Translated by Rikko of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
When Zhong Yan woke up the next morning and realized Gu XuanYan wasn’t by his side, he hurriedly scanned the surroundings. Seeing Gu XuanYan’ s indistinct silhouette behind the partition, Zhong Yan let out a sigh of relief before getting out of bed to dress.
Gu XuanYan was currently brushing his teeth and washing his face. As he noticed Zhong Yan strolling out, he poured him a cup of salted water to rinse his mouth and handed over a folded handkerchief. “Senior Brother, here. Wipe your face.”
Zhong Yan wiped his face obediently while sighing emotionally to the system. [Hah… Gu XuanYan really looks like a gentleman.]
Witnessing Zhong Yan almost being strangled to death by that ‘gentleman’ last night, the system went speechless. Forget it; fortune favors fools.
After both of them had their breakfast, a bell rang out nearby, signaling the ceremony was about to begin.
Through talent and hard work, martial art cultivators elevated bit by bit and rose their ranks. Spiritual and demonic cultivators who walked the right path cultivated by training, while the rest advanced by murdering cultivators and stealing their cultivation bases. Although Buddhist cultivators trained regularly, advancement relied more on a moment of enlightenment. Some couldn’t achieve enlightenment even after years of training but might ascend to a Buddha on the spot. After training for a hundred and twelve years, Sage ShiYin finally had a moment of enlightenment and was elevated to the lotus throne.
The ceremony was held outside LuoHan Hall. Sage ShiYin sat in the middle of the lotus throne, meditating. Meanwhile, under the lotus throne were a thousand and eighty chanting monks. Their chants were just like a large bell, solemn, dignified, and serene. All congratulatory cultivators sat down to attend the ceremony.
The ceremony lasted the whole day, so most cultivators had to stay for another night. Zhong Yan and Gu XuanYan sat next to each other as they listened to the chants. In contrast to Gu XuanYan, who appeared serious, Zhong Yan had his mind rowing off elsewhere, debating if he could still use the same excuse to share a bed with Gu XuanYan this night.
As the ceremony ended, everyone dispersed. Both of them were heading towards their lodgings when someone behind them called out, “So the one in front of me is Green Summit’s Gu XuanYan?”
Although the voice wasn’t loud, it brimmed with mockery. Passerbys, including Zhong Yan and Gu XuanYan, turned towards it, just to see a scrawny guy around his thirties clad in black robes with a red mark in the middle of his eyebrows. He was looking right at the two.
Gu XuanYan gave him a nod. “Is there anything I can help you with?”
The guy had a hint of a smile on his pale white face with a contrastingly bright spark in his eyes 1 “Of course not; I dare not to. Hearing that Green Summit’s Gu XuanYan is intelligent and talented despite being young, this demonic cultivator, Zhu Ping, has come forth to ask for a match with you.” 2
Gu XuanYan let out a light chuckle. “Thank you for the praise, senior. However, it might not be convenient to do so today.”
While bowing down, Zhu Ping sneered, “May I ask for the reason? Might you, perchance, be afraid?”
Zhong Yan couldn’t help interrupting, “It’s because there is a ceremony being held today. Are you here to congratulate or to put others in a tight spot?”
His remark had everyone in stitches. Feeling a little insulted, Zhu Ping shot a swift glance to the left.
Following his line of sight, Zhong Yan noticed Chun Qin standing far away in the crowd, as though it had nothing to do with him. Yet, he exuded an air of expectance and confidence.
An inkling that something was going on crept into Zhong Yan’s mind. However, before he could work out the full picture, Zhu Ping struck him with his palm while exploding in a mix of fury and embarrassment, “I’m talking to that Gu guy. Who are you to interrupt?!”
The lightning speed of the attack caught Zhong Yan off guard. He instinctively took a few steps back, but his opponent was already in front of him. Oh shit, I’m so dead!!
At that very moment, a sword was shoved in front of Zhong Yan’s chest, shielding him from Zhu Ping’s palm strike! Although sheathed, the sword shook violently, its vibration even making Zhu Ping back off. Zhong Yan swiveled his head, his eyes landing on the displeased Gu XuanYan, whose voice was chilly. “If that’s the case, please allow me to spar with you.” 3
The second Gu XuanYan ended his reply, he unsheathed his sword and charged towards Zhu Ping’s Gate of Vitality! 4
The speed of the sword was so swift, the onlookers could only catch sight of the sword’s glow. However, Zhu Ping detected a strong killing intent from the strike. Startled, he took a hasty step to the left. Gu XuanYan sneered before plunging his sword towards his opponent’s neck!
The sword was enveloped with a menacing aura. At the end of his rope, Zhu Ping gnashed his teeth and launched a palm strike toward Gu XuanYan’s chest, trying to drive away from him so that he could catch his breath. Surprisingly, Gu XuanYan didn’t even step back. He received the blow squarely before piercing Zhu Ping’s left shoulder!
With that, the match’s outcome was evident.
Gu XuanYan’s voice was empty of emotion as he sheathed his sword. “Forgive my imprudence.”
Since Zhu Ping was the one who started the fight, he could say nothing more about his loss. Pathetically injured, he covered his wound while others helped him back to a room. Zhong Yan dashed towards Gu XuanYan, examining him from head to toe. “Are you alright?” Relief washed over Zhong Yan as he saw Gu XuanYan shaking his head, indicating he was fine. “I’ll help you over to the room.”
However, Gu XuanYan had other plans in mind. “Senior Brother, please wait here for a moment. I’m going to bid farewell to the host. We will be going back to Green Summit tonight.”
Zhong Yan froze. “Right now?”
Gu XuanYan explained softly, “After all, the ceremony has ended. Since Senior Brother did not spot Master’s murderer here, there is no need to stay. We were brought into the limelight today, so it might not be wise to stick around.”
Zhong Yan went speechless. He was just too used to Gu XuanYan’s phenomenal acting. Besides, the fight might have been instigated by Chun Qin. Although his goal was to stop Gu XuanYan from killing Chun Qin, he did not want Gu XuanYan to die either. Thus, he nodded. “Alright then.”
The two said their goodbyes to everyone in Buddhist Hall. Zhong Yan only dropped in on Liang Zheng after being granted permission from Gu XuanYan. Lament was written all over Liang Zheng’s face as he urged Zhong Yan to pay him a visit at Mount Jade Dwelling in the future. After a round of farewells, the sky had darkened. Finally, both of them rode their swords in the direction of Green Summit.
Trailing behind Gu XuanYan, Zhong Yan started a conversation with the system.
[Why did Gu XuanYan decide to leave? Does he think he’s unable to strike with me constantly following him around?]
[In that case, is my goal complete?]
[I’m just a little scared at how things are going so smoothly. He won’t just take his anger out on me because he can’t get revenge, right?]
A spark of fury lit up in Zhong Yan. [Does your organization accept complaints? I feel you are brushing your host off!]
Before the system could even respond, Gu XuanYan swayed out of the blue and fell from his sword!
Shock ran through Zhong Yan’s body as he followed Gu XuanYan down. Fortunately, as Gu XuanYan stabilized his footing with his powers before he reached the ground, he merely stumbled for a bit. Zhong Yan rushed over to support him once he landed. “What’s wrong? What’s wrong?”
Gu XuanYan let out two coughs, his throat was hoarse. “Perhaps the palm strike from the match weakened my powers.”
If that’s so, why do you act like you’re fine? Zhong Yan stammered, “W-w-what should we do then?”
After a glance at Zhong Yan, Gu XuanYan let out a low laugh. “Fear not, Senior Brother. I just need a place to rest for a moment.”
The two landed in a dense forest without a single soul in sight. After surveying the surroundings, Zhong Yan had no choice but to help him over to a tree. “Rest here for a bit.”
Gu XuanYan leaned on the tree, shutting his eyes with a frown and coughing out occasionally. After quite some time, he opened his eyes, his voice apologetic. “Senior Brother, I’m afraid I can’t continue on.”
A desolated jungle under the pitch-black night sky was a perfect place for silencing. Zhong Yan heightened his alertness immediately while asking the system. [He won’t take this chance to off me, right?]
To his surprise, Gu XuanYan continued in a gentle tone, “Please go back without me, Senior Brother.”
He’s so thoughtful! Sorry for misunderstanding you. Zhong Yan almost wept tears of joy. Just as he was about to answer with ‘I’ll be taking my leave then, take care’, the system advised icily, [Stay behind.]
Confusion flooded Zhong Yan’s mind. [Huh? Are you in your right mind?]
The system gave a serious reply, [Trust me. If you stay, there’s an eighty percent chance you will be fine. If you leave, Gu XuanYan will definitely kill you right now.]
Open to the advice, Zhong Yan changed his tune instantly, “Don’t say that, Junior Brother. I won’t abandon you here.”
As expected, not even a hint of surprise was on Gu XuanYan’s face when he heard that. Instead, he lifted the corners of his mouth, pleased, “If that is so, I’m sorry for troubling you to stay here overnight with me. Let’s go back to the Sect when I’m done regulating my breath tomorrow morning.”
Dealing with villains is difficult… I’m so tired.
The system let out a ‘hmph’. [Are you still going to lodge a complaint?]
Knowing to yield when needed, Zhong Yan answered hurriedly. [Nope, not at all. I’ll write a five-hundred-word compliment for you.]
The two took shelter behind a boulder. While Zhong Yan gathered twigs to kindle a fire, Gu XuanYan cast a barrier to ward off wild beasts. Only after that did they somewhat dozed off.pp
Just as Zhong Yan felt himself snoozing for a bit, he heard Gu XuanYan whispering into his ear, “Senior Brother, wake up.”
Zhong Yan forced his eyes open, realizing that the sky had brightened. Beside him was Gu XuanYan, who shockingly had bloodstains on his clothes.
Zhong Yan sat up hurriedly, any bit of sleepiness vanishing into thin air. “What happened?”
Gu XuanYan smiled bitterly. “The palm strike is just too strong. After regulating my breath for the entire night, my condition ended up worsening, and I coughed out blood.” After a pause, he continued, “I have a piece of even worse news, does Senior Brother want to know what it is?”
Zhong Yan went speechless for a moment. “How can you joke at a time like this?!”
Gu XuanYan shrugged his shoulders. “My powers are fluctuating too much and probably can’t maintain the barrier much longer. Something seems to have detected the stench of blood and is tracking us down.”
The second Zhong Yan was about to ask what it was, a sudden, long cry blared out nearby! Following which, the ground started trembling.
Gu XuanYan’s voice was low. “Here it comes.”
Author’s note: If you think Junior Brother didn’t strangle Zhong Yan because his heart got soft, you are too naïve~ He is still in the stage of planning’s Zhong Yan’s death. (Zhong Yan, “Face life with a smile”)
- A bright spark in the eyes is a sign of high levels of inner Qi
- Literal: This demonic cultivator, Zhu Ping, has come forth to ask for guidance. It usually meant asking for a match
- Literal: Please provide guidance to me as well. It’s etiquette to greet like that at the beginning of a match
- The area in the middle of the kidneys. For more info: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kidney_(Chinese_medicine)