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unsheathed – Chapter 110: All Good Things Must Come to an End

Chapter 110: All Good Things Must Come to an End

Chapter 110: All Good Things Must Come to an End

Something pressed down on Chen Ping'an's shoulder, causing his aura to immediately freeze. The wisp of sword qi in his acupoint had already been like an arrow at full draw that had to be fired. However, the slap on his shoulder had changed everything. This was like a ferocious python going out to hunt yet coming across a flood dragon its initially indomitable aura would naturally freeze and subside, and it would naturally choose to temporarily stop.

"Stop right there," a man with a bamboo hat said as he stood next to Chen Ping'an. He wrapped his arm around the young boy's shoulder and laughed, "We're all one big loving family! Why fight and try to kill each other? How unseemly!"

Chen Ping'an looked up, and the man who came and went like a shadow smiled at him and said, "Believe me, I'm A'Liang!"

Chen Ping'an sighed and relented, "Alright, I'll listen to you for the moment."

A'Liang simply glanced at Zhu He, and he didn't even spare so much as a glance for Zhu Lu. His voice was lazy as he explained, "Using such a precious wisp of sword qi to kill the measly Zhu He is an absolute waste of a divine treasure. Even if you don't feel distressed, I'll feel distressed for you. Moreover... Forget about it. Enough with this depressing talk. To sum it up, my conscience would ache if I didn't step in. Here's a Qi channeling technique for you, The Eighteen Stops. Just treat it as compensation."

Chen Ping'an was just about to exit his stance. However, A'Liang let go of his shoulder and took a step back, shaking his head and remarking with a smile, "Your stance is far too crude and unrefined. I'll teach you something far more impressive."

A'Liang looked at him and ordered, "Stand firm!" He then bent a finger and tapped Chen Ping'an's shoulder. Afterward, his hand was lightning quick as it tapped his chest seven or eight times. At the same time, he used an immortal technique that was even more impressive than compressing one's voice into a thread. His voice directly sounded in the young boy's mind, saying, "Remember the starting point of this Qi, and remember its path as well as the names of the acupoints it passes through. Like a snaking dragon vein, this wisp of Qi rises from the ancestors of mountains, Linchong. This is the first stop, and it's a paramount acupoint to nurture one's sword. After surging through three mountains and six passes, the Qi arrives at the Fuji acupoint, the second stop. After dashing through six caves and nine abodes, it arrives at the Chunyang acupoint, the third stop...

"... And this is the last stop, giving 18 stops in total. The names and descriptions of these acupoints are vastly different from what they are today, and this is the result of immense effort and sacrifice from countless swordsmen from ancient times. You need to commit these to memory!"

In the end, A'Liang asked, "Have you remembered them?"

Sweat formed on Chen Ping'an's forehead, and he replied, "I've remembered most of them."

A'Liang smiled and said, "Remembering most of them is good enough. There's also no need to be afraid if you smash into brutal obstacles or challenges and bloody your face in the future. This is the path that every swordsman must take. Once you become familiar with the circulation path, you can attempt to slowly channel your Qi. This is the most interesting aspect of The Eighteen Stops. Mhm, this is something that I, A'Liang, figured out. Some people are super impressed by this, and they heap praise on me and say that just this suggestion alone was able to elevate their sword skills to a lofty new height. Haha, this is a bit embarrassing..."

Chen Ping'an suddenly felt like this so-called Eighteen Stops was probably not much stronger than the Mountain Shaking Fist.

A'Liang saw through the young boy's thoughts, and he said seriously, "Do I look like a liar who makes empty promises? I, A'Liang, can never be accused of boasting to others!"

Zhu He had already recovered the ability to think at this moment. However, his limbs were feeling even stiffer than before. A single movement would mean death this was the only thought running through his mind. This was the formless aura of dominance radiating from A'Liang.

When one was friends with this man who always wore a green bamboo saber and a small silver gourd by his waist, one would feel like he wasn't a powerful person no matter how one looked at him.

When one became enemies with him, however... Zhu He was drowning in fear and drenched in sweat. He felt as if his soul were about to explode.

In the distance, Zhu He's mental state had already collapsed. Nearby, Zhu Lu could only hear Chen Ping'an mumbling to himself.

A'Liang's voice sounded in Chen Ping'an's mind again, teaching him, "The light boat passes tens of thousands of mountains, and the channeled Qi flows through hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands of miles in an instant this is indeed very good. However, if one can slow down like a mountain slowly building mass yet not accumulating height over 100 years, like a sea slowly gaining volume yet not rising in level that will be even better! When channeling Qi in the future, you can focus on familiarizing yourself with this path. You need to reach a state where your Qi will automatically flow through this path even when you're sleeping."

"How would I know if I'm channeling the Eighteen Stops when I'm sleeping?" Chen Ping'an asked with a puzzled expression.

A'Liang wrapped his arms across his chest and chuckled, "Wander to where the water ends, and sit down to gaze upon the clouds[1]. Follow the flow of nature, and you'll naturally find the answer you seek."

A'Liang sat down on the bench. However, his expression immediately became strange.

Chen Ping'an brought his hand to his forehead.

A'Liang quietly stood up and used his hands to pat the sticky candied fruit from his rear. He then shuffled over and sat elsewhere, resting his hands on the railings as he exhaled a long breath. He finally looked at Zhu Lu for the first time, commanding, "Apart from returning the Hero's Gall Pill and the Purple Qi Guide to me, you and your father also need to hand over the stack of talismans you inherited from the Li Clan. However, these talismans can only save one of you. Zhu Lu, I'll give you a choice now. Will you walk out of Pillow Relay Station alive, or will your father?"

Before Zhu Lu could reply, Zhu He had already begged in a solemn voice, "Senior A'Liang, I earnestly beg you to let Zhu Lu leave. I'm willing to commit suicide to make up for our sins. In fact, there's no need to even soil Senior A'Liang's bamboo blade."

A'Liang simply smiled as he looked at Zhu Lu with squinted eyes, completely ignoring Zhu He who had already retrieved the pill, immortal scripture, and talismans. "Zhu Lu, who do you want to live?"

Her face was already filled with tears, yet she forcefully covered her mouth with a hand, not daring to make a sound.

Meanwhile, her other hand was tightly clenched behind her back, so tight that her nails were drawing blood from her palm, leaving her entire hand crimson red.

Zhu He fell to his knees with a heavy thud, kowtowing to the man as he called in a quivering voice, "Senior A'Liang!"

A'Liang turned to Chen Ping'an and asked, "What do you say? Or perhaps we should release them both? I can cripple Zhu He's cultivation base for you if you're afraid of him seeking revenge. If you're still afraid of unexpected accidents, I can even sever his lifespan with ease. Mhm, I can do the same to Zhu Lu."

Chen Ping'an didn't look at Zhu He, and he only looked at Zhu Lu as he replied, "I said before, you have to die."

Zhu He suddenly looked up and roared, "Chen Ping'an, Zhu Lu's only a child!"

Chen Ping'an had been relatively calm the entire time, yet his face instantly became white with fury when he heard this.

The young boy dashed forward, and he was just about to shatter Zhu Lu's chest with a single punch. Her aura was chaotic at this moment, and she was no better off than a mortal young girl. For some reason, however, his fist involuntarily opened up into a palm at some time, and its trajectory also took an upward turn. A vicious slap rang against Zhu Lu's cheek.

A'Liang placed a hand on Chen Ping'an's shoulder again, saying, "That's enough."

He chuckled softly and continued, "Some punishments are even crueler than a quick and simple death."iscover nw chaptrs n n0e(l)bi(.)com

Chen Ping'an returned to the long bench and spaced out. He had no clue how A'Liang had dealt with Zhu He and Zhu Lu, nor did he have any clue how they had left Pillow Relay Station and where they would go in the future.

He suddenly looked up and asked, "A'Liang, do you have any wine?"

A'Liang smiled and replied, "Of course I do. My small gourd can hold 500 liters of wine. However, I have to warn you about something first. It's important that one doesn't drink when they're experiencing grief. Otherwise, it's extremely easy to end up as a pathetic alcoholic. However, one can drink when they're feeling happy and carefree. Perhaps drinking will even lead them to become a wine immortal."

Outside Pillow Relay Station...

Lin Shouyi stood by himself on the street. He wasn't sure why A'Liang had told him to stay outside, but A'Liang had said that he needed to wait for someone to arrive. At that time, he could then decide whether he wanted to enter the relay station or not.

Even though he was bored out of his mind, the young boy still stood as tall and straight as a lone pine on the mountaintop.

Borrowing the light from the large red lantern hanging by the door of the relay station, Lin Shouyi retrieved the Confucian scripture, Recite Atop Clouds Scripture, and started to read the characters that were hard to pronounce and understand.

Whenever he came across concepts that he understood or achieved new enlightenment, however, he would feel sheer delight as if basking in the sun reappearing from behind the clouds and mists. The aloof young boy who had been shaped into the person he was by his rough life didn't want to share this sincere joy with anyone else.

Lin Shouyi was never afraid to view the world and its people in the most negative light possible.

An ordinary-looking woman walked over from the distance. There was amazement in her eyes when she saw the young boy, and she remarked with emotion, "Sure enough, this is someone with a brilliant aptitude for cultivation."

The woman stopped half a dozen paces away from the young boy and said with a smile, "Hello, Lin Shouyi. We've already met once by the riverside, me on the decorated boat and you on the bank. My true identity is the grand elder of the Great Li Empire's Palace of Eternal Spring[2]. I'm not trying to boast, but I'm indeed the type of immortal that commoners and peasants look up to. I can summon wind and rain with a flick of my sleeves, and I can shake land and mountains with a stomp of my foot. I'm especially skilled at the Five Lightning Righteous Technique, and I can slay demons and spirits with a turn of my palm..."

After saying this, the woman chuckled to herself before waving a hand and saying, "No, this won't do. This kind of introduction is far too overbearing."

However, Lin Shouyi nodded and said, "I believe you."

"I don't know what your father told you in his letter, and I more so don't know what A'Liang's intentions are," the woman chuckled. "However, since he chose to leave you outside the relay station even though he's aware that I've been following your group the entire time, I feel like I can give this a shot. I want to see if I can convince you to return to the capital with me. After farewelling your parents, you can then come with me to the Palace of Eternal Spring to cultivate."

"My father told me to obediently stay in Red Candle Town," Lin Shouyi replied with a nonchalant expression. "Afterward, he said a powerful person would bring me to the capital with them. Otherwise, he wouldn't collect my corpse for me even if I mysteriously died somewhere a dead person isn't worth the transportation fee. Father also mentioned that things are extremely dear in the capital right now, so the expenditure of the clan is quite large."

The woman sighed and said, "Your father's words are indeed grating on the ear. However, is this not the truth?"

A smile of ridicule tugged at the corners of the young boy's lips.

The woman hesitated for a brief moment before extending a hand to Lin Shouyi and offering with a dignified expression, "Even though you might find this childish and nowhere near mysterious enough, lacking all kinds of ups and downs, sharp-witted exchanges, and grueling tests, I still want to tell you this. Lin Shouyi, take a step forward, and you can set foot on the bridge to longevity."

Lin Shouyi put his book away before shaking his head and replying, "Thank you for your offer and good intentions, Immortal Elder. I can't control what clan I'm born into, nor can I control what surname I'm given. However, I can control what path I take, and I'm well aware of what direction I should head in."

"What a shame..."

The woman could do nothing but sigh. She didn't try to force the young boy against his will, and she said, "Then till next time, Lin Shouyi. I hope you won't be filled with regret when we meet again."

Lin Shouyi clasped his hands and bowed in respect, saying in a proper manner, "Lin Shouyi respectfully farewells Immortal Elder."

The woman vanished in a flash.

Inside the relay station...

Chen Ping'an and A'Liang sat on benches opposite each other in the corridor.

"A'Liang, are you about to leave?" Chen Ping'an asked softly.

A'Liang nodded in reply.

He raised his small gourd and took a swig of wine.

It was clear that he had recalled a sad memory. As it turned out, his warning to Chen Ping'an about not drinking when feeling down was nothing more than an empty message.

As he dazedly looked at the young boy looked at his clean and pure eyes it was as if he were looking at that pair of eyes from many years ago.

'A'Liang, I've made up my mind. Studying is useless! It's far too annoying! I, Qi Jingchun, am going to travel the world with you. I'm going to repay kindness with kindness and violence with violence. I'm going to drink the strongest liquor, wield the quickest sword, and ride the best horse. Mhm, I've already prepared enough money more than a dozen taels of silver! If this isn't enough, I can go back to borrow some from my master. Master is extremely understanding, and he said that I can go out and travel around if I genuinely don't want to study anymore. Knowledge lies everywhere in the vast stretches of mountains and rivers.'

The young scholar in green had been beaten black and blue by others, yet the look in his eyes had been especially pure and determined.

An old scholar had snooped around the gates of the academy, not daring to show himself and only leaving his head visible. He had furiously gestured to A'Liang with his eyes, and when A'Liang ignored him, he had decided to step out and stand next to the gate. Rolling up his sleeves, he had gestured that he would fight to the death with A'Liang if he dared to trick his disciple.

'Off you go. You've barely hit puberty, yet you're already talking so big. I'll take you to see the colorful world when you grow older and more mature.'

'Then it's a promise, A'Liang! I'll wait for you.'

In the end, A'Liang had faced the young boy with his back, holding a sword in his hand and tapping it against his shoulder in a carefree manner. Waving his other hand that was clenched into a fist, he had bade farewell.

The traveling swordsman A'Liang had bade farewell to the young scholar who dreamed of traveling the world.

This farewell... was an eternal farewell.

In the end, he had turned around to see the young boy walking away as he held the old scholar's hand. The two of them were returning to the academy.

The old man and young boy had been chatting with each other.

'Jingchun, I forgot to ask before. Who beat you up?'

'That person with the surname Zuo.'

'Hah? Him? He was that careless when he beat you up? I'll give him a good lecture when we get back. A virtuous person should settle disputes through reason and not violence. Was he unable to win through reason? Is that why he threw hands in a fit of shame and anger?'

'No.'

'Hmm?'

'He was willing to admit defeat after losing the debate. However, he purposely said that I would have no hope of ever surpassing you, Master, no matter how many books I read. How is this possible, I thought to myself. Even though Master is knowledgeable, you always become drowsy when you try to read now. I always see you nodding off while you're reading.

'However, I'm still young, so there'll eventually come a day when I read more books than you, Master... Even so, he continued to mumble under his breath, and he said that I should become more knowledgeable than Master in a day if I were truly so capable. I got angry when I heard this, so I ran over to hit him first. I couldn't beat him, and I'm willing to admit this fact.

'See, that's why I didn't dob on him when I saw you just then. Scholars should naturally be moral characters who have backbones, am I right? Master, I reckon you're a bit lacking in this area. When you win the debate but lose the fight, you always boast about how profound your knowledge is and how incredible and historical the debate was. When you lose the debate but win the fight, however, you instead boast about how earth-shattering and gripping the fight was...

'Master, master! Why are you twisting my ear? Ow, ow, ow! A virtuous person should settle disputes through reason and not violence!'

'What virtuous person? Your master is a sage!'

Upon seeing this, the man had finally turned around to leave, with his movements carefree and dashing.

During those long and tumultuous years, the man would sometimes sit atop that great wall and enjoy gulps of wine by himself. Small pieces of news and rumors would travel over from the distant Stalactite Mountain, with none of them being good news. It would be nightmare after nightmare. Listening to this news, the man would regret not bringing that young scholar with him. He would grumble about the old geezer and scold him for not even being able to look after his favorite disciple.

And now, looking at the young boy before him, A'Liang suddenly smiled. "I once offered a comment to a young boy who was around the same age as you. I told him, 'Believe me, you'll enjoy more success as a scholar than a swordsman'. I feel like I should offer a comment to you as well now. Believe me, you'll enjoy more success with the sword than with your fists."

Under his bamboo hat, A'Liang wore a wide and brilliant smile, one that was like the warm sun on a cold winter day.

However, Chen Ping'an had never seen such a sad A'Liang before.

1. An excerpt from Wang Wei's poem, Mount Zhongnan Lodge.

2. The Palace of Eternal Spring borrows the name of a palace in the Forbidden City that housed imperial concubines.

Chapter end

<<Prev
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Catalogue
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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