Translated by Rikko of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
Editor: Addis, WagahaiFujoshi
After being briefly stunned, Zhong Yan didn’t even have the time to care about Gu XuanYan holding his hand as he asked with uncertainty, “Wait, does that mean… you are coming with me?”
Before Gu XuanYan could answer, the Sect Leader hollered, flames of his fury roaring strong, “XuanYan, do you not remember how the sect treated you during your years of training here? Are you trying to walk out on the sect right after gaining some achievements?”
Gu XuanYan lifted his head towards the Sect Leader. Unexpectedly, he let out a chuckle after a while of silence, “Of course I remember how the sect treated me.”
Despite saying so, his tone was void of gratitude, nor did he retract his pressure.
A jolt coursed through Zhong Yan upon hearing that. Afraid Gu XuanYan would settle both old and new scores right there and then once the desire to murder started welling up in him, he urged, “Let’s go then.”
He headed towards his quarters while tugging Gu XuanYan along, paying no mind the need to bow or any other etiquettes.
Only then did Gu XuanYan draw his pressure back in and followed obediently behind Zhong Yan.
Raging with anger, the sect leader exploded towards the backs of the two, “Fine! If you two set foot down the mountains today, no longer are you two Green Summit’s disciples, nor do you two have the right to return to Green Summit!”
Zhong Yan took a subconscious glance at Gu XuanYan, whose sight remained straight ahead. Noticing Zhong Yan’s eyes on him, Gu XuanYan directed a comforting smile at Zhong Yan.
Calmness fell upon Zhong Yan in an instant. He turned his head back to the front and walked straight ahead. Truth be told, after a few rounds of circling his room, Zhong Yan realised there wasn’t much to be packed; only a few fragments of silver money and a sword.
Although his wound stopped bleeding, quite a bit of blood had stained his robes, prompting him to change his clothes.
Gu XuanYan was waiting by the door for Zhong Yan to finish packing. Once he saw Zhong Yan stepping out, he spoke gently, “Senior Brother, let’s go.”
By the time they got out of their quarters, a crowd of disciples had already gathered by the roadside. Hesitation clouded over their face as they saw the two nearing them. After a moment of faltering, one of them finally started, “Senior Gu, are you seriously going to leave?”
The question opened the floodgates of the crowd’s emotions. As urgency surged through every one of them, they began to clamor instantly.
“Senior Gu, perhaps Sect Leader was just speaking in a fit of rage. How would he have the heart to let you go?”
“Senior Gu, what will happen to Green Summit if you leave?”
Some of the female disciples had tears welling up their eyes, “Senior Gu, We don’t want you to leave.”
A disciple older than Gu XuanYan coaxed with well-meaning advice, “Junior Gu, just wait for a bit and apologise to the Sect Leader. Perhaps the Sect Leader will soften his heart and let you and your… erm…your…” The disciple glanced at Zhong Yan. After a while of stammering, he still couldn’t get the word ’Dao partner’ out of his mouth, so he switched up his words instead, “…let you and Senior Qin stay.”
In contrast to the crowd’s outburst, Gu XuanYan gave a calm and firm answer, “The dice has been cast; I thank all of you.” Still, his tone was much better than when he faced the Sect Leader.
Knowing any further persuasion would be pointless upon hearing that, the crowd fell into silence.
Only Qing You, who was standing by a side, squeezed through the crowd to hand a bottle of medicine to Zhong Yan, “For your shoulder wound. Remember to apply it.”
A warm tingle spread throughout Zhong Yan’s heart as he took the medicine. He raised his hand to give Qing You a pat on the shoulders. Just as he was about to say, ‘I’ll come back to visit you when I’m free,’ he remembered the Sect Leader forbidding them from returning. He changed up his reply, “Come visit me when you are free.”
The gloom on Qing You’s face dissipated, “The nerve of you to say that.”
Still, Qing You didn’t outright refuse Zhong Yan.
Since Gu XuanYan and Zhong Yan were expelled from the sect, the Sect Leader ordered everyone not to send them off. The gathering by the roadside could actually be considered a violation.
By the time they reached the gates of Green Summit, not a single soul was near them.
A gaze was all it took to realise the danger lying in Green Summit’s mountains. The only route down the mountains was a boundless flight of stairs.
Gu XuanYan tugged on Zhong Yan, his tone soft, “Senior Brother, I’ll carry you.”
Zhong Yan, who was just about to walk down, looked at him with confusion blanketing his face.
After letting out a sigh, Gu XuanYan pointed at Zhong Yan’s shoulder, “It isn’t a good idea to walk down a steep staircase while wounded.”
Only then did Zhong Yan realise what he meant. “I’m wounded on my shoulder, not my legs.” After giving an unconcerned reply, he started heading down.
Still, Gu XuanYan’s grip on his hand didn’t loosen.
The two remained in a stalemate by the gates for quite some time.
Having a full grasp of Gu XuanYan’s personality, Zhong Yan ended up relenting. “I’m really heavy.” The moment his helpless warning was out of his mouth, he pounced hard onto Gu XuanYan’s back.
The unflinching Gu XuanYan piggybacked Zhong Yan, his tone helpless, “Senior Brother, take it slow. Be careful of your wound.”
Zhong Yan feigned as though he didn’t catch what he said and placed his hands on Gu XuanYan’s shoulders while watching him walking step by step down the stairs.
Beside the stone stairs was a forest of maple trees, which blanketed the stairs with leaves. A majority of them retained their lushness, painting the view of the mountains into a magnificent sea of red reminiscent of a sunset. The autumn breeze sweeping by rustled the red maple leaves.
The two’s robes fluttered lightly in the mountain wind, which brought about a slight chill. As Gu XuanYan’s back was warm, Zhong Yan didn’t feel cold at all. After lying flat on Gu XuanYan’s back, he began to count the number of stairs out of boredom.
Due to Gu XuanYan’s strong cultivation base, piggybacking a person down the mountain wasn’t much of a labor to him. Still, he took his time walking on purpose to avoid bumping into Zhong Yan’s wound. By the time the two reached the foot of the mountain, it was already nightfall.
As Zhong Yan jumped down Gu XuanYan back impatiently right away, he bumped onto his wounds accidentally, eliciting a groan out of him.
Brows furrowed, Gu XuanYan lowered his head to check on Zhong Yan’s shoulder while asking, “What happened, Senior Brother?”
Due to Gu XuanYan moving nearer to Zhong Yan, the gap between them narrowed all of a sudden. Somehow, Zhong Yan found their proximity a little too close for comfort, so he took a hurried step back, “Nothing.”
He tossed a look at Gu XuanYan. Instead of stepping away, Gu XuanYan lifted his gaze as well, peering right into Zhong Yan’s eyes. Twilight drenched the two in its colors. Zhong Yan had no idea why but strangely, an out of topic sentence escaped his lips. “Turns out there are three thousand and three hundred steps total for the Green Summit’s stairs.”
Gu XuanYan froze momentarily, seemingly not expecting that from him, before laughing, “Is that so? I’ve never counted them.”
Finally coming back to his senses, Zhong Yan wished he could just plunge his head straight down onto the ground. Am I an idiot?! Why did I say that?! How lame am I?!
Still, he put up a superficial front, letting out a cough before changing the subject nonchalantly, “The sky is getting dark. Let’s go on and find somewhere to stay overnight.”
Gu XuanYan finally withdrew himself as well, his tone gentle, “There is a small town nearby. Let’s head there and rest in an inn.”
Thus, the two strolled along. Awkwardness still plagued Zhong Yan during their stroll. Although he chalked it up to him being dumb, his mind still unconsciously floated back to the flight of long, steep, stony stairs.
There were a total of three thousand and three hundred Green Summit steps, every one of them treaded on by Gu XuanYan while piggybacking him.