Sunday, 14 June 2020

Chapter 32 - Leaving the Mountain

Leaving the Mountain


When Qihao and Zeng Shushu saw Zhang Xiaofan, they would more or less smile or greet, only Lu Xueqi was expressionless but her gaze still brushed past him, unknown emotions flashed past deep inside her eyes and instantly disappeared.


Reverend Daoxuan looked at the four people in the hall, smiled and said, "Today we have asked the four of you here for a matter, is to let you all to leave the mountain to gain experience."


Qihao and the rest were stunned.


Reverend Daoxuan explained to them about the Kongsang Mountain 'Ten thousands Bats Ancient Cave' incident and said, "This is a matter of importance, four of you are our sect elites and so we are sending you to investigate. But the Evil sect is cunning and vicious, all of you have to be careful."


Four of them replied, "Yes."


Reverend Daoxuan nodded, said, "In addition, other than our sect, Fenxiang Valley and Tianyin Temple are also sending out their best disciples, do not show poor etiquette but do not also bring down our sect reputation. Other than that, eldest branch Xiao Yicai Xiao senior brother has already gone to Kongsang Mountain to investigate, if you manage to find him, discuss the matter with him"


Four of them looked at each other, and acknowledged at the same time.


Reverend Daoxuan looked carefully at the four young disciples and finally on Qihao, waved and said, "Qihao, come over."


Qihao was surprised, walked forward, Reverend Daoxuan assessed him, turned and smiled, said to Cangsong Taoist, "Junior brother, you have a successor for Longshou Valley!"


Cangsong Taoist had been black-faced all these while, finally revealed a smile, said, "Senior brother is too kind."


Reverend Daoxuan took out something from his bosom, passed to Qihao, "Receive it."


Qihao took it and looked, it was a small mirror, had an odd shape and bronze engraving around it, above dragon engraving, below tiger, the mirror was engraved with the Eight Trigrams, the mirror itself was not like the usual bronze mirror, obscure and yellow.


Qihao had not reacted but Cangsong Taoist was already overjoyed, shouted, "Silly boy, what are you staring at, quickly kneel and give thanks."


Qihao immediately realized that this insignificant looking thing in his hands was most likely the treasure, 'Six directions mirror', quickly knelt and said, "Many thanks sect head teacher uncle."


Reverend Daoxuan smiled and said, "No need, no need, you can get up." and spoke to the rest, "All of you leave first."


The rest knew he would be passing Qihao the secret formula for the Six directions Mirror and so retreated out together.


Walking outside the hall, Zhang Xiaofan and Tian Buyi walked aside, Tian Buyi glanced at him, indifferently said, "You are now holding a heavy responsibility, don't return to Big Bamboo Valley and in a while leave with the other three, I will let the others at Big Bamboo Valley know."


Zhang Xiaofan was surprised and lowered his head, spoke softly, "Yes, teacher."


Tian Buyi said, "While you are recuperating during this past month, I heard that your teacher's wife has taught you some skills to wield the sword and Taoism secret formulas, have you all remembered it?"


Zhang Xiaofan nodded and said, "Yes, disciple has remembered it all."


Tian Buyi turned around and spoke unhurriedly, "Then it is good, although your aptitude is low but you still belong to our Big Bamboo Valley, don't make me lose face."


Zhang Xiaofan immediately replied, "Yes, teacher, disciple will never make teacher lose face."


Tian Buyi snorted, back facing him, Zhang Xiaofan was unable to see his expression but hearing his tone, he did not seem angry. After a long time, Tian Buyi let out a sigh, turned and looked at Zhang Xiaofan, did not speak, waved, considered a gesture, wielded his sword up and left.


Zhang Xiaofan stared blankly at his teacher's image which had transformed into a red ray and disappeared into the horizon. Until someone tapped on his shoulder, he startled and turned around, it was Zeng Shushu who was smiling happily. He looked around and noticed the other branch leaders had all left, leaving the two of them and Lu Xueqi who was standing alone at a distance.


Zeng Shushu smiled and said, "You are really lucky this time, I was still worried you wouldn't be able to make it through this time!"


Zhang Xiaofan with him, immediately felt himself loosening up, smiled and said, "Yes, I was also terrified to death."


Zeng Shushu patted him on his shoulder, peered around and asked quietly, "Why didn't you bring Xiao Hui?"


Zhang Xiaofan made a bitter face, said, "I was brought over by teacher in the early morning, didn't expect to be leaving the mountain immediately, I didn't bring anything, how would I think of Xiao Hui?"


Zeng Shushu smiled and said, "It's alright, clothes I can lend you, if not we can go to Heyang City to buy too when we go down the mountain." After speaking, he blinked at Zhang Xiaofan, whispered, "Hehe, anyway this time we gain an advantage."


Zhang Xiaofan didn't understand, said, "What?"


Zeng Shushu raised his brows, swept his glance back, hehe sneaked a laugh and said, "We have a beautiful woman with us on this trip!"


Zhang Xiaofan felt mad and funny at the same time but also glanced towards Lu Xueqi. At the same time, Lu Xueqi seemed to sense it and also looked over, both of their gazes met from far, Zhang Xiaofan felt a chill from her gaze, got a shock and quickly shifted his eyes.


Both of them chatted for a while, Zeng Shushu was about to whisper to him on what he intended to do after they started their travels with Lu Xueqi and suddenly realized Zhang Xiaofan's smile was frozen, his eyes also staring straight, staring behind him.


Zeng Shushu was bewildered, turned and looked, saw at the bottom of the long stairs, a man was walking up swaying left and right. About forty plus, his clothes looked rather clean but his face looked lost, his eyes dull, his mouth muttering incoherent words:


"It's raining, the sky is dark...smelly...mother ah...celestial beings, celestial beings, hehe, celestial beings ah..."


Before their eyes, Zhang Xiaofan walked over, he walked very slowly very slowly, as if after a long time, he then finally reached that man.


Like, walking back to the past!


"Wang Ershu, are you still doing well?" He struggled to contain his emotions, quietly said.


That man did not seem to register Zhang Xiaofan, his mouth was still muttering, leaving Zhang Xiaofan and walking off, not long after he disappeared behind the hall.


“Who is he?" Zeng Shushu walked to him and asked.


Zhang Xiaofan gazed at where Wang Ershu had disappeared, said bleakly, "A madman!"


Zeng Shushu looked at him, did not ask anymore. After a while, Qihao came out beaming from the Crystal Hall, waved to the three of them.


Zhang Xiaofan absently walked over with Zeng Shushu, after the few of them discussed (Zhang Xiaofan was preoccupied and quiet), they decided to first head for Heyang City.


Zeng Shushu smiled and said to Qihao, "Qi senior brother, sect head teacher uncle handed the 'Six Directions Mirror' to you, is it powerful?"


Qihao laughed and said, "Six Directions Mirror is our Qing Yun sect's treasure, naturally it is, I am only afraid that my cultivation is not enough! Hehe, alright, this is the summit, other than the seven branch leaders the rest of the disciples are unable to fly, let's go down to the Sea of Clouds, from there we will fly to Heyang City."


Lu Xueqi was expressionless, Zhang Xiaofan nodded his head absent-mindedly, only Zeng Shushu was smiling broadly, seemed like this trip down was a good thing for someone like him who liked to have fun.


From Qing Yun sect to Heyang City, on the way there, Qing Yun sect most 'outstanding' four disciples wielded their swords and flew over, the others looked comfortable, only Zhang Xiaofan looked strained.


After recuperating for a month, Suru seemed to expect that he would be fine and taught him some secret formulas of Qing Yun sect and also at the same time, the skills to wield the sword for flight. Actually it was an easy task, as long as the person's cultivation was enough and the weapon not too lousy, with Qing Yun skills as the willpower would be sufficient. However, Zhang Xiaofan's cultivation was still weak, the weapon naturally not lousy but odd, he was also rather new to Qing Yun sect skills and so felt a lot to handle when he started to use the new skill.


Initially Suru also did not expect he would be leaving the mountain after going to Tongtian Peak, intended to first let him remember the formulas and to let him practise more when he returned. The other branch leaders naturally would not know this strange fellow's cultivation, watching him at the contest they would assume he would know the most basic sword wielding skill for flight and would not know that he secretly learnt the Taoism skills and by obscure luck tumbled into the 'Wield Object' realm, and yet did not know how to use it for flight.


Watching as others wielded their swords, Qihao's white 'Icy Cold' celestial sword, Lu Xueqi's blue 'Tianya' sword, Zeng Shushu was a light purple celestial sword - 'Xuanyuan'. Zhang Xiaofan feeling nervous, struggled to wield the firestick but somehow felt it weaker, did not have the reaction to his hand as compared to the fight in the competition.


After traversing through the mountain and clouds, this was originally a half day route but they only reached Heyang City at sunset. They landed at a secluded area outside the city to be inconspicuous, by then Zhang Xiaofan's was already drenched in sweat, his face pale and seemed like this was more difficult than the competitions.


During the journey, there were a few times he almost couldn't control the firestick, if it was not for Qihao and the rest who noticed something amissed, maintained a near distance to him and at time assisted him, most likely this newly attained 'outstanding disciple' would have drop from the sky and have his body smashed to pieces, before he could gain glory for his sect he would have left his name to stink for eternity, shaming Qing Yun sect entirely.


Qihao and the rest decided to stop outside the city and travel in by foot, although the intention was to be inconspicuous but they were also worried while under the stares of the city people, Zhang Xiaofan accidentally fell off, Qing Yun sect for two thousand years of hard work to build up their awe and reputation would be destroyed alas!


After a quick rest, Zhang Xiaofan seemed to recover, the four of them headed to the city. Zhang Xiaofan was the last, felt Qihao and Lu Xueqi's suspicious stares at times, clearly they could not understand why someone who shone at the competition could not even fly well with his sword. As for Zeng Shushu, he was still smiling and chatting happily with Zhang Xiaofan, didn't bring up the flight issue and continued to introduce Zhang Xiaofan to the city:


"Within a hundred miles, this is the biggest and the most prosperous place. The commoners who live here, there will be at least twenty to thirty thousands of them, and the location is good too, there are many business travellers, even more bustling..."


Zhang Xiaofan listened, his heart feeling admiration for Zeng Shushu, said, "Shushu, how do you know everything?"


Zeng Shushu looked conceited, said, "This is nothing, read more books and naturally will know more." After speaking he revealed a cunning smile, secretly whispered to Zhang Xiaofan's ear, "Actually I have been here a few times, all secretly."


Zhang Xiaofan was shocked, said, "You, you..."


Zeng Shushu pursed his lips, said, "Look at how scared you are! This is nothing, ever since I learnt to wield the sword, naturally I have to practise it and as I flew around, I came here and feeling tired, there was nothing wrong to descend and walk around!"


Zhang Xiaofan was speechless.


Hearing them chatting away at the back, Qihao smiled and said to Lu Xueqi, "Lu junior sister, the sky is getting dark, let's spend the night here and continue tomorrow."


Lu Xueqi's face as cold as frost, without any expression, nodded.


Entering the city, in order to avoid trouble, they had changed out of their disciples' uniforms and so did not attract any suspicions. But Lu Xueqi's beauty instead attracted quite a stir and caused many of the passersby to pause and stare. Zhang Xiaofan glanced at Lu Xueqi, saw her face although was expressionless, her eyes had a flash of anger. He couldn't help but be worried for those passerbys, in case if Tianya came out, this ancient city would be at least destroyed by half first.


But Lu Xueqi's upbringing was clearly much better than what Zhang Xiaofan had thought, until they had entered an inn called 'Mountain Sea Garden', Lu Xueqi did not take any action. Qihao was the most experienced among them, the four of them took him as lead and like this lodging logistic he was also the one to settle it, the rest of them were arranged by the innkeeper to the luxury rear garden.


The inn was rather spacious, there were four separate gardens at the rear, the four of them were staying at the west and each one had their own room. After resting for a while, Qihao called them out and headed to the front for dinner.


The inn had its own restaurant, located on Heyang City's busiest big street but at the third level of the guest hall, it was quiet, the big hall had only at most ten tables and right now only about five tables were taken. Qihao called the waiter and ordered a few dishes, he seemed very familiar with the place and most likely was a regular.


Zhang Xiaofan thought, he came from a farmer's family, had never came to such a luxurious place like this, when he passed by the second level he saw that the big hall was beautiful and imposing but at the third level it was adored with dragons and phoenixes, red wood beams and an air of antiquity, completely different from the second level. He naturally would not know that when commoners come to a rich area, they would seek status and rank, even though some would like lustre and extravagant, but some would prefer to be seen as cultured.


The four of them sat at a small table beside the window, Zeng Shushu glanced at the decor and said to Qihao, "Qi senior brother, the prices here are not cheap right?"


Qihao smiled and said, "This is the best restaurant in Heyang City, of course it would not be cheap but our Qing Yun sect is well-known here, their boss can't wait for us to come here, they won't charge us much."


Zeng Shushu with an "ah", nodded and agreed. After a while, the waiter brought small dishes up and the final dish was a fresh stewed fish. The fish was rather long, the upper part round and the lower rather narrow, its body a dark brown with two sets of feelers, thick. The most important was the meat was white and soft, flavourful, making everyone tucked in immediately.    


Zhang Xiaofan had always been interested in cooking and had never seen this fish before, couldn't help but asked the waiter, "Waiter brother, what is the name of this fish and how is it cooked?"


The waiter laughed and said, "Customer you have good taste, this is 'Stewed Mei Fish', it is our Mountain Sea Garden's speciality, fragrant and smooth, sweetness in the mouth, within Heyang City hundred miles, it is very famous..."


Zhang Xiaofan swallowed his saliva, picked up his chopsticks and placed a piece into his mouth, immediately he closed his eyes and nodded, "Ah, the meat texture is really good but the method of cooking is even better, the sweetness part is because of some sugar, added ginger slices to remove the fishy smell, eh, there is fragrance of quick-fry onions, it must be fresh young onions, ah, the rarity is to put pepper, five spices, e...right, there is also sesame oil taste which matches so right, amazing, amazing!"


His look of satisfaction made Qihao, Zeng Shushu stared in surprise, even Lu Xueqi was also looking at him, her face a strange expression, the waiter standing beside was extremely impressed, praised him loudly, "Customer is really an expert, know the goods!"


Zhang Xiaofan then realized the rest of their looks, his face turned red, quickly placed the chopsticks down but continued to ask, "Will like to ask, where do this Mei fish come from?"


Before the waiter could speak, a lady sitting beside was heard saying, "This Mei fish is south Zhugou Mountain[1] speciality, about thousand miles far from here, how can it be transported here, isn't your restaurant cheating customers?"


Everyone was shocked, looked over, saw over that big table, there were about eight people, six men wearing yellow clothes and there were two ladies, one was wearing light purple long dress, her face covered with a veil, unable to see her face clearly but the parts of her skin which was exposed was snow-white; the other lady was the one who had spoken, looked about sixteen to seventeen years old, wearing green, her face graceful, her brows thin and fair skin, a pair of big bright eyes, a sight before others and could be comparable to Lu Xueqi.


Zhang Xiaofan with a [ah], noticed after that lady finished, she looked over at Lu Xueqi, she seemed to be taken aback by Lu Xueqi's looks. Women loved being beautiful, even Lu Xueqi who had always been cold and aloof, couldn't help but also took a few glances at this lady.


The waiter apologetically laughed and said, "This customer is right but you didn't know, hundred years ago, this Mei fish truly only belonged to south Zhuguo Mountain but after Qing Yun sect Reverend Daoxuan passed by the mountain, he purposely moved this Mei fish over and placed it at Qing Yun Hill northern shady Hong river, until today it not only survived, it multiplied. It is because of Qing Yun Hill Reverend Daoxuan's blessing that we can have this gourmet's luck!" After speaking, his face revealed a revered look.


Zhang Xiaofan and the rest heard it, naturally felt happy, all revealing smiles but that lady turned and looked at the veiled lady, sat back and only muttered a snort.


[1] <<Mountain Sea Classics. Fourth volume. Zhuguo Mountain>>: And from south river five hundred miles, it is known as Zhuguo Mountain, no vegetations, mostly sands and stones. It is a mountain, wide and vicinity for hundred miles, many Mei fish.


After finishing the delicious dinner, they walked contentedly back to their lodging areas. At the west garden entrance, Qihao said to them, "We will rest here for tonight, tomorrow morning we will make our way to Kongsang Mountain."


Zhang Xiaofan and Zeng Shushu acknowledged, Lu Xueqi did not speak, walked straight back to her room, [pong] a sound closed the door. Qihao was stunned for a moment, with a wry laugh to the other two, said, "Both junior brothers, better rest early too."


Zhang Xiaofan took a glance at his handsome face, under the sunset, Qihao's bearing was still the same, and seemed to have more celestial air, his heart suddenly felt dejected, forced himself to bade Zeng Shushu and ignoring Qihao, returned to his own room.


Zeng Shushu laughed, said a few words to Qihao and they both also returned to their own rooms.


This night, it was the first time Zhang Xiaofan left Qing Yun Hill after five years, tossing and turning, he did not sleep well. He managed to doze off in the middle of the night and dreamt himself in blood, hideously-looking and standing on top of a mountain of corpses, at the same time deep inside his heart, a turbulent wild rage of murderous intent, as if the red fresh blood in front of him was sweet fountain water, attracting him, seducing him, to obtain all of these through massacre.


"Ah!"


Zhang Xiaofan woke up from his dream, sat up abruptly, panting greatly, his body sweating buckets, after a while, his pounding heart finally slowed down.


He sat dumbfoundedly in the dark for a long time, subconsciously stretched his hand, touched the firestick beside his pillow, a cold feeling enveloped him. This dream was similar to the nightmares he had incessantly dreamt of these past few years, the blood-sucking and massacre scene, made him feel afraid.


The surroundings were silent, everywhere was dark.


He crossed his legs, sat straight, inhaled deeply, closed his eyes and both palms before him.


Darkness was like a gentle lady, softly surrounded his body, a faint golden light emitted out from his body. Reflecting from that faint glow, his face seemed to also have a dignified layer he should not be having.


Not knowing how long had passed, the golden light gradually faded, he opened his eyes, his heart calm. Everytime at this moment, he would miss that kind Puzhi Monk greatly.


He did not feel sleepy anymore, walked to the door and opened. The other rooms were in darkness, most likely Qihao and the rest were still sleeping. The rear garden was built within a flower garden, the four directions had four sets of courtyards. Zhang Xiaofan walked out of his west garden and came to the centre.


This was already late night, looking at the sky, stars filled it, a round moon hung in the horizon. The night breeze blew gently, carrying a faint of fragrance. The small path twisted and turned, not knowing where it would lead to. Beside the path, green grass and shrubs, different colours of flowers bloomed.


Zhang Xiaofan feeling lost, followed the path down, the wind brushed past his face, a cooling feeling.


On this quiet night, a youth, walking alone in the flower garden, reminiscing about the past.


Beside the road, a small flower gently swayed in the breeze, sparkling dews on its petals, beautifully wrought, Zhang Xiaofan stopped his steps, unknowingly lost in his thoughts while staring.


Faint fragrance, drifted over.


Suddenly a jade-like hand, as if stretching out from the eternal darkness, carrying with it a quiet beauty, reflecting the moonlight, reached onto this flower.


And plucked it!


[Zeng] a sound went off in Zhang Xiaofan's head, as if the sky full of moonlight had lost its brilliance, the entire garden fell into darkness.


He turned around, looked over with a slight unknown hatred. 


A young lady in green, stood there, as if sucking in all of the brilliance in the sky, gently placed the flower before her nose, inhaled deeply.


5 comments:

  1. Thank you for the chapter :-)

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  2. Hey..Bro.. Waiting for Zhu Xian 2 ...please please Start as soon as possible..Thank you...

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  3. Been over a year. Hope everything is okay. Thanks for all the work and even retranslating the first 32 of 68 chapters for story coherency.

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