unsheathed – Chapter 67 (1): Long Journey

Chapter 67 (1): Long Journey

Chapter 67 (1): Long Journey

During the few days prior to the moment Qi Jingchun set down that pair of chopsticks, some ominous signs had begun appearing in the town. The water level in the Iron Lock Well had been falling rapidly, while the leaves and branches of the old locust tree had all become yellow and withered, something that clearly shouldn't have been happening at this time of year.

Furthermore, there were also frequent flurries of cracks and pops that resembled the sound of firecrackers ringing out in the middle of the night outside the town, where many clay and wooden deity statues were situated.

Some curious individuals had gone out to investigate the source of the sounds, only to discover that most of the clay Bodhisattva and wooden deity statues near the town, artifacts that had definitely still been there the previous winter, had gone missing.

There had also been a constant procession of ox-drawn carriages and horse-drawn carriages traveling along Fortune Street and Peach Leaf Alley, and even in the dead of night, one would still be able to hear the sound of clopping hooves ringing out on the bluestone street outside.

The regal and well-dressed outsiders were also beginning to leave the town in a hurry, with most of them wearing displeased expressions, and they were often sighted pointing in the direction of the school in the town with disgruntled looks on their faces.

The gatekeeper of the eastern town gate, Zheng Dafeng, had seemingly vanished into thin air, yet no attempts were made to find a replacement for him. Hence, the town had become akin to a person missing their front teeth, with people coming and going as they pleased.

Liu Baqiao and Chen Songfeng were returning the same way they had come, and by the time they spotted the outlines of the covered bridge in the distance, it was already dusk. Liu Baqiao followed a small path to the bank of the creek, where he crouched down and scooped up some water with his hands before splashing it onto his own face.

That didn't seem to have been sufficiently reinvigorating for him, so he knelt down onto the ground with his rear end pointed up at the heavens and plunged his entire head into the creek, then abruptly threw his head back in exhilaration.

He turned to Chen Songfeng, who was sweating profusely, and jibed, "Are all scholars as weak and frail as you?"

Chen Songfeng was far more restrained, only cupping some water from the creek with his hands to drink, then replied in a slightly raspy voice, "I only became a Qi refiner in the first place in order to improve my physical constitution so I can live a few more years and read a few more books, I certainly can't compare with a swordsman like yourself.

Besides, here in this small world, Qi refiners are handicapped more than anyone else aside from swordsmen. If I have even a slight lapse in concentration and accidentally activate my aura, then my cultivation base will be damaged, and the more advanced the Qi refiner, the more damage they would sustain to their cultivation base. Who would've thought that my lowly cultivation base would turn out to be a blessing rather than a curse?"

Liu Baqiao patted Chen Songfeng on the shoulder and suggested, "How about you join our Wind Lightning Field and become a swordsman? I'll make sure to look out for you. Think about it, if you become a swordsman, you'll be able to soar through the heavens atop a flying sword. Especially during lightning storms..."

Chen Songfeng suddenly smiled as he interjected, "I heard that the name of the Wind Lightning Field swordsman who's been struck by lightning the most number of times is Liu..."

"I'm gonna get you to stop right there!" Liu Baqiao hurriedly interrupted as he raised a hand.

Cultivating in the way of the sword was a branch of Qi refinement, except compared with normal Qi refiners, the physical constitution of swordsmen was closer to that of pure martial artists. To put it in simpler terms, swordsmen pursued cultivation of both the body and the spirit, while other Qi refiners placed no special emphasis on physical cultivation, as long as their physical constitution wasn't hindering their cultivation.

Of course, Qi refiners also refined their bodies through their cultivation, but it was a much more subtle and constant process, much like dripping water hollowing out a stone. However, compared with swordsmen, the physical cultivation of Qi refiners was far less intense and frequent, and they certainly weren't entirely fixated on physical cultivation like martial artists were.ewW ovels updtes on nov/l/b(i)(.)com

For all of the Qi refiners in the world, there was a common consensus, which was that the body was only a vessel, and it only had to be serviceable. If one were lucky enough to attain an indestructible vajra body or a spotless glazed body, then that would naturally be ideal, but it certainly wasn't worth compromising one's fundamental pursuit of the Great Dao just to advance one's physical constitution.

"By the way, what Tier martial artist is that distant relative of yours?" Liu Baqiao casually asked.

"How am I supposed to know a secret like that?" Chen Songfeng countered with an exasperated expression.

Thinking back to the conflict that had taken place in the kiln supervision office, Liu Baqiao sighed, "Song Changjing really is incredibly powerful. What makes him even more terrifying is just how young he is! Generally speaking, all martial artists at the Eighth or Ninth Tiers have to be upward of 50 to 60 years of age. In fact, even those who only reach that level at 100 years of age aren't considered to be slow, but if I recall correctly, Song Changjing isn't even 40 yet. No wonder that man once remarked that Song Changjing needs to 'be put in his place'."

"Those who are born from the will of the world are blessed by the heavens," Chen Songfeng remarked.

Cultivators of the Upper Five Tiers were exceedingly rare, but martial artists of the Eighth or Ninth Tiers were often extremely well-known and closely related to the various mortal empires. On the path of martial arts cultivation, one could only progress through a series of battle of life and death.

Only those who had witnessed life and death were able to transcend those concepts, attaining a transcendent state of mind, much like the state of nirvana in Buddhism or the state of tranquility in Daoism.

Aside from sparring matches between master martial artists, the favorite pastime of martial artists of the Eighth and Ninth Tiers was to pick on the top Qi refiners in the Middle Five Tiers. In particular, for someone like Song Changjing, who reigned supreme in the Ninth Tier, he was virtually invincible beneath the Upper Five Tiers.

Among Qi refiners, only swordsmen would be able to put up a fight against him, but even they could only strive to not suffer too crushing a defeat. Essentially, their defeat was sealed, and all they could do was to try and avoid embarrassment as much as possible.

There was an underlying reason why martial artists of the Ninth Tier could be so brazen and unscrupulous, which was that the 10th Tier cultivators at the very pinnacle of the Middle Five Tiers no longer involved themselves in any worldly conflicts. In fact, they were so devoted and single-minded in their pursuit of the Great Dao that they didn't even care whether their clans or empires fell into ruin.

Liu Baqiao was still lost in his own thoughts as he murmured in an absentminded manner, "Song Changjing wants me to go to the Great Li Empire after I leave this town to take the talismanic sword. Should I inform everyone at Wind Lightning Field in advance so they can prepare a celebratory banquet for me?"

Chen Songfeng couldn't help but be both amused and exasperated as he listened to Liu Baqiao's errant ramblings. He looked down at the flowing water of the creek, which didn't even reach his knees, and he thought of Song Changjing and the handsome young boy accompanying him.

He could sense an unstoppable tide taking shape, and he decided there and then that upon returning to Dragon Tail County, he had to convince his clan to throw its support behind the Great Li Empire. Even if he couldn't convince the clan to place all of its eggs in one basket, he had to encourage the clan's members to integrate themselves into the Great Li Empire as early as possible.

"Heaven and earth are working in unison to support the ascension of the Great Li Empire. Our Chen Clan must get in early and ride atop the head of the dragon, lest we be left behind and forced to compete with others just for a chance to cling onto the dragon's tail," Chen Songfeng murmured to himself.

"What are you mumbling about over there?" Liu Baqiao asked.

Chen Songfeng rose to his feet as he waved a dismissive hand, then smiled as he said, "You seem to have gotten along very well with that boy from Clay Vase Alley."

Liu Baqiao also stood up as he casually replied, "That was nothing more than a fleeting chance encounter. Who knows if I'll ever even see him again?"

The two of them made their way onto the bank of the creek, and Chen Songfeng said, "I heard that the blessed land in Southern Stream Nation is about to be opened to the outside this winter, and several dozen people are permitted to enter. Aren't you still struggling to overcome your current cultivation bottleneck? Are you planning to go and try your luck there?"

A cold sneer appeared on Liu Baqiao's face as he replied, "Absolutely not! It would be far too shameful for me to stoop down to such a lowly place."

Chen Songfeng shook his head as he said, "Back in Dragon Tail County, Master Liu once said to me that that one's state of mind is like a mirror, and the more it's polished, the brighter it'll gleam. Hence, in the cultivation of one's mind, it would naturally be immensely beneficial to sit upon the lotus seat of the Dao Ancestor, but occasionally visiting what is perceived to be a lowly place could have its benefits as well.

Go to the blessed land and abandon your past self. Forget your past existence as an immortal cultivator and embrace life as it is, whether you're blessed by fortune or blighted by hardships..."

Before Chen Songfeng had a chance to finish, Liu Baqiao grumbled, "I'm too competitive. If I go to a blessed land where spiritual energy is too sparse, and I'm unable to break through the restrictions there to return home through my own power, then that'll definitely leave me with a knot in my heart, and the trip would prove to be far more detrimental than beneficial.

If I end up being picked on by the locals during my time in the blessed land, then that'll be one more thing that weighs on my heart. Once my soul is restored, I'll be sure to descend upon the blessed land in my true form in order to exact revenge, even if I have to pay a massive price to do so, but if I do that, it'll go against what I initially set out to do."

Liu Baqiao clasped his hands together behind the back of his head, and a disdainful look appeared on his face as he continued, "Let's not mince our words here. Everyone knows that the three blessed lands of Eastern Treasured Vial Continent are no longer what they once were. They've already become places where the nobility of the empires go to spend money for entertainment. No wonder they're referred to as brothels under the rule of the immortal clans."

Chen Songfeng smiled as he said, "It wouldn't be right to make such sweeping statements. Setting outsiders like us aside, there's no lack of outstanding talents among the locals in those blessed lands."

Liu Baqiao rolled his eyes in response. "How many people can come out of each blessed land a year on average? Probably not even one. Among the ones who have successfully made it out, how many of them are still remembered 100 years later? I can probably count all of them on one hand.

That's why I don't understand why everyone lauds these blessed lands as such great places. There are even some who proclaim that having part rulership rights over a blessed land is no less of an asset than having a cultivator of the Upper Five Tiers. That's downright insane!"

Chen Songfeng smiled as he said, "Blessed lands can yield benefits over long periods of time, as well as the occasional surprise. Most importantly, these are passive benefits that come without any work, who wouldn't want to get in on something like that?"

Those who came from immortal clans generally already had a path to success paved for them, while those who ascended from blessed lands were often forced to endure much hardship and adversity.

"You don't seem to like that boy from Clay Vase Alley very much," Liu Baqiao remarked.

Chen Songfeng took a moment to consider his response, then revealed in a candid manner, "Personally, I have nothing against him, but objectively speaking, his very existence places our entire clan in a very awkward situation. The branch of the Chen Clan in Jewel Small World has always been a laughingstock for the entire continent.

In this town, it's considered quite normal for a clan to only have one member left, while the rest of the people of the same surname have all become servants for other clans. While it's true that our branch of the Chen Clan in Dragon Tail County shares a common ancestor with the branch of the Chen Clan in this town, that's already an extremely distant piece of history, and practically speaking, the two branches may as well be different clans altogether.

However, the enemies of our Chen Clan don't see it that way. If that boy from Clay Vase Alley had managed to establish an affluent clan of his own, then there wouldn't be any problems. Perhaps those on the outside will ridicule our Chen Clan for a while, but they'll eventually forget all about it.

However, that boy continues to cling to life, despite the fact that he's all on his own, and in doing so, he's drawing a great deal of interest from others. There are even people on the outside making bets on when he'll no longer be the only member of the Chen Clan branch in this town."

Liu Baqiao's brows furrowed slightly as he countered, "But that's not his fault."

Chen Songfeng smiled in response. "Of course, he's not at fault in the slightest, but it's very difficult to make some people see reason."

Liu Baqiao shook his head as he said, "It's not difficult to make people see reason, the problem is that you're being completely unreasonable to begin with. It's only because that boy is weak and vulnerable that you feel justified in condemning him. On top of that, the branch of your Chen Clan in Dragon Tail County is certainly far more powerful than a lonesome boy, but at the same time, you're very mediocre compared with those having a laugh at your expense.

You're being made into a laughingstock, but you don't have the power to retaliate, and instead of admitting your own shortcomings, you choose to pin the blame entirely on that boy, insisting that he should be made into the scapegoat.

I'll bet that if it wasn't for the rules prohibiting the killing of local residents of Jewel Small World, someone from your branch of the Chen Clan would've already killed off that young boy in secret, for no reason other than to save face."

Chen Songfeng's face quickly became flushed with embarrassment, but he had no sound counterargument to raise.

Liu Baqiao's hands were still clasped behind his head as he looked up at the sky in a lackadaisical manner and said, "I know that you're not that type of person, but unfortunately, people like you are part of the minority. Let me give an example here related to myself.

That Mountain-moving Ape from Sun Scorch Mountain wasn't able to secure the sword scripture, and he was afraid that our Wind Lightning Field would obtain it, so he killed that boy with the Liu surname. Do you think what he did was reasonable? I think it's extremely unreasonable, but so what? What I think doesn't matter because I don't even have the courage to provoke the old ape to his face."

Liu Baqiao sighed as he removed a hand from the back of his head, then patted his own belly as he mused in a self-deprecating voice, "I'm not good with words, my fists aren't hard enough, and my swords aren't sharp enough. Otherwise, there are many people in this world that I'd like to talk some sense into."

Chen Songfeng exhaled, then asked, "So I take it you have quite a high opinion of that boy?"

Liu Baqiao turned to look at the sun setting over the mountain in the west, then replied, "I'd go even further than that."

Chen Songfeng was rather perplexed to hear this.

Liu Baqiao smiled as he elaborated, "I get a sense of inferiority whenever I see him."

Chen Songfeng was quite bewildered by this response, and he shook his head as he chuckled, "Why do you feel so strongly about him?"

Chapter end

Chapter 31: Beating Around the Mountain
Chapter 32: Peach Leaf
Chapter 33: White Dragon Disguising as a Fish
Chapter 34: Gathered Together
Chapter 35: Licorice Root
Chapter 36: Ancient Book
Chapter 37: Fist Technique
Chapter 38: Ninth Tier
Chapter 39: Cursing the Locust Tree
Chapter 40: Returning the Courtesy
Chapter 42: Prodigy
Chapter 43: The Young Boy and the Old Dog
Chapter 44: Coming to Light
Chapter 45: Sunlight
Chapter 46: Skirt Dagger
Chapter 47: Going Alone
Chapter 48: The Hunter and the Hunted
Chapter 49: Porcelain Shard
Chapter 50 (1): One Who is Destined for Great Things
Chapter 50 (2): One Who is Destined for Great Things
Chapter 51: Confrontation
Chapter 52: Shudder
Chapter 53: Gift
Chapter 54: Facing the Enemy
Chapter 55: Feeling Proud in the Spring Breeze
Chapter 56: Nodding Bodhisattva
Chapter 57: Sword Nurturing Gourd
Chapter 58: Teacher
Chapter 59: Sleep
Chapter 60: There's a Ghost
Chapter 61: Helpless Pawn
Chapter 62: Falling Tree
Chapter 63 (1): So That's How It Is
Chapter 63 (2): So That's How It Is
Chapter 64: The Three Chens
Chapter 65: Jewel
Chapter 66: Looking Up
Chapter 67 (1): Long Journey
Chapter 67 (2): Long Journey
Chapter 68: Spring Under the Heavens
Chapter 69: Night
Chapter 70: Daylight
Chapter 71 (1): I’ll Like You for a While Longer
Chapter 71 (2): I’ll Like You for a While Longer
Chapter 72: Black Cloud
Chapter 73: Wooden Figure
Chapter 74: The Fire Dragon Roams the Water
Chapter 75: Mountain Selection
Chapter 76: Back to Back
Chapter 77: Entering the Mountains
Chapter 78: Another Dream
Chapter 79: Spring Welcome Seal
Chapter 80: Leaving the Mountains
Chapter 81: Imperial Preceptor
Chapter 82 (1): Master and Student, Senior Brother and Junio
Chapter 82 (2): Master and Student, Senior Brother and Junio
Chapter 83: Dreams
Chapter 84 (1): I Have a Sword
Chapter 84 (2): I Have a Sword
Chapter 85 (1): Conclusion of the Examination
Chapter 85 (2): Conclusion of the Examination
Chapter 86 (1): Walking the Same Path
Chapter 86 (2): Walking the Same Path
Chapter 87 (1): Little Teacher
Chapter 87 (2): Little Teacher
Chapter 88: Grand Entrance
Chapter 89: Two Heads
Chapter 90: Heavy Rain
Chapter 91: Jade Hairpin
Chapter 92 (1): Bamboo Bookcase
Chapter 92 (2): Bamboo Bookcase
Chapter 93 (1): There's a Character on the Wall
Chapter 93 (2): There's a Character on the Wall
Chapter 94: A Feast for the Eyes
Chapter 95: Too Small a Place
Chapter 96: Demons in the Mountains and Rivers
Chapter 97: Bowing to the Mountain
Chapter 98: The Meddlesome Mountain God
Chapter 99: The Mountain God and the Bamboo Saber
Chapter 100 (1): The World Beneath One's Feet
Chapter 100 (2): The World Beneath One's Feet
Chapter 101: Guard the Mountain
Chapter 102: Soaring White Ray
Chapter 103: Bamboo Building
Chapter 104: Sharing the Spoils
Chapter 105: Rootless Duckweed
Chapter 106: People from All Walks of Life
Chapter 107: Fishing Net
Chapter 108: Spring Hunting
Chapter 109: The Young Boy Has Some Words to Say
Chapter 110: All Good Things Must Come to an End
Chapter 111: Bamboo Hat
Chapter 112: Powerful Individual
Chapter 113: Unparalleled Might
Chapter 114: Seeing A'Liang Again
Chapter 115: There's an Old Scholar In the World (1)
Chapter 116: There's an Old Scholar In the World (2)
Chapter 117 (1): There's an Old Scholar In the World (3)
Chapter 117 (2): There's an Old Scholar In the World (3)
Chapter 118 (1): There's Righteousness In The World
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