Chapter 6 Arrogance—Part One
Important Note: From now on, the GusuLan Clan will be referred to as the GusuLan Sect. I, the translator, accidentally mistook the definition of a sect as that of a clan’s. For clarification purposes, a sect is an organization for cultivation that may or may not be related by blood, while a clan is a cultivation family related by blood. This means that GusuLan is a sect, with the Lan clan being the leaders of the sect. This is what Wei WuXian referred to as he was talking about the uniforms of the disciples who came—only those part of the clan are allowed to wear cloud patterns, excluding the common members of the sect. Again, I apologize for the miscommunication ヽ(；´Д｀)
Only a few days passed, and Wei WuXian realized that he might have made a wrong choice.
The donkey that he conveniently picked up was too hard to please.
Although it was only a donkey, it would exclusively eat fresh, young grass with dewdrops still hanging off them. If the tip of the grass had a streak of yellow, it wouldn’t eat it. Passing a farm, Wei WuXian stole some wheat straws to feed it, but after chewing them, it spit it out with a ptoo, even louder than that of its human counterparts. If it didn’t eat high-quality food, it wouldn’t budge, and it’d lose its temper and kick around. For multiple times, Wei WuXian was almost kicked by it. Aside from that, it’s brays also sounded extremely horrible to the ear.
It was useless, no matter as a mount or a pet!
Wei WuXian couldn’t help but to think of his sword. The sword was probably collected by the leader of a prominent clan and would have hanged on a wall as a trophy that they could show other people.
After pushing and pulling along for a few blocks, the road reached a vast farmland of some village. Under the scorching sun, there was a large pagoda tree and thick, green grass underneath it. Beside the tree, there was an old well, with a barrel and a dipper on the side, placed there by the farmers for any passersby to quench their thirst. The donkey ran over there and nothing could make it leave. Wei WuXian hopped down and slapped its honoured buttocks, “You’re definitely destined for wealth, even harder to please than me.”
The donkey spat at him.
While they fooled around aimlessly, a group of people approached from within the fields.
The people carried handmade bamboo baskets, and wore cotton clothes and straw sandals, emitting the rustic airs of rural villagers. In the group, there was a young girl with a round face that could be considered delicate. Possibly because of walking for too long under the sun, they also wanted to come over to rest by the shade and have some water. However, seeing that there was a wild donkey tied to the tree and a lunatic with heavy makeup and dishevelled hair, they were reluctant to go over.
Wei WuXian had always thought of himself as one who was courteous towards women, so he moved over, emptying some space, and went to struggle with the donkey. After realizing that he was harmless, the people were finally at ease to come over. All of them were drenched in sweat and had ruddy cheeks; some were fanning themselves and some fetching water. The girl sat by the well and smiled at Wei WuXian, as if she knew that he purposely moved away.
One of the people held a compass in his hand. He looked into the distance, and then lowered his head questioningly, “We’re already at the foot of Dafan Mountain, so why hasn’t the pointer started moving yet?”
The designs and pointer on the compass looked strange, indicating that it wasn’t a normal compass. It wasn’t one that showed the North, South, East, and West, but one that showed the directions malicious creatures, also known as a “Compass of Evil.” Wei WuXian realized that this was probably a poor cultivation clan from the countryside. Aside from highbrow, affluent clans, there were also smaller clans like this, who closed their doors and cultivated on their own. Wei WuXian thought that they might have left their village to either find a clan whom they were distant relatives to, or to go night-hunting.
The middle-aged man leading the group called for people to take a drink and replied, “Your compass might be broken; I’ll get you a new one later. Dafan Mountain is less than ten miles ahead of us, which means that we cannot rest for too long. We have struggled through the whole journey, and if we relax now and fall behind, with other people beating us to it, it wouldn’t have been worth it.”
As expected, it was a night-hunt. A lot of refined cultivation clans called travelling to places and exorcising evil beings “hunting.” Because of how these creatures often appear at night, it was also called “night-hunting.” There were countless cultivation clans, but only a few were distinguished. Without the contributions from its ancestors, if an average clan wanted to become famous and receive respect in the cultivation world, it would have to show its abilities. Only if a clan captured a fierce monster or a terrorizing being, could it have then been treated seriously.
This was originally Wei WuXian’s specialty area. However, during the days of travelling, he destroyed a few graves, but only found small ghosts. He happened to need a ghost soldier to do evil for him, and decided to go to Rice Mountain to try his luck. If he found a good one, he’d capture it and put it to use.
After the group of people finished resting, they prepared to move on. Before they left, the round-faced girl took a small, partly-ripened apple out of her basket and handed it to him, “Here you go.”
Wei WuXian extended his hand to receive it, grinning broadly, but the donkey also opened its mouth and bit at it. Wei WuXian quickly took the apple away. Seeing that the donkey craved the apple so much, he thought of a good idea. He gathered a long stick and a fishing thread, hanged the apple on one end, and dangled it in front of the donkey. The donkey smelled the apple’s refreshing scent from in front of him and wanted to eat it, chasing the apple which was always a centimeter away from him. Its speed was faster than the best horses Wei WuXian had ever seen, leaving only dust behind it.
Without stopping, Wei WuXian arrived at Dafan Shan before dark. Upon arriving at the foot of the mountain, he finally realized that the “fan” wasn’t the one he thought it was. It got its name because, looking from far away, the mountain looked like a kind, chubby buddha. There was a small town below the mountain, named Buddha’s Feet.
The number of cultivators who gathered here were far more than what he had expected. Everything was a jumble, with people from different sects and clans walking down the streets, all in uniforms of different colours, almost blinding to the eye. For some reason, all of them wore distressed expressions. Nobody bothered to laugh at him even though they saw his strange appearance.
In the center of the long street, a group of cultivators gathered, talking in serious tones. It seemed as if their opinions differed greatly. Even from afar, Wei WuXian could hear them talking. In the beginning, everything was fine, but they suddenly became agitated.
“… I think that there are no soul-consuming beasts or spirits in the area at all. It’s clear that none of the Compasses of Evil showed anything.”
“If there isn’t, then how did the seven people lose their souls? They couldn’t have all attained the same disease, could they? I, for one, haven’t heard of this disease at all!”
“Even if the Compass of Evil is not showing anything, does it mean that there’s nothing in the area? It can only point out an approximate direction, without any specifics, so it shouldn’t be fully trusted. Maybe there’s something here that can interfere with the pointer’s direction.”
“Do you remember who created the Compass of Evil? I’ve never heard of anything that can interfere with its pointer’s direction.”
“What do you mean? Are you implying anything with that tone of yours? Of course, I know that Wei Ying created the Compass of Evil. But, it’s not as if his creations are flawless. Aren’t we allowed the option of doubt, at least?”
“I never said that you can’t doubt it, much less his creations are flawless, so why accuse me?”
And so, their argument had turned to another direction. Wei WuXian passed them on his donkey, giggling and laughing. He didn’t expect that, after so many years had passed, he was still alive in the cultivators’ conversations. This was the so-called “much ado about Wei.” If there was ever a poll to find out whose popularity was the most lasting in the cultivation world, the winner would be no other than Wei WuXian.
To be honest, the cultivator wasn’t wrong. The Compasses of Evil in use today was the first version that he made, and were, indeed, not specific enough. He was in the middle of making improvements when his “den” was destroyed, so he had to put everyone through the inconvenience of using the imprecise version one.
Anyways, creatures that ate blood and flesh were usually low in level, such as walking corpses. Only the more refined high-level monsters or ghosts were capable of eating and digesting souls. This one ate seven at once—no wonder so many clans had gathered here. Since the prey was by no means a trivial matter, it was inevitable for the Compasses of Evil to make mistakes.
Wei WuXian reined in the rope and hopped off the donkey’s back, holding the apple, which had been ahead of it for the whole journey, in front of its mouth, “One bite. One bite only… Hmph, are you trying to eat my whole hand with that bite of yours?”
He ate a few bites from the other side of the apple, and stuffed it back into the donkey’s mouth, pondering upon how he came down to the point of sharing an apple with a donkey, when, suddenly, someone bumped into his back. He turned around to see a girl. Although she bumped into him, she didn’t acknowledge him at all. Her eyes were dull and she had a smile on her face, staring into the distance without blinking.
Wei WuXian followed her gaze, and saw the dense mountaintop of Dafan Mountain.
All of a sudden, the girl started dancing in front of him without saying anything.
The dance was wild, with her arms flinging about savagely. Wei WuXian was watching the performance with keen pleasure when a woman ran over, lifting her dress slightly. She embraced the girl and cried, “A-Yan, let’s go back, let’s go back!”
A-Yan brushed her off with force, her smile still unfaded, creating a terrifying sort of affection, and continued to dance. The woman had to chase her down the street, sobbing while running. A street vendor on the side spoke, “How awful. A-Yan from Blacksmith Zheng’s family has escaped again.”
“It must be horrible for her mom. A-Yan, A-Yan’s husband, and her husband… All of them were…”
Wei WuXian wandered around, piecing together the strange event that happened here from picking up on different people’s conversations.
On Dafan Mountain, there was a burial ground. Most of the ancestors of the townspeople from Buddha’s Feet were buried here and, sometimes, unidentifiable corpses would also receive a spot and a wooden plaque here. A few months ago, in a dark and stormy night, the wind and the rain caused a piece of land on Dafan Mountain to slide and collapse, which happened to be the burial ground. Many older graves were destroyed, and a few coffins were exposed to the air and struck by lightning, causing both the corpses and the coffins to be charred black.
The townspeople of Buddha’s Feet were extremely uneasy. After a few rounds of prayers, they rebuilt the burial ground again, assuming that everything would be just fine. However, ever since then, people in the town started to lose their souls.
The first one was a sluggard. He was a poor wretch, loafing about and doing no work at all. Because he loved to hike on the mountain and catch birds, he happened to be stuck in the mountain during the night of the landslide. He was frightened to death, but, luckily, he was safe. The peculiar thing was that, after a few days, he suddenly married someone. His wedding was quite large, and he said that he wanted to be charitable from now on and settle down.
On the night of the wedding, he was completely drunken, having never woken up ever since he lay on the bed. The bride didn’t receive an answer as she called him. Only when she pushed him over did she realize that the groom had dreary eyes and a cold body. Aside from being able to breathe, he was no different from a dead person. After a few days of lying on the bed, not eating or drinking anything, he was finally buried. Unfortunately, the bride had become a widow shortly after she married.
The second one was A-Yan, from Blacksmith Zheng’s family. The young girl had just received an engagement when her future husband was killed by a wolf on the second day, while he was hunting in the mountains. After she got the news, she also became like the sluggard. Luckily, after some time, her soul-losing disease was cured on its own. However, after this, she went crazy, cheerfully dancing to other people when she was outside.
The third one was A-Yan’s father, Blacksmith Zheng. Until now, this had happened to seven people.
Wei WuXian considered the situation, and figured that it was most likely a soul-consuming spirit, not a soul-consuming beast.
Although only one word was different between the two, they were completely different beings. A spirit was a ghost, while a beast was a monster. To him, it was likely that the landslide had destroyed an ancient tomb, and, with lightning splitting the coffin open, a resting spirit had been let out. If he looked at the type of coffin and the presence of any seals on it, he could figure out whether or not this was the case. However, the townsfolk of Buddha’s Feet had already buried the charred coffins somewhere else and laid the corpses to rest again, which meant that there wouldn’t be a great deal of evidence left.
To go up the mountain, one had to hike up trail that started in the town. Wei WuXian sat on his donkey and rode up the hill slowly. After a while, a few people walked down with ominous expressions on their faces.
Some of them had scars on their faces, and they were talking all at once. With the darkening sky, they all jumped as they saw a person who looked like a hanged ghost approaching them. After cursing, they walked around him quickly. Wei WuXian turned his head around and thought, maybe they were frustrated because it was a strong prey? He didn’t think too much about it and slapped the donkey’s buttocks, making it jog faster up the mountain.
Coincidentally, he missed the group’s whining, which happened shortly afterward.
“I haven’t seen anyone like this!”
“Would the leader of a big clan like that need to fight over a soul-consuming spirit with us? He probably killed tons of them when he was young.”
“What can we do? He’s a sect leader. No matter which clan you choose to offend, you shouldn’t offend the Jiang clan, and no matter which person you choose to offend, you shouldn’t offend Jiang Cheng. Let’s just pack up, leave, and feel sorry for ourselves!”
Compass of Evil: The literal translation is “Wind-evil Compass”.
Rice Mountain: The “fan” in “Dafan Mountain” means “relating to Buddhism,” but it also sounds similar to “rice,” so Wei WuXian mistakenly thought that it means “big rice mountain.”
Wei Ying: This is Wei WuXian’s birth name. In Ancient China, people usually don’t call others by their birth names, unless they were of the same age and close acquaintances with each other. It was considered disrespectful to even mention an elder’s birth name. The common name, or the “zi,” was another name given to the person by their parents, which other people can freely mention. In this case, by referring to Wei WuXian by his birth name, the speaker is showing his disregard for him.