometimes long and sometimes short, sometimes large and sometimes small… Lan Zhan, beside your boat!”
Instantly, the Bichen on Lan WangJi’s back unsheathed and stabbed into the water. After a moment, it flew out of the river with a sharp resonance, taking with it a crescent of water. Yet, it didn’t pierce anything.
He held the sword in his hand with a stern expression. As he was about to speak, a disciple on the other side also drew out his sword, thrusting it toward a dark shadow which swiftly swam by in the water.
However, after his sword went underwater, it never came out again. He chanted the sword incantation for a few more times, but nothing was retrieved from the water. It was as if his sword had been devoured by the lake, disappearing without a trace. The disciple looked like he was a youth of similar age as Wei WuXian and the others. Without his sword, his face grew paler and paler. An older disciple beside him spoke, “Su She, right now, we still haven’t determined what the thing inside the water is. Why did you act on your own and make your sword go underwater?”
Su She seemed like he was somewhat flustered, but his expression was relatively calm, “I saw that Second Young Master also…”
He realized, before he even finished speaking, how unsuitable this sentence was. No matter what, the Bichen sword or Lan WangJi were not comparable with others. Lan WangJi could enter his sword into water when the opponent was unknown and be just fine, but it might not be the case for others. An embarrassed shade of red seeped through his pale complexion, as if he had been disgraced. He glimpsed at Lan WangJi, but Lan WangJi didn’t look at him, and instead attentively observed the water. In an instant, Bichen was unsheathed again.
This time, the blade of the sword wasn’t inserted into water, but instead, the tip of the sword jolted, and whisked up a piece of shadow from within the water. A pile of wet, black mess fell onto the floor of the boat with a plop. Wei WuXian went on his toes to have a look. To his surprise, it was a piece of clothing.
Wei WuXian laughed so hard that he almost toppled into the river, “Lan Zhan, you’re so impressive! This is my first time seeing someone remove a water ghoul’s clothing when they’re catching water ghouls.”
Lan WangJi simply examined Bichen’s tip to see if there was anything strange, seeming to have decided to not converse with him. Jiang Cheng spoke, “You should shut up. The thing that swam underwater really wasn’t a water ghoul. There was only a piece of clothing!”
Of course, Wei WuXian also saw it clearly. He just didn’t feel satisfied without teasing Lan WangJi a few times. He spoke, “So, the thing that was sneaking around was just this piece of clothing? Now that’s why the nets couldn’t catch it and swords couldn’t pierce it. Its shape was always different. However, a piece of clothing couldn’t have swallowed up a whole sword. There must be something else inside the water.”
At the moment, the boats already floated toward the center of Biling Lake. The color of the lake was an extremely dark shade of green. Suddenly, Lan WangJi slightly lifted his head, “Go back immediately.”
Lan XiChen asked, “Why?”
Lan WangJi answered, “The underwater beings led the boats to the center of Biling Lake on purpose.”
Just as he finished his words, everyone suddenly felt their boats sinking.
Water immediately started to spread into the boats. Wei WuXian suddenly noticed that the color of Biling Lake’s water wasn’t dark green any more, but almost black. Surrounding the area close to the center, a large whirlpool had formed without anybody realizing. The ten-or-so boats circled around, following the currents of the whirlpool. They sunk as they spun, as if they were going to be sucked inside a gigantic, black mouth!
The clang-s of drawing swords chorused in the air. One after another, everyone mounted their swords and flew upward. Wei WuXian already hovered above. He looked downward, only to see that the disciple who drove his sword underwater, Su She, was already knee-deep inside the water, the board of his boat already engulfed in Biling Lake. Although his face was full of panic, he didn’t call for help, possibly frightened rigid. Without hesitation, Wei WuXian bent down and stretched his arm out, grabbing Su She’s wrist and pulling him up.
Having added another person, the sword under his feet dipped abruptly, but it continued to ascend. However, not long after, a strong force suddenly came from from Su She, almost pulling Wei WuXian off of his sword.
The lower part of Su She’s body was already submerged inside the black whirlpool in the lake. The whirlpool spun faster and faster, and his body also sunk deeper and deeper. There seemed to be something hiding underwater, holding onto his legs and pulling them down. Jiang Cheng originally stood on his Sandu and calmly ascended to about seventy meters above the surface of the lake. As he looked down, he dashed toward them with an annoyed expression, “What are you doing, now?!”
The sucking force of the lake became stronger and stronger. Wei WuXian’s sword was superior in terms of agility, but inferior in terms of strength. He was almost weighed down to the point of hovering right above the surface of the lake. He steadied himself while using both hands to haul Su She, and shouted, “Can somebody come here to help?! If I still can’t pull him up, I’m gonna let go!”
Suddenly, Wei WuXian felt his collar tighten, and he was lifted into the air. He turned around to see Lan WangJi holding the back of his collar with one hand. Although Lan WangJi merely looked into another direction with an indifferent look, he and his sword carried the weight of three people, and fought with the mysterious force of the lake at the same time. Moreover, their position was still rising at a steady pace. Jiang Cheng was rather shocked, If I went down to pull Wei WuXian before him, using Sandu, I probably couldn’t have ascended so quickly and steadily. Lan WangJi is only around my age…
At this point, Wei WuXian spoke, “Lan Zhan, your sword is quite strong, isn’t it? Thank you, thank you. But why did you pull my collar? Can’t you hold on to me? I don’t feel comfortable if you do this. Why don’t I stretch my hand to you and you can grab it?”
Lan WangJi replied with a cold voice, “I do not have physical contact with others.”
Wei WuXian, “We’re already this familiar with each other, so how am I ‘others’?”
Lan WangJi, “We are not.”
Wei WuXian pretended to be hurt, “You can’t do this…”
Jiang Cheng really couldn’t hold it any more. He scolded, “You can’t do this!!! Can’t you speak a few sentences less while you’re held in mid-air by your collar?!”
The group travelled on their swords and evacuated Biling Lake as fast as they could. When they landed, Lan WangJi let go of Wei WuXian’s back collar and calmly turned to Lan XiChen, “It is a waterborne abyss.”
Lan XiChen shook his head, “Then, this is going to be difficult.”
As they heard the name “waterborne abyss”, Wei WuXian and Jiang Cheng understood immediately. The scariest part about Biling Lake wasn’t water ghouls, but the water which flowed in it.
Because of reasons such as terrain or currents, some rivers or lakes often encountered sinking ships and drowning people. As time went on, the area of water would develop a personality. It was like a spoiled young mistress who couldn’t tolerate a shortage of the luxurious lifestyle. If no boats of goods or living humans sunk into the water as sacrifices, it would stir up trouble and obtain them on its own.
The people of the Caiyi Town area were all familiar with water, so sunken boats and drowning deaths rarely happened. It was impossible for a waterborne abyss to grow out of here. Now that one had appeared here, there was only one possibility—that it had been chased here from somewhere else.
Once a waterborne abyss emerged, it meant that the whole body of water was turned into a monster. It was extremely hard to get rid of, impossible to remove unless every single drop of water was taken out, all of the people and goods which sunk were fished up, and riverbed was exposed to strong sunlight for a few years. Nevertheless, there was a method that could solve the immediate problem at the expensive of others—to chase it to another river or pond and let it wreck somewhere else.
Lan WangJi asked, “Recently, has there been any place which suffered from a waterborne abyss?”
Lan XiChen pointed at the sky.
He was pointing at nothing else but the sun. Wei WuXian and Jiang Cheng looked at each other, understanding it perfectly, It’s the QishanWen Sect.
Among the cultivation world, there was a countless number of sects and clans, exceeding even the number of stars in the sky. And, among these, there was a titan which stood above the others without a doubt—the QishanWen Sect.
The Wen Clan used the sun as the motif of their clan, signifying that they could “compete with the sun for radiance, match the sun in longevity”. Its sect residence was quite large, almost comparable to a city. It was named the Nightless Sky, also called the Nightless Celestial City, because it was said that there was no nightfall in the city. It could be described as a titan for the fact that no matter in terms of the number of disciples, power, land, or magical tools, there were no other families which could compare to it. A great deal of cultivators took being a foreign disciple to the Wen Sect as a supreme honour. Based on the Wen Sect’s style of doing things, it was highly possible that the waterborne abyss in Caiyi Town was chased here by them.
Although they knew where the waterborne abyss came from, everyone grew silent.
If it was done by people of the Wen Sect, then there would be no result no matter how hard they accused or criticized. First of all, the sect wouldn’t admit it, and second, there wouldn’t be any compensation either.
One disciple complained, “Caiyi Town will be seriously harmed with that sect having chased the waterborne abyss over. If the waterborne abyss grows larger and expands onto the river paths in the town, all those people’s lives would be up to the monster. This is so…”
If it became responsible for the problem passed to them by someone else, the GusuLan Sect would definitely face countless troubles. Lan XiChen sighed, “Let it down. Let it down. Let us go back to the town.”
They boarded new boats at the crossing point and paddled toward an area of town where a lot of people gathered.
After passing the arch bridge and entering the river paths, Wei WuXian started to go at it again.
Abandoning his paddle, he put one foot on the side of his boat and looked into his reflection in the water, examining if his hair was messed up. As if he didn’t just catch tons of water ghouls and escaped from the mouth of the waterborne abyss, Wei WuXian assuredly threw a series of charming winks at both sides of the path, “Sisters, how much for half a kilogram of loquats?”
His age was young, and his appearance was handsome. With such high spirits, it really was a scene of frivolous peach blossoms pursuing the running stream. One woman lifted her bamboo hat, smiling with her head raised, “Young beau, you needn’t pay. How ’bout I can give you one for free?”
The Wu dialect was soft, sounding refreshing and sweet. The speaker’s lips moved melodiously, and the listener’s ears would be enveloped in fragrance. Wei WuXian cupped his hands together, “If it’s given to me by Sister, then I definitely want it!”
The woman put her hand into the basket, and threw him a round, golden loquat, “You needn’t be such polite. It’s for how handsome you look!”
The boats moved at a fast speed. As the two boats met, they immediately passed each other. Wei WuXian turned around, perfectly catching it, and grinned, “Sister looks even prettier!”
As he showed off and flirted on the side, Lan WangJi was staring straight ahead, appearing quite virtuous. Wei WuXian smugly tossed the toquat in his hand, and suddenly pointed at him, “Sisters, do you think that he looks handsome?”
Lan WangJi didn’t expect Wei WuXian to suddenly talk about him at all. Just as he was unsure of how to respond, the women on the river spoke in harmony, “Even more handsome!” Amid this, there seemed to be the laughter of a few men.
Wei WuXian spoke, “Then, does anyone want to give him one? If you only give me and not him, I’m afraid he might be jealous when we go back!”
Chirp-like laughter echoed through the whole river. Another woman came from in front of them, standing on her boat, “Okay, okay, you get two. Heads up, young beau, catch!”
After the second one also landed in his hand, Wei WuXian shouted, “Sister, you’re not only pretty, but you’re nice as well. The next time I come here, I’m gonna buy a whole basket!”
The woman’s voice was vibrant, and she was more daring than the other. She pointed at Lan WangJi, “Get him to come as well. You all can come here and get them!”
Wei WuXian held the loquat in front of Lan WangJi’s eyes. Lan WangJi didn’t move his gaze, “Move.”
And, so, Wei WuXian moved it away, “I knew that you definitely wouldn’t accept it, so I never intended to give it to you. Jiang Cheng, catch!”
Just then, the boat which Jiang Cheng was on whirred past. He caught the loquat with one hand, a slight smile appearing on his face, but immediately snorted, “You’re being all flirty again?”
Wei WuXian smirked, proud of his success, “Get lost!” Then, he turned around and asked, “Lan Zhan, you’re from Gusu, so you know how to speak in this dialect, right? Teach me. How do you swear in the Gusu dialect?”
Lan WangJi threw a “pathetic” at him, and got on another boat. Wei WuXian didn’t expect him to really answer. He just wanted to tease him, after hearing the amusingly soft Gusu dialect and thinking that Lan WangJi undoubtedly also spoke this dialect when he was young. After raising his head to swallow another gulp of the rice wine, he carried the plump, jet-black jar in one hand, picked up the paddle, and charged over to beat up Jiang Cheng.
On the other hand, Lan WangJi stood side by side to Lan XiChen. This time, even their expressions were similar. Both looked as if they were preoccupied by troubles as they thought about things such as how to deal with the waterborne abyss and what to say to the mayor of Caiyi Town.
An extremely heavy boat came from in front of them, filled with buckets of large, golden loquats. Lan WangJi took one glance at it, and continued to look straight ahead.
Yet, Lan XiChen spoke to him, “If you want to eat loquats, should we buy one basket?”
Lan WangJi went off with a flick of his sleeves, “I do not!”
He went to stand on another boat.
Sword incantation: These are what one says to command or summon one’s sword.
Sisters: In China, it is respect to refer to someone older than you as Sister or Brother, and Younger Sister or Younger Brother if the person is younger than you.
Frivolous peach blossoms pursuing the running stream: Again, this phrase comes from a poem by the famous poet Du Fu. This scene of blossoms and the stream implies that Wei WuXian is the “frivolous peach blossom” in this case, and flirts with the women in the river without caring about his conduct.
Bamboo hat: As Caiyi Town is a “water town”, much of the residents there wear bamboo hats which form a conic shape, resembling the famous Vietnamese hats. It is also called a conic hat or a rice hat.
Wu dialect: This is one of the many dialects of Chinese.
Translator and Editor note:
*** The next chapter involves 9000 Chinese characters, which would result in around 7000-8000 words in English. Most chapters so far are 2900-5000 characters, so do not be surprised this takes longer than usual to get translated. It will more than likely be at least five days before the next chapter is out due to this length.