Translated by Aphelios of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
“You clear this up with me right now. Why are you apologizing to me?!” Xiaoshen demanded as he squeezed Daomi’s neck.
Daomi wanted to remove Xiaoshen’s hands, but he was already a bit tipsy, and even if he wasn’t drunk, he still wouldn’t be able to escape that strong grip. “Brother Xiaoshen… Brother Xiaoshen, calm down. What are you doing? Are you drunk? I already apologized. I’m sorry!”
Daomi was really scared. He just temporarily forgot and made an allegory using a tortoise.
Thank god this happened at Biqiao Peak. He wouldn’t bring this matter to Martial Uncle, would he? Gods, Martial Uncle was even more unreasonable, than Brother Xiaoshen.
“Tell me now, who’s the bastard (Wangba)?” 1 Xiaoshen asked menacingly. “Don’t think I didn’t hear what you actually meant there. You think I’m a bastard!”
How did the conversation go down this lane? Daomi cautiously said, “Brother Xiaoshen, aren’t you, well, aren’t you part of the tortoise clan…?”
“When did I ever say I was part of the tortoise clan??” Xiaoshen asked in anger.
“But… your body is obviously very tough…”
Daomi was too afraid to speak honestly, and decided to pass the blame onto everyone else. “Everyone said so. I heard it from the others too.”
……Fang Cun, that old thief!!
Xiaoshen was once again about to curse out Fang Cun. The Yuling sect was surely a place where the upper beams weren’t right and the lower beams were also crooked. 2 It was exactly because of water stealing people, like Fang Cun, acting as the founder of the sect, that we get these disciples who randomly label people as tortoises.
“You go and explain to them that I’m most definitely not part of the tortoise clan!” Xiaoshen grabbed Daomi by the neck in rage.
“……Okay.” Whether they actually listen or not is not my problem, Daomi thought to himself. They based their hypothesis on evidence. But now that he mentioned it, what clan was Brother Xiaoshen from? Daomi wasn’t able to figure it out after much contemplation. With a hard shell like that, how was it possible that he’s not part of the tortoise clan? Then what was he? It must be something that had a shell right? A river snail?
“You can crawl away now.” Xiaoshen glared at Daomi coldly.
“Ah…” Daomi added, “Brother Xiaoshen, remember that you still have to attend class tomorrow. I know I misspoke but I don’t adjust the salt when eating noodles. We made this clear beforehand 3 , you cannot use this as an excuse to skip class.”
This starling was so annoying.
Xiaoshen looked like a wilted cabbage as he despondently walked into Shang Jiyu room. Shang Jiyu saw Xiaoshen dragging his feet into the room and was tempted to laugh at his plight, however, he held it back in. “Your complexion is terrible. Did you lose a drinking bet?”
“Of course not!” Xiaoshen immediately refuted.
He wasn’t feeling gloomy because of this, but he didn’t want to tell Shang Jiyu the truth – that he was labelled a tortoise.
Xiaoshen sat on the couch as well and asked, “How come you’re still here?”
Shang Jiyu suddenly turned over and pressed Xiaoshen onto the couch; his pitch black hair scattered onto Xiaoshen’s chest as he leaned over him. At the same time, he flicked away the ink essence, that was poking his arm with its sword.
He lamented deeply, “I gave you that wine… It’s fine if you don’t want me to drink it with you, but at least you can sleep with me tonight.”
“You’re bullying it again!” Xiaoshen took one look and saw Yu Yi fly out, hit the table, and get covered by a tea cup. As he struggled to get free, Xiaoshen shouted, “No way!”
Shang Jiyu raised the corner of his lips and his eyes darkened with hints of danger reflecting in his pupils, “…Then, at the very least, say one sentence.”
It was that request again. This was not the first time Shang Jiyu said that, Xiaoshen recalled. He finally thought it was odd. “What exactly do you want to hear?”
Shang Jiyu originally wanted Xiaoshen to say it himself, but it was evident that this youth would not be able to get it without help
Shang Jiyu stared straight at him and said, “The sentence that you said to ‘him’.“
Which sentence? Xiaoshen still didn’t understand what he was getting at.
Shang Jiyu stood up and drew near, “No matter if it’s Yu Zhao or anyone else, they only look like ‘me’.” The word ‘me’ was spit out through clench teeth.
Shang Jiyu would of course remember the words that Xiaoshen said to ‘him’. It was the first time that he felt traces of jealousy towards another version of himself. They were originally one entity; no one was able to tell them apart, and it seemed as if no one thought their degree of cruelty were any different.
But now, ‘he’ became different. At first, the difference in treatment had only slightly piqued Shang Jiyu’s interest in its novelty, and he found it laughable. However, now, he felt discontent – all because of one phrase that Xiaoshen probably said on a whim.
That one phrase made ‘him’ special, but Xiaoshen only said it to ‘him‘, but he heard it too, and carved it into his heart. He even stood up for Xiaoshen in the hopes of guiding the young man to say that phrase to him.
Even if it was said in duress, it didn’t matter. He just wanted to hear it.
Xiaoshen really did say it on a whim. Who knew that Shang Jiyu still remembered it.
“How am I supposed to say that to you? You’re so annoying, is everyone from the Yuling Sect as annoying as you? That doesn’t sound right!” They were obviously just as annoying as Fang Cun. It was not his turn yet.
Shang Jiyu closed his eyes. He already had Xiaoshen pressed onto the couch, and now, he seemed to press even closer and said threateningly, “Think about it again.”
Xiaoshen previously thought Daomi’s bird like eyes were retarded, but now, he quite admired it and wished he had the same defect; one eyeball looking to the upper left side and the other eyeball looking to the lower right side, at least then he wouldn’t have to look at Shang Jiyu eye to eye.
The way that Shang Jiyu stared at him made him feel like he was about to be bitten!
Shang Jiyu suddenly moved.
Xiaoshen was frightened to the point where he almost spread his scales. Luckily, he remembered he was a dragon, so even if Shang Jiyu bit him, it wouldn’t do much harm.
But the very next moment, Shang Jiyu sunk into silence. It didn’t matter what he originally wanted to do, it seemed that he abruptly decided to give up.
Xiaoshen didn’t know what Shang Jiyu was thinking. His expression fluctuated and his fingers fastened tightly onto Xiaoshen’s waist.
After a brief period, Shang Jiyu once again lifted his eyes…
Did they swap?
Xiaoshen smiled in joy as he circled his arms around Shang Jiyu’s body and shared his grievance, “Daomi said that they were all guessing that I’m part of the tortoise clan behind my back.”
He immediately forgot about what just happened.
Shang Jiyu sat in a slightly crouched position to accommodate Xiaoshen, who didn’t even raise his head and only adjusted his body to find a better spot in Shang Jiyu’s embrace, thus he wasn’t able to see the tinge of redness on the other’s cheeks…
Jiyu’s tone was still quiet and formal as he lightly hugged Xiaoshen. “How could this be possible?”
Especially with the way Xiaoshen was wrapped around him, he was most definitely a Jiao, and the legendary kind to boot.
“Exactly, which is why I need to settle this with them.” Xiaoshen humphed.
Xiaoshen sat in front of a table and practiced his calligraphy while Yu Yi held up the page that he was copying from and the other two ink essences helped him grind the ink on the inkstone.
An outer disciple walked in carrying a book, “Library Master, I would like to borrow…”
Xiaoshen gave him a glance and asked, “Which clan do you think I’m from?”
How could one not know what clan one’s in? In the past, the Library Master had always just asked about his cultivation. The disciple said at a loss, “I heard that the Library Master was part of the tortoise…”
He just began to talk when Xiaoshen immediately snatched his book away. “Not lending. Crawl away!”
You’re a tortoise!
Disciple, “…Library Master, you’re going too far!”
Xiaoshen exclaimed in anger, “So what are you planning to do? Go head to head with me?”
…….Are you sure you’re not a tortoise…
What did he do wrong? The Disciple changed his composure into a teary and pitiful look and said, “Library Master, just lend in to me. I really wanted to read <The Origins of the Five Thunder Spell>…”
The little ink essences too placed their ink down and made noises of discontent toward this disciple who caused the Library Master’s ire. Even though no one knew what they were saying, but from their manner, it was rather evident that they were words of admonishment.
They even pointed towards the book and then towards the disciple, and denounced that he was not worthy of learning from the book.
Outer disciple, “……”
The ink essence lackeys ejected the poor confused disciple, who until now still did not understand what he did wrong.
Similar scenarios continued on frequently. Under Xiaoshen’s random questioning, a large portion of those that came in answered what they thought were the standard reply, and were consequently stripped of their borrower’s privilege.
There were some disciples that saw what happened before them, yet they too truly did not know what Xiaoshen’s race was, so they simply replied that they didn’t know. That answer too was not acceptable and they were ejected as well.
Xiaoshen, “There’s no point in them practicing cultivation with this kind of poor observation skills.”
A group of disciples gathered together to discuss what that illiterate was doing running around.
Now, they finally understood why Xiaoshen hated that others gossip about his original form, but it was too late. Some still didn’t believe that Xiaoshen wasn’t a tortoise, and simply thought that he didn’t like others saying it out loud. Others like Daomi started making new hypotheses and conjectures.
Of course, the most important issue right now was that the Library Master went crazy. A lot of people already became like Xuan Wuzi. What should they do?
Library Masters of the past all had their eccentricities; that was completely normal. Some would deny access to the library purely because the person wore a color that the Library Master hated.
Their eccentricities may differ, but they all have a common passion – their love of books. If these disciples wanted to once again obtain the Library Master’s approval, they just had to work in this direction.
But… Library Master Xiaoshen……
Was proving to be a bit difficult.
“In my opinion, they’ve picked the wrong Library Master from the very beginning! His knowledge is shallow, his cultivation is low, besides his shell being hard, what other merits does he have? And he won’t let others comment on his shell. With the library under his tyrannical control, it is now beyond difficult for those of us who want to learn.” An outer disciple complained pitifully. He was only an outer disciple and a newbie to boot. His only way to increase his cultivation and learn more spells was through self-studying at the library.
At this moment, a senior cultivator passed by, saw them huddled together, and asked on the whim, “What are you all doing?”
Everyone was already filled with rage and upon seeing a person come over, all happily began to rant their outrage and discontent. Even if there was a teeny tiny hope of forcing this Library Master to step down, they held on to it.
“Shishu 4 Ying Yuanzi, we were originally looking forward to you becoming the Library Master. Is there really no chance of that happening?”
“Shishu’s talent is tens of thousands and thousands times better than that Xiaoshen.”
“Exactly! How cute Library Master Xiaoshen is, is how diabolical he is!”
No one knew who it was that said this. Everyone looked behind their back one after the other.
Who knew that Ying Yuanzi would say this as he yawned, “Ridiculous! I know Xiaoshen very well and his scholarship is expansive. If he refused to lend you guys the books, it’s surely because you all don’t have the qualifications. Now hurry up and go practice your cultivation!”
After he finished, he floated away from the dumbstruck group.
There was no way that Ying Yuanzi would oppose Xiaoshen after he received the wine from him; not only that, he shamelessly complimented Xiaoshen’s scholarship…
It wasn’t just Ying Yuanzi. Other high ranking cultivators also had their apprehensions and would either evade or ignore this issue.
“Why don’t we just skip the civility and use force? Cover him with a bag and beat the crap out of him.”
Someone weakly suggested.
The scene immediately became silent, and quickly broke into chatters.
“I’ll go find Daomi and see what the Library Master likes.”
“I’ll go try to borrow the book again. Maybe this time, I’ll get lucky and he’ll spare me.”
“I’ll go too…”
Who dared to go… You really wanted to see how sturdy your magic weapons were?
Besides, what if they were caught? The Library Master has always been considered half a master. They’re finished if they beat him up.
Meanwhile, at the library…
Xiaoshen asked Daomi, “What did you find out from your investigation?”
Daomi’s two eyes were blurred, “I only read 30% of this… these are what I discovered.”
These all concerned the control of spirits through rings and spells at various sects, and were primarily restricted books.
“Read the ones you found to me first.” Xiaoshen was excited.
Daomi propped himself up by force and asked, “Brother Xiaoshen, did you finish memorizing the poem yet?”
Xiaoshen waved his hands carelessly and said, “It was too convoluted. Didn’t memorize it.”
……It’s alright. We’ll take it slowly.
Afterall, Daomi didn’t dare to go head to head with Brother Xiaoshen.
He read the first section to Xiaoshen. After he was done, he grabbed the next volume and repeated the action. “The ocean is filled with water. The book is filled with words. I learned to write today, what my thoughts have pondered……”
After reading a few words, he discovered that something was off. “This is wrong… wrong.”
He took one look at the book in his hands and discovered that it wasn’t part of his volume. It was the works of an outer disciple and a new book at that, which was why it was sitting outside. It probably got stuck there by accident.
He just didn’t understand what the writer was thinking. There were records of Taoist discourse such as <The Necessity of Longevity> and <Freedom of Worldly Concerns> along with his daily dose of twisted poetry.
“Wait, wait. That poem just now was pretty good!” Xiaoshen felt a sudden rush of delight. He has been memorizing poetry lately, but he felt that they were dry and boring no matter how much he memorized. This poem on the other hand was different. It literally reflected his inner thoughts in writing.
Daomi was speechless, “……”
What do you mean by pretty good? It’s because you finally found a poem you could understand…
Xiaoshen, “This is pretty good! Is there anymore? Read another one to me. I personally think that this poem is what you meant by meaningful and clear. See: ‘The ocean is filled with water. The book is filled with words. I learned to write today, what my thoughts have pondered.’ I only heard it once and had it memorized!”
The definition of meaningful and clear was about to die from shame.
This time, even those lackey ink essences were quiet and pretended not to hear their master’s words.
“What’s the name of the writer?” Xiaoshen asked in keen interest.
Daomi took one look, “Here, Yun Ziran (Cloud Nature).”
Xiaoshen nodded in approval, “Even the name is very good. I like how it sounds.”
It wasn’t that the name ‘Ziran’ 5 was not good. It was okay. After all Taoism advocated naturalness. The problem was, the cultivators of today were similar to ordinary humans when choosing their names; they all followed trends.
It was just like back in the days when everyone was imitating Yu Zhao and gave their disciples or their descendants the name ‘Zhao’.
A few hundred years ago, everyone thought the character ‘Xian’ 6 was good, so names such as Sun Xian Fu littered the streets, and there were Feng Xian, Xian Gong, etc.
This ‘Ziran’ was once a fad as well. Daomi personally knew at least thirty or so ‘Zirans’.
“Are there other poems here? Read me a few more.” Xiaoshen asked.
Daomi’s lips moved slightly in distaste but still continued to read on, “……Walking the world on eight long legs, holding up its pincers to brag to all. Yet now it has fallen in my hands, unarmed from its weapons and released from its shield. Once proclaimed itself as king and ruler, yet once cooked it looked like its mother.”
This poem was a story about a poet eating crabs. Evidently, he ate the crab’s entire family.
“This poem is about crabs right?” Xiaoshen made out the meaning of the poem and began laughing and kicking in joy. “It is very interesting. It’s terrific! He brought the poem to life! Read another one!”
Previously, Daomi had read him a poem about swords and told him that even though the poem did not once explicitly mention the word sword, it was filled with the shadows of the sword, so much so that the reader could feel the sword intent in the poem. Xiaoshen didn’t feel the same way and was completely clueless on the writer’s usage of allusions.
He was able to understand this poem and found it witty even though it didn’t have the word crab in it either.
Daomi’s eyes twitched and continued to read one poem after another. This was originally just added at the end of the book and there weren’t a lot, so he was able to quickly finish reading them.
Xiaoshen didn’t have enough and even addressed the writer differently. “This Ziran truly is a Daoist spiritual master and a talented man. Leave the book here. I’ll use it to practice my writing.”
He didn’t even know what to say anymore. Should he be thankful to this Daoist Master Ziran for inducing Brother Xiaoshen’s interest in learning or detest him for leading Brother’s Xiaoshen esthetics to a twisted path?
Daomi consoled himself that things would get better, it would get better in the future. After Brother Xiaoshen read and studied more, he would understand what was truly good.
“Library… Library Master…… Brother Xiaoshen… I want to borrow a book.” A disciple asked meekly with his head down and praying that the Library Master would let him go this time.
“Wait a moment. I need to test you first.” Xiaoshen said.
This disciple felt sorrow hit him in waves. Here he comes. It was over.
Xiaoshen, “Here, recite the Daoist Master Yun Ziran’s famous piece <The Songs of the Plum Blossom>, and give me an analysis on its merits.”
Famous piece? Where did that come from? How come he never heard of it?
It was a good thing that the Library Master was finally testing them on the literature, but who the heck was Yun Ziran?
Xiaoshen just carefully studied a few poems now and was very enthusiastic about it and wanted to discuss it with someone.
The disciple was unexpectedly confused and was not up to pace with Xiaoshen’s rhythm.
Xuan Wuzi, who was hiding in the back, suddenly felt a spark of hope. He has perfect retentive memory (there were plenty of people with this skill at Yuling), and had come upon the <Freedom of Worldly Concerns> once in the past. Even though he just took a look and passed it, he still had some impressions of the writing.
“You’re talking about ‘Under the flutters of the pure white snow, the plum blossoms cluttered the tree stems’, right?” Xuan Wuzi was wild with joy. He had been trying to find a way to win Xiaoshen’s favor, and now finally found an opening.
But he truly cannot think of any merits to the writing and after a long while, came out with one phrase, “Easy to understand.”
“Yes!” Xiaoshen happily exclaimed and pointed at Xuan Wuzi, “Your level has improved. Come here and talk.”
The rest, “……”
Why would the Library Master enjoy this type of poetry? Don’t tell me that in order to borrow books in the future, they all had to force themselves to discuss this type of twisted poetry with him?
Before, everyone was complaining that the Library Master didn’t have any interest in literature. He finally gained interest now… but they couldn’t bring themselves to be happy.
Wasn’t he a god gifted genius, making progress at the speed of lightning; one who does not require them to understand and memorize complex ancient scrolls and text right away but eventually? Why would he revere this type of thing? They felt their aesthetics breaking apart just listening to it.
What was going on……
For a while, everyone’s burning gazes could be seen looking at Daomi.
It must be this starling’s fault!
This damned starling! Always speaking in idioms and making sarcastic remarks. Calling mother-in-law sister-in-law — even when there’s nothing to say, he would still find words to say!
The author has something to say:
Turtle shell, off, off, off!
- 王八 Wangba is a tortoise in Chinese, but can also mean bastard when used to describe/insult someone.
- “The upper beams weren’t right and the lower beams crooked.” – it’s an idiom that means the subordinates are copying the vices of their superiors. If the top is crooked, so will the bottom.
- “Made clear beforehand” [有言在先 you yan zai xian]’s ‘yan’ is a homophone of salt.
- Shishu – an elderly who is similar in age or position to the grandmaster.
- “Ziran” can mean natural.
- “Xian” means immortal; heavenly.