Chapter 7 Arrogance—Part Two
If it was darker, then one would need a torch to move freely about in the mountain’s forest. Wei WuXian walked for a while, but he didn’t meet many cultivators. He was quite surprised, is it possible that half of the clans who came were in Buddha’s Feet arguing and talking empty words, while the other half could only come back defeated, like the group of people who just passed by?
Suddenly, cries for help came from in front of him.
“Is anyone there?”
Both male and female voices could be heard, and all sounded panicked, probably not faked. Cries for help from desolate mountains were usually the works of evil creatures, to lure ignorant people into traps. Yet, Wei WuXian was extremely happy.
The eviler the creature was, the better it was for him!
He directed the donkey toward the direction of the voices, but couldn’t find anything around him. As he looked upward, instead of spirits or monsters, it was the rural clan that he met by the field earlier on, hung on the trees by a huge, golden web.
The middle-aged man was originally patrolling and scouting in the forest with a few others. However, rather than meeting the prey that they had hoped for, they stepped into a net trap, probably set up by some wealthy clan, which was why they were hanging on the trees, complaining and calling for help.
After seeing that someone approached, they immediately brightened up, but the hope faded as they saw that it was a lunatic who came. Although the threads of the deity-binding net were thin, the material was fine in quality, making them difficult to break. No matter human, god, demon, spirit, or monster, it would take a long while for the intruder to struggle out since it could only be broken by a superior magical tool. The lunatic probably didn’t even know what it was, much less how to get them out of it.
He was about to call others to come help him when the crisp sounds of parting branches and stepping on leaves approached. A boy wearing a light-colored robe emerged from within the dark forest.
The boy had a vermilion mark in between his eyebrows, his features delicate yet sharp. He was quite young, around the same age as Lan SiZhui—still in his adolescence. He carried a bamboo canister of feathered arrows and a luminous sword on his back, holding a longbow in his hand. The embroidery on his clothes was extremely delicate, forming a magnificent white peony in front of his chest. The golden threads glistened against the dark nighttime shades surrounding him.
Wei WuXian silently exclaimed, “How wealthy!”
This must have been a young master studying in the LanlingJin Sect, since the sect was the only one with a white peony as the clan pattern, using the king of all flowers to suggest that they were the king of all cultivators. The vermilion mark implied the meaning of “opening the doors toward wisdom and aspiration; illuminating the world with the vermilion light.”
The young master already had an arrow on his bow and was preparing to shoot it, when he realized that the deity-binding nets only caught humans. After an initial moment of disappointment, he quickly became annoyed, “I find you idiots every single time. There are more than four hundred deity-binding nets in the mountain, but you guys have already broken ten or so, and I haven’t even seen the prey yet!”
Wei WuXian thought, again, “How wealthy!”
A single deity-binding net was already expensive, yet he had set up four hundred all at once. A smaller clan would’ve become bankrupt after buying so many, but then, of course, this was the LanlingJin Sect. However, wasting deity-binding webs like this and not caring about what they caught shouldn’t be considered night-hunting at all. In fact, it was almost as if they were chasing people away, not allowing others the chance of contributing to the process. It seemed that the cultivators who retreated earlier didn’t do it because the prey was difficult, but rather because this sect was one that shouldn’t be angered.
After a few days of traveling slowly and listening to the intriguing conversations at Buddha’s Feet, Wei WuXian gathered a lot of information about the changes to the cultivation world. As the final winner of the hundred-year-long cultivational disruption, the LanlingJin Sect was the head of all clans and sects—its leader was even referred to as the “commander” of all cultivators.
Even before this, the Jin Clan was arrogant, admirers of extravagant splendor. After the years of being at the top and while strengthening the sect, it had trained all of its disciples to do whatever they wanted to. Even a slightly weaker clan would have to submit to their humiliation, much less a small, rural clan such as this one. This was why, although the people trapped in the nets were red with fury, because of the mean words of the boy, they could not talk back.
The middle-aged man spoke with tolerance, “Please, Young Master, do us a small favor and let us down.”
The boy was restless with the anxiety of his prey still not arriving, and it was convenient for him to direct his anger toward the country bumpkins. He crossed his arms, “You guys should just stay here, in case you mess around and get in my way again! I’ll let you down after I catch the spirit-consuming beast, that is, if I still remember you.”
If they really stayed on the trees for the whole night and happened to bump into the creature that haunted Dafan Mountain, being unable to move, all they could do would be to wait for their souls to be sucked dry. The round-faced girl who gave an apple to Wei WuXian felt scared and started crying. Wei WuXian was originally cross-legged on the donkey, but as it heard the sob, his long ears quivered, and it suddenly leaped forward.
Following the leap came a long bray. If not for how horrible the bray sounded, its unstoppable vigor could almost pass for a purebred horse. Unprepared for this, Wei WuXian was thrown off of its back, almost injuring his head as he fell. The donkey ran head-first toward the boy as if it believed that it could knock him off his feet with its head. The boy’s arrow was still poised on the bow, conveniently drawing the bow toward its direction. Wei WuXian didn’t want to find a new mount so soon, so he quickly yanked on its reins. The boy took a look at him, a look of shock to suddenly appear on his face.
After a second, the shock turned into disdain. His mouth twitched, “So, it’s you.”
The tone was made of twenty percent surprise and eighty percent disgust, making Wei WuXian blink. The boy spoke again, “Did you lose your marbles after you were thrown back to your village? How could they let you outside when you looked as freaky as this?”
Did he really just hear something of such significance?
Might it be, Wei WuXian suddenly realized, that Mo XuanYu’s father isn’t the head of some small sect, but the famous Jin GuangShan?
Jin GuangShan was the last leader of the LanlingJin Sect, having already passed away. On the topic of this man, one sentence could not tell the whole story. He had a fierce wife from a prominent family and, in fact, he was known for being scared of her. However, even if he was scared, it never stopped him from going to other women. No matter how fierce Madame Jin was, it was impossible for her to follow him twenty-four hours a day. Therefore, from ladies of distinguished statuses to prostitutes in rural areas, if he could get his hands on one, he wouldn’t miss the chance. And, although he enjoyed casual relationships and flirted everywhere, having an uncountable amount of illegitimate children, it was extremely easy for him to get bored.
After he grew tired a woman, he would forget about her completely, without any responsibility or whatsoever. Among all of his illegitimate children, there was only one who proved to be exceptionally talented and ended up being taken back—the current leader of the LanlingJin Sect, Jin GuangYao. Moreover, Jin GuangShan didn’t die honorably either. He believed that he was old but vigorous, and wanted to challenge himself, fooling around with a group of women. However, unfortunately, he failed and passed away during the act. This was too humiliating, and so, the LanlingJin Sect told the public that the old leader died from overworking himself. All of the other clans decided to keep silent about the matter and pretended that they didn’t know anything. Anyways, those were the real reasons behind his “fame.”
During the siege in Luanzang Hill, aside from Jiang Cheng, Jin GuangShan was the second-greatest contributor. And now, Wei WuXian had taken over the body of his own illegitimate son. He really didn’t know if they were even with each other.
Seeing that he was spacing out, the boy grew even more annoyed, “Get out of here! It’s disgusting just looking at you, you damn gay!”
In terms of his generation, it was highly possible for Mo XuanYu to be an elder to the boy, maybe an uncle. After being humiliated by a junior like this, Wei WuXian thought that even if not for his own sake, he needed to return the humiliation for Mo XuanYu’s body, “What an attitude! I suppose that you didn’t have a mother to teach you?”
Hearing his words, two raging flames sparked in the boy’s eyes. He unsheathed the sword on his back and threatened, “What… Did you say?”
The blade of the sword shone a golden light. It was a rare sword of high quality—most clans probably couldn’t get a small piece of it even if they spent their whole lives saving for it. Wei WuXian examined it attentively, somehow thinking that the sword seemed familiar to him. Then again, he had seen his share of gold, top-notch swords. He didn’t think too much about it and began to spin a tiny cloth bag that he held in his hand.
It was a makeshift “spirit-locking bag” that he had created a few days ago, using the scraps and pieces of things. As the boy wielded the sword and came toward him, he fished a piece of human-shaped paper out of the spirit-locking bag. He shifted to the side, avoiding the attack, and slapped the paper onto his opponent’s back.
The boy’s movements were already fast, but Wei WuXian had done a lot of “tripping someone while slapping a talisman onto their back”, which meant that he was faster. The boy suddenly felt his torso become numb, his back weakening, and he unwillingly collapsed onto the ground, with his sword also falling to the side with a clunk. He couldn’t get up no matter how hard he tried, as if a mountain was on top of him. On his back, there was a ghost who had died from gluttony, crushing him to the point that he couldn’t even breathe. Although the ghost was weak, it was completely capable of dealing with brats like this one. Wei WuXian picked up his sword, weighed it in his hands, and swung toward the direction of the deity-binding net, splitting it in half.
The family fell to the ground in an awkward way, but they sprinted off without saying anything. The round-faced girl seemed as if she wanted to thank him, but she was pulled away by an elder, who was scared that Young Master Jin would hate them even more. The boy on the ground was fuming, “You damn gay! Good for you, taking this sort of wrong path because you didn’t have enough spiritual powers to do anything! Watch out for your life! Do you know who came today? Today, I…”
Although the cultivation method that he used in the past was often criticized and, in the long term, it harmed the cultivator’s health, it could be mastered quickly. It was also especially attractive because there were no limitations as to the cultivator’s spiritual powers or talent, making it so that there were always people who secretly practiced it to find a shortcut. The boy presumed that, after being chased from the LanlingJin Sect, Mo XuanYu had chosen the dishonorable path, which was a reasonable conclusion to draw, saving Wei WuXian from a lot of unnecessary trouble.
The boy pushed on the ground, but couldn’t get up even after a few tries. His face was scarlet and he gritted his teeth, “If you don’t stop, I’m gonna tell my uncle, and you’re gonna wait for your death!”
Wei WuXian wondered, “Why is it your uncle, not your dad? Who’s your uncle, again?”
A voice suddenly came from behind him, a mixture of being bitter and cold.
“I am his uncle. Do you have any last words?”
Hearing the voice, all of the blood from Wei WuXian’s body traveled to his head and drained away a moment later. The good thing was that his face was already a pile of white. A shade whiter wouldn’t make too much of a difference.
A violet-clothed youth approached in confident steps, his jianxiu robe flowing smoothly and his hand pressing on the hilt of his sword. A silver bell hung by his waist, although it made no sound as he walked.
The young man had thin brows and almond eyes. His features were handsome in a sharp way, and his eyes held a composed vigor, with a slight intention of attack, appearing to be two bolts of lightning as he stared. He stood ten steps away from Wei WuXian, his expression resembling a honed arrow on the bow, ready to be released at any moment. Even his posture emitted an air of arrogance and overconfidence.
He frowned, “Jin Ling, why did you linger for so long? Do you really need me to come and pick you up? Look at what a terrible situation you’re in right now, and get up!”
After the initial numbing of his head, Wei WuXian quickly realized what was going on. He curled a finger inside his sleeve and made the piece of paper retreat. Jin Ling felt his back lighten and immediately rolled up, grabbing his sword in the process. He shifted near Jiang Cheng and pointed at Wei WuXian accusingly, “I’m gonna break your legs!”
With the pair of uncle and nephew standing beside each other, it was clear that they shared a close resemblance, probably able to pass for brothers. Jiang Cheng moved his finger, and the paper doll swiftly flew out of Wei WuXian’s hand and into his own. After taking one look at it, hostility came over his face. He pressured his fingers, and the paper was ignited, burning to dust with the screams of dark spirits.
Jiang Cheng spoke grimly, “Break his legs? Haven’t I told you? If you see this sort of evil and crooked practice, kill the cultivator and feed him to your dogs!”
Wei WuXian couldn’t even attempt to grab his donkey, backing away at rapid speed. He thought that, after so many years, no matter how much hatred Jiang Cheng had held for him, it would have disappeared long ago. He didn’t expect that not only did it not disappear, it became richer, as if it was a jar of aged alcohol. At the present time, his hatred had grown to affect even people who cultivated like him!
With someone backing him up, Jin Ling’s attacks became more aggressive. Wei WuXian slid two fingers into the spirit-locking bag, about to take something out, when suddenly, the blue glare of a sword slashed out like lightning. It collided with Jin Ling’s sword, breaking the powerful sword’s golden rays in an instant.
It wasn’t because of the quality of the swords, but rather the great disparity in the strengths of the persons using the swords. Wei WuXian had originally calculated the timing, but his movements were suddenly interrupted by the sword’s glare, causing him to trip. He fell toward the ground, right on top of a pair of snow-white boots. After pausing for a moment, he slowly lifted his head.
What first came into his sight was a long, slender blade, crystalline and translucent, as if it was made of ice.
In the cultivation world, this sword was one of the most famous ones. Wei WuXian had experienced its powers countless times, including both battles fought beside it and against it. The hilt of the sword was forged from pure silver that had been refined with secret techniques. The blade of the sword was extremely thin, almost transparent, sending forth the cold breaths of ice and snow. However, at the same time, it could cut through iron like cutting through mud. This was why, although the sword looked light, as if it could fly away any instant, it was actually quite heavy, unable to be wielded by the average person.
Its name was “Bichen.”
The blade turned, and the clank of the sword being inserted back into the scabbard sounded from above Wei WuXian. At the same time, Jiang Cheng’s voice came from afar, “And I was wondering who it was. So, it is you, Second Young Master Lan.”
The pair of white boots passed around Wei WuXian and calmly walked three steps forward. Wei WuXian raised his head and got up. As he walked past the former, slightly brushing their shoulders, he made eye contact with him for a short moment, pretending that it was unintentional.
He had an aura of smooth moonlight. The seven-stringed zither that he carried on his back was narrower than most. Its body was black, made using wood of soft color.
The man wore a forehead ribbon with cloud patterns. His skin was fair, features both refined and elegant, as if he was a piece of polished jade. The color of his eyes was especially light, like they were made of colored glass, causing his gaze to be overly distant. His expression held the traces of frost and snow, stern to the degree of being stiff, unwavering even as he saw Wei WuXian’s ridiculous face.
There wasn’t a single spec of dust or wrinkled spot on him, from his head to his feet. It was impossible to find any fault with his appearance. Even so, two capitalized words jumped into Wei WuXian’s mind.
Mourning clothes, indeed. Although all of the clans in the cultivation world used extravagant words to describe the GusuLan Sect’s uniform as the best-looking uniform and Lan WangJi as an incomparable beauty who only appeared once in a blue moon, nothing could help the bitter facial expression that made him look as though his wife had passed away.
In an unlucky year, enemies would often find their paths to cross; good news always traveled alone, but one disaster always followed the next… Thus, the situation right now.
Lan WangJi was silent, staring straight ahead, standing motionlessly in front of Jiang Cheng. Jiang Cheng was already exceptionally handsome, but as they stood face to face with each other, he still seemed a few degrees inferior. He raised one brow and spoke, “HanGuang-Jun, you sure live up to your reputation of ‘being wherever the chaos is’. So, you had time to come to this remote area today?”
Powerful cultivators from prominent clans usually didn’t care to pay attention to lower level preys. However, Lan WangJi was an exception. He never cared for the prey of a night-hunt, and wouldn’t refuse to go just because the creature was not threatening enough to increase his fame. If anyone wanted help, he would be there. He had been like this ever since he was young. “Being wherever the chaos is” was the comment that the public gave him for his night-hunts and, also, praise for his moral character. Right now, Jiang Cheng really didn’t seem too polite as he said the words in such a tone. Even the juniors who came following Lan WangJi didn’t seem comfortable hearing it.
Lan JingYi spoke straightforwardly, “Isn’t Sect Leader Jiang here as well?”
Jiang Cheng replied grimly, “Tsk, do you really think that you should butt in when your seniors are conversing? The GusuLan Sect has always been known for its respectful conduct. Is this really how it teaches its disciples?”
Lan WangJi seemed as if he didn’t want to engage in conversation, throwing Lan SiZhui a look. The latter understood and told the juniors to speak among themselves. Afterward, he spoke to Jin Ling, “Young Master Jin, night-hunts have always been fair competitions amongst the different clans and sects. However, to set up nets all over Dafan Mountain is clearly hindering the cultivators, causing them to fall into the traps. Is this or is this not against the rules of night-hunting?”
Jin Ling’s grim expression was exactly the same as his uncle’s, “What can I do? It was their own fault for stepping into the traps. I’ll solve everything after I finish capturing the prey.”
Lan WangJi frowned. Jin Ling was about to speak again, but he suddenly realized that, shockingly, he could neither open his mouth nor make any sounds. Seeing that Jin Ling’s upper and lower lips became inseparable as if they were glued together, anger appeared on Jiang Cheng’s face. The sloppy manners that he upheld before this were all gotten rid of, “You, with the Lan surname! What do you mean by this? It’s not your turn to discipline Jin Ling yet, so release the spell, now!”
The silence spell was used by the Lan Sect to reprimand its disciples. Wei WuXian had suffered a ton from this little trick. Although it wasn’t anything too complicated or obscure, only people of the Lan Clan could release the spell. If one wanted to forcibly speak, it would result in either their lips being ripped bloody or a hoarse throat for a couple of days. The only solution was to stay silent and reflect upon the wrongdoings until the time limit of the punishment was over. Lan SiZhui spoke, “Sect Leader Jiang, there is no need for anger. As long as he does not break the spell forcefully, it would release on its own, after thirty minutes.”
Before Jiang Cheng opened his mouth to speak, a purple-clothed man in the Jiang Sect’s uniform ran toward them from within the forest. He shouted, “Sect Leader!” However, after seeing Lan WangJi’s presence, he hesitated. Jiang Cheng spoke satirically, “Talk. Is there more bad news?”
The man spoke in a low voice, “Not long ago, a blue sword flew over and destroyed the deity-binding nets that you had set up.”
Jiang Cheng glanced at Lan WangJi harshly, his displease plastered all over his face, “How many were broken?”
The man replied carefully, “… All of them…”
That’s more than four hundred!
Jiang Cheng seethed with anger.
He didn’t expect the journey to be this unlucky. Originally, he came to help Jin Ling out. Jin Ling would be turning fifteen this year, the age of which he should already be making his debut and starting to compete with the juniors of other clans. Jiang Cheng considered the decision carefully before choosing Dafan Mountain as the location of the hunt. He also set up nets everywhere and threatened the cultivators of other clans, showing them the consequences so that they would retreat, in order to let Jin Ling take the top prize without anyone fighting against him.
Although four hundred deity-binding nets were a whopping price, it wasn’t too much for the YunmengJiang Sect. Nonetheless, losing the nets were a small matter, but losing face was not. With Lan WangJi’s actions, Jiang Cheng felt a whirlpool of anger at the bottom of his heart, rising higher by every second. He narrowed his eyes, his left hand casually stroking the ring on his right hand’s index finger.
This was a dangerous sign.
Everyone knew that the ring was a menacing, strong magical weapon. Whenever Clan Leader Jiang started touching it, it meant that he had the intent to kill.
Vermilion mark: In the past, vermilion marks were drawn on children to “pierce through ignorance” in hope of them being good students later on in life, thus what the implied meaning referred to.
Young Master: Although the man wasn’t the boy’s servant, in Ancient China, one should still refer to the young master of any family as “Young Master”, especially if the family was of higher status than the speaker’s.
Jianxiu: This is a type clothing with sleeves that are wider on the shoulder end and becomes quite narrow by the time it reaches the wrist. However, this really doesn’t matter, because most fanart show him dressed in other ways.
Jar: In Ancient China, alcohol were stored in large jars made of clay.
Bichen: The name means “to avoid dust.” However, please do not pronounce it like bitchin’. The correct pronunciation is bee-chen, with the en sounding like the en in enough.