Unsheathed - C.262 (2): A Lone Boat, A Handsome Young Boy


C.262 (2): A Lone Boat, A Handsome Young Boy

Chen Ping'an woke up at five in the morning every day. The sky would still be dark, and he would first practice the six steps of walking meditation for approximately two hours. Ma Zhi would arrive at around seven, and the old sword cultivator would leisurely drink a pot of osmanthus wine while he waited for Chen Ping'an to finish practicing that bland and unremarkable fist technique. In fact, it was more accurate to say that Chen Ping'an would wait for the old man to finish drinking his pot of wine.

When Ma Zhi finished drinking, it would roughly be time for Jin Su to deliver breakfast to them. They would eat for half an hour, and Ma Zhi would use this time to roughly explain the strength and sword intent of the sword strikes that he would unleash later in the day. He would also tell Chen Ping'an some peculiar or interesting stories regarding sword cultivators.

Afterward, Chen Ping'an would return the breakfast boxes to Jin Su, who would be waiting at the front door of the courtyard. He would thank her, and he wouldn't feel embarrassed to directly ask for osmanthus wine if he needed to replenish his stock in the small courtyard.

Following Ma Zhi's suggestion, Chen Ping'an's training would start off easy in the morning and gradually become harder as the day went on. Chen Ping'an would first practice sword techniques from the Proper Sword Scripture for four hours. During this time, Ma Zhi would suddenly attack him without warning from time to time, purposely breaking up the young boy's sword techniques.

Thus, Chen Ping'an needed to perfect the four sword techniques including the Avalanche Technique and the Deity Suppression Technique, and he also needed to be wary of sudden attacks from the Golden Core Tier sword cultivator at any given moment. On some days, Ma Zhi might decide to directly move the afternoon's sparring session to the morning.

Before afternoon arrived, the two of them would definitely have lunch before beginning their sparring session. From the beginning until now, Ma Zhi had silently raised his suppressed cultivation base from the Abode Tier to the Sea Observation Tier, the seventh tier. free(w)ebnov(e)l

While sitting beside the stone table and drinking by himself, the old sword cultivator would continue to unleash sword strikes and control his bonded flying sword, Shade, as it attacked Chen Ping'an.

Ma Zhi didn't care what techniques Chen Ping'an used to counter his sword strikes, be that his simple-looking fist technique that radiated with a frightening aura, the four offensive and defensive techniques that he had learned from the Proper Sword Scripture, or a series of bastard fist techniques that were capable of killing his masters. All Ma Zhi cared about was that Chen Ping'an could evade the flying sword furiously chasing him, or he could send it flying back with his punches or other attacks.

It was often the case that Chen Ping'an would be riddled with injuries and his clothes in tatters before the afternoon sparring session even concluded.

Sometimes, Ma Zhi would slow down his attacks and give reprieve to the extremely disheveled Chen Ping'an. He would take a few more swigs of wine, and peanuts, garlic clams, fried fish, pig ear salad, and such snacks would be more than enough for him to enjoy with his wine.

Every time after Chen Ping'an was given the rare opportunity to take a breather, however, the next strike from the old man would definitely be ruthless and thunderous. Ma Zhi might be enjoying some crispy fried fish, yet Chen Ping'an would be having his heart pierced by a lightning-fast sword strike. The flying sword would then fly around in an arc and pierce his heart a second time from behind.

After seeing this, the old sword cultivator would sneer, "If it weren't for my flying sword becoming intangible, you would have already died two times. You would no longer be able to enjoy this salt and pepper fish. Chen Ping'an, even if it's just for the sake of these small snacks, you should work harder."

In order to guarantee the continuity of their sparring session, there was no notion of dinner in the Guimai courtyard. Instead, there would only be midnight snacks. Jin Su simply needed to leave some food by the door of the courtyard.

Generally speaking, Chen Ping'an would stand still to take a beating starting from around five in the afternoon. Ma Zhi's flying sword would soar through his soul to temper the strength and toughness of his three immortal souls.

Starting recently, the old sword cultivator no longer explained his sword techniques to Chen Ping'an in detail. Rather, he simply adjusted his strength carefully and let Chen Ping'an slowly ruminate the pain.

Chen Ping'an both liked and disliked this period of time. He liked it because he understood the great benefit that this grueling training would bring to his martial arts cultivation. However, he disliked it because it would always remind him of his torturous experience in the bamboo building back in Downtrodden Mountain.

Fortunately, the old sword cultivator was comparatively more reserved. This was unlike the barefoot old man, whose fearsome and relentless attacks had been like a god from the Heavenly Court pulverizing a mere mortal to death in a cruel and merciless manner.

Because of this, the training sessions in the Guimai courtyard were far more relaxing than the training sessions in the bamboo building. Not only was Chen Ping'an able to withstand them, but he could even use this opportunity to practice walking meditation as well as the two defensive techniques from the Proper Sword Scripture, the Mountain Technique and the Armor-Wearing Technique.

As time went on, the young boy seeking joy amid pain eventually managed to discover something interesting. That was, if he practiced the Avalanche Technique that involved furious speed and complex movements while gritting his teeth and facing the excruciating pain brought about by being disemboweled, having his heart pierced and hit organs minced, and so on, his sword strikes would gradually become quicker and quicker.

As a result, Chen Ping'an's comprehension of his offensive technique grew at a rapid and almost divine speed. After a while, Chen Ping'an almost felt as if he were genuinely holding a celestial sword as he feigned holding a sword and unleashed the Avalanche Technique. It was as if sword light were genuinely about to soar into the sky and illuminate the small courtyard with its cold radiance.

It would often be nine at night when their sparring session finally came to an end. After an entire day of training, Chen Ping'an would head off to boil some water before placing the necessary medicinal ingredients into the bathtub. While waiting for the water to boil, he would walk to the entrance of the courtyard to collect the food delivered by Jin Su. The old man and the young boy would use the stone table as a dining table and enjoy a midnight snack.

If Chen Ping'an had serious injuries, or if his body was drenched in blood, he would immediately jump into the bathtub before joining Ma Zhi to eat his midnight snack. Even if Ma Zhi ate first, he would still remain seated by the stone table and wait for Chen Ping'an to join him.

While the young boy ate, he would summarize the good points and bad points of the day's sword training session. This was similar to reviewing a finished game of Go. Ma Zhi was a Golden Core Tier sword cultivator, after all, so he naturally possessed keen observation skills and unique insights. Even though his cultivation base was far lower than that of Cui Chan's grandfather, Ma Zhi was more willing to delve deep and clearly explain some matters. Chen Ping'an received satisfactory responses to most of his questions.

After cleaning up the food boxes, Chen Ping'an would continue to practice walking meditation from the Mountain Shaking Guide. Even if ten or a hundred years passed, and no matter what height his cultivation base reached, Chen Ping'an might still insist on practicing this crude and most elementary fist stance.

Chen Ping'an would return to his room to sleep when midnight arrived.

He would repeat an almost identical schedule day after day, and before he knew it, he had already experienced over thirty sunrises and sunsets on Osmanthus Island. Of the nine scenes in the sea, three had already quietly passed.

Another ten days passed, and the old sword cultivator suggested that it was appropriate for Chen Ping'an to take a break from cultivation. They were about to pass the fourth scene on the route, so Chen Ping'an should head over to the ancestor osmanthus tree to enjoy the scene.

Since the old man said this, Chen Ping'an decided to take his advice. It was coincidentally dawn when Chen Ping'an arrived at the mountain peak of Osmanthus Island. It was already teeming with people, and gazing afar, he could see a gigantic opening in front of them. The travel route of Osmanthus Island would take them directly through this opening. There were cascading mountains to the two sides, and row after row of structures atop the mountains. These buildings were constructed atop the mountainous islands and shrouded in clouds and mist.

This scene wasn't peculiar because of the secluded immortal force that existed on these lone islands in the middle of the sea. Instead, it was peculiar because of the pair of 300-meter-tall golden deity statues set atop the sheer cliff faces on the two opposite islands. These statues were majestic and extraordinary, and they were still a dazzling gold color even after being punished by the waves for countless years. Even Qi refiners would feel a sense of awe upon seeing these statues.

According to legends, the formal gods represented by the two golden statues were the divine general who once guarded the Northern Heavenly Gate and the deity who once controlled the main water fortunes of the world. The former god his sword in front of him, with the sword tip resting on the ground and his hands resting on its hilt. It was as if he were a colossal god peering down at the mortal world. Meanwhile, the latter god was the top-ranked deity served by the many rain gods, and they were nominally in charge of the distribution of clouds and rains done by the true dragons in the world.

The facial features of the rain god deity were blurry and covered by clouds and mist, so it was impossible to determine whether they were male or female. There was a five-colored ribbon of unknown material hovering around its body and gently drifting in the air, appearing as agile and lively as could be. This brought life to the giant statue of the deity whose golden body had already disappeared tens of thousands ago, making it seem as if the deity were still alive and wielding its divine might in the mortal world, controlling the water fortunes over the entire southern region.

Chen Ping'an sat down cross-legged on a long bench attached to a railing on top of the mountain. He faced the two statues and slowly drank wine.

The Qi refiners beside him were mostly conversing using the official dialects of Complete Reed Continent and Parasol Leaf Continent, although some would occasionally speak in the dialects local to Old Dragon City. Chen Ping'an naturally couldn't understand them.

Fortunately, there was a Qi refiner from Osmanthus Island's Fan Clan not far away from here. She looked like a young girl, yet she wasn't dressed like the other osmanthus girls. Her voice was crisp, and she was most likely responsible for explaining the unique nature of this scene in the sea.

She was using the official dialect of Eastern Treasured Vial Continent to expound on this scene of the two gods confronting each other, and she described to the passengers the origin of these two divine statues. In addition to this, she also introduced them to the long history of the immortal force that existed atop the mountains.

Someone asked her why Osmanthus Island wasn't going to dock here, and the young girl from the Fan Clan smiled and explained that this immortal force never accepted any visiting vessel, even though they allowed these vessels to pass. If anyone dared to enter the islands without permission, they would be immediately driven out, and that was the fortunate case.

If things were more severe, they might be imprisoned in some jail on the islands. In fact, there had even been tragic cases of people being directly executed by that immortal force.

In the end, the young girl smiled and told the passengers from the mountains that they would come across the next scene in five days. This was an especially magnificent scene, and it was something that they shouldn't miss.

Osmanthus Island slowly sailed between the two cliff faces. An embroidered ball suddenly rushed down, flying toward a young man who was enjoying the scenery atop the mountain.

The young man subconsciously caught the embroidered ball and dazedly looked up at the cliffs, unsure of why that immortal force was doing this.

The young Qi refiner from the Fan Clan was stunned, and she hurriedly exclaimed, "Young Master, I've heard from my seniors in Osmanthus Island that this is the way females from this immortal force look for husbands. She's taken a fancy to you, and this is a one-in-100-year fated opportunity! Young Master, if you're yet to marry, you definitely have to agree to this relationship. Even if you're already... In any case, only celestial maidens who are direct disciples of this immortal force have the right to toss embroidered balls toward passing vessels. You truly shouldn't let slip such a profound fated opportunity. Young Master, you definitely have to consider this carefully..."

As the young Qi refiner held the embroidered ball and looked up at someplace on the steep cliffs, it was clear that he was experiencing an examination in his mind's lake.

After a while, the young man seemingly passed this examination, and the embroidered ball created from a colorful ribbon suddenly unfurled and tied itself around the young man's wrist. Meanwhile, the other end of the ribbon flew toward the mountain peak, bringing the young man along with it as it drifted toward a colorful building located beside the deity statue's feet atop the cliff.

There was a breathtakingly beautiful young woman inside the colorful building, and her cheeks were flushed red as she tightly gripped the other end of the colorful ribbon. There were several women with extraordinary immortal auras standing around her, and they were smiling faintly as if giving their blessings to this pair of divine lovers who were like a match made in heaven.

Chen Ping'an witnessed everything, and he didn't feel envy or jealousy as he watched the young man ascend to the heavens in a single step. He didn't sigh with emotion and muse about the peculiar encounters in the world either. Instead, he was only slightly adrift.

Just then, the young man had only been standing a dozen or so paces away from him. When the young girl from the Fan Clan had mentioned whether he was married or not, the young man's expression had clearly changed ever so slightly. However, a profound fated opportunity had been sitting in front of him, so he had resolutely abandoned his wife with whom he had gone through thick and thin.

Chen Ping'an raised his head and glanced toward the colorful building on the cliff. He felt like the immortal lady who had tossed the embroidered ball might possess an impressive cultivation base, but her judgment of character was truly very lacking.

After returning to the Guimai courtyard, Ma Zhi roared with hearty laughter as he drank wine and ate snacks. "I didn't expect for an embroidered ball to be thrown at the island. However, it's a shame that the target wasn't you. What a shame, what a great shame! You have to realize that in the history of Osmanthus Island, it isn't an exaggeration to call this event of having a colorful embroidered ball tossed from the mountaintop a one-in-100-year occurrence. However, it's a shame that you couldn't attract this romantic fated opportunity..."

Chen Ping'an grimaced upon hearing this, and the playful expression disappeared from the old man's face as he continued in a soft voice, "In fact, all Ten Scenes of Osmanthus Island contain fated opportunities, some big and some small. Of course, these are fated opportunities that one can only wish for. Everything is determined by fate. Take for example the colorful embroidered ball tossed onto the island today. Who would've thought that the fortunate person would be an Abode Tier vagrant cultivator with mediocre cultivation talent?"

Ma Zhi's expression became serious, and he suggested, "You can ignore nine of the scenes, and it doesn't matter much even if you have zero thoughts of trying your luck. However, you have to personally head to the foot of Osmanthus Island when we arrive at the next scene. The closer you can get to the seawater the better. This is because the next fated opportunity is a grand one that even Golden Core Tier or Nascent Soul Tier cultivators will be envious of."

"If it's just trying my luck, then I'll pass on the offer," Chen Ping'an said in exasperation. "It's better and more practical to practice the sword in this courtyard."

The old sword cultivator widened his eyes and exclaimed, "Go, you definitely have to go. Even if the chance is smaller than one in 10,000, you still have to go over to try your luck. One shouldn't foolishly expect everything to go smoothly in cultivation, but one should at least have some hope. If you head over, you can both enjoy the scenery and try your luck. Even if you fail to obtain the grand fated opportunity, it's not like you're going to lose anything in the process. Why, you little brat! Remember this, the words 'what if' are the most terrifying words for Qi refiners, but it's also the most sought-after outcome for Qi refiners..."

"Mr. Ma, I'm not a Qi refiner. I'm a pure martial artist," Chen Ping'an said carefully.

The old sword cultivator slapped his forehead before standing up and fuming, "You're truly making me angry! You can train by yourself for the next two days. I need to wander around to relax my mind. Facing a stubborn person like you all day long is seriously boring!"

Sure enough, Ma Zhi didn't show up at the Guimai courtyard for the next two days. That being the case, Chen Ping'an could only practice the sword by himself.

Afterward, the old man appeared travel-worn as he returned to the Guimai courtyard and met Chen Ping'an for a brief moment. After saying that Chen Ping'an was doing fairly well, and to keep things up, he disappeared from the courtyard again.

Chen Ping'an simply dismissed this as the old man having his own matters to deal with. This wasn't strange.

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