Chapter 2: Not an idiot, but a blind man
There was no way that Yan Wushi would carry a wounded, dying man on his back, despite that man being the leader of Mount Xuandu.
A disciple was at hand to do the hard jobs. Thus, the task fell to Yu Shengyan.
The Cleansing Moon Sect had a spare mansion in Funing District near Half-Step Peak. It was not easy to walk with someone like Shen Qiao on one’s back, since almost all of his bones had been broken. Especially, one had to also bear in mind the power they were exerting to make sure that Shen Qiao’s condition would not be worsened by it. Although Yu Shengyan’s lightness skills and footwork were top-notch, it still took him almost two hours to reach the mansion.
Yan Wushi had gone on ahead of him. At the moment, he was already having tea at ease.
“Master, are you really saving Shen Qiao?” After settling down the wounded man, Yu Shengyan came to report.
“Should I not?” Yan Wushi asked in reply.
“Pretty much all of his meridians are broken. Many of his bones are fragmented as well. It’s true that he has retained some of his inner qi, but even if we can save his life, there is little hope that he would be able to gain his martial arts back. Besides, the back of his head is also cracked from the fall. He may even wake up as an idiot.”
Yan Wushi smiled faintly, although the smile had no warmth to it, and said, “Qi Fengge’s disciple. The sect leader of Mount Xuandu. The commander of all the orthodox sects. He was once bathed in the highest glory, yet with only one defeat, he ended up being worse than useless. Even if he could return to Mount Xuandu, he can never be the sect leader again. Once he wakes up and knows the situation he’s in, I wonder what his feelings will be?”
Yu Shengyan sighed, “That’s true. Even an ordinary person would not be able to accept a fall like this, not to mention someone like Shen Qiao, who has always been favored by the Heavens. The higher one stands, the harder they fall!”
He then doubted, “But after all, since Shen Qiao was a disciple of Qi Fengge and the leader of Mount Xuandu, who also ranked in the top ten, his martial skills must have been outstanding. Even if Kunye was able to defeat him, how could he defeat him in such a crushing way? Could it be that Kunye’s martial skills are even better than that of Hulugu from the past?”
Yan Wushi smiled once again and replied, “As for this question, if Shen Qiao does not wake up as an idiot, then you can ask him.”
Yu Shengyan had a feeling that ever since they picked up Shen Qiao, his master seemed to be in such a good mood that even the number of times he smiled had increased compared to before.
But this was definitely not enough to give him the wrong impression that his master had a soft spot for Shen Qiao, someone he had just met for the first time without even seeing his face clearly.
He asked tentatively, “Did Master decide to save Shen Qiao in order to make Mount Xuandu indebted to us?”
Yan Wushi explained with quite some gusto: “If he died upon his defeat, it could be seen as a good way to end his future troubles. But what if he wakes up and finds out that not only is he still alive but he has also lost everything he once owned, with his body seriously injured, all his meridians broken and his martial arts completely gone–how will he feel? The more power and authority he once held, the harder it will be to accept a blow like this. His mentality will definitely break down. If I then take him as my disciple, gradually turning this once hypocritical, kind-hearted sect leader of Mount Xuandu into a disciple of the Demonic Sect as someone who knows no moral baselines in the eyes of the public, won’t it be quite interesting?”
Yu Shengyan stood aghast as he listened: “…What if he becomes an idiot?”
Yan Wushi replied as if the matter had little importance, “Then just bury him alive wherever you like.”
Yu Shengyan hesitated: “Master, Shen Qiao’s status was quite special. Why don’t we trade him with Mount Xuandu for a favor? For their reputation’s sake at least, they will not leave their sect leader stranded outside, right?”
Yan Wushi sneered faintly. If the person who was here today was Bian Yanmei, his eldest disciple, he certainly would not have asked a question as naive and laughable as this. Yu Shengyan was still too green.
But his mood was rather good today, so he did not stint to explain further: “You know as well that Shen Qiao stands among the top ten martial artists of the day. Even if he dwells in deep seclusion so that only few people have actually seen his skills, since he was able to take over the mantle
of Qi Fengge, how bad could he possibly be? After all, Kunye is not Hulugu, who has reached the realm of Xiantian experts. Even if Shen Qiao has lost to Kunye, it still shouldn’t have been a problem for him to retreat safely. Why did he end up like this instead?”
Yu Shengyan was not that dumb indeed. Upon hearing it, he immediately followed up, “Something unforeseen must have happened. If it’s something internal to Mount Xuandu, then even if we hand over Shen Qiao to them, they might not accept him. At that time, it is very likely that not only will we not get a favor from them, but we may even bring unnecessary troubles to ourselves.”
‘At least he is not completely hopeless.’ Thinking that, Yan Wushi looked askance at his disciple, “As long as I’m here, the Cleansing Moon Sect need not consider anyone else’s opinion and there will never be a need to trade for any kind of favor.”
It was true that Shen Qiao’s status was quite special, but for Yan Wushi, he was no different from a somewhat rare plaything.
What he said sounded extremely overbearing, but the Yan Wushi today was truly qualified enough to say something like this.
Ten years ago, although he was defeated and injured in his fight with Cui Youwang, the Sect Master of the Demonic Sect, his opponent did not leave safe and sound either. Moreover, at that time, Cui Youwang’s martial power was already unfathomable to the point that it was keeping up with that of Qi Fengge, with hardly any match for him in the entire world.
Ten years later, Cui Youwang and Qi Fengge were both dead, yet Yan Wushi, after seeing the truth of the ninth stage of the Fundamental Records of Phoenix-Qilin, had scaled new heights. Even though his progress in martial power was yet to be tested, it would definitely not be any lower than that of ten years ago.
Nowadays, only very few people knew that he had reappeared in the pugilistic world, otherwise it would have caused a greater stir.
Perhaps, the rankings of the top ten would need an update as well.
Thinking to this point, Yu Shengyan felt a rush of blood in his heart and became a bit excited: “While you were in Meditation, the Harmony Sect has been causing us troubles almost every day. I fought hand to hand with Sang Jingxing once and was injured, having to leave for somewhere far away, which was the reason for my many years of loitering outside. Fortunately, you are finally back…”
The term “Demonic Sect” that the others used, was in fact only a general name.
Initially, the Demonic Sect referred to the Sun Moon Sect located at Mount Sun Moon on Phoenix-Qilin Isle. Later, the Sun Moon Sect split into three smaller ones: the Cleansing Moon Sect, the Harmony Sect, and the Mirror of Arts Sect. Even though the three of them all belonged to the Demonic Sect, they remained friendly only in appearance, while in fact they had never stopped fighting with each other both openly and secretly.
After Yan Wushi entered Closed Door Meditation ten years ago, seeing that the Cleansing Moon Sect was now without a leader, the Harmony Sect had intended to merge the Cleansing Moon Sect into itself. However, the disciples of the Cleansing Moon Sect were not only few in number but also scattered, making it hard for Harmony Sect to take care of every place at the same time. The eldest disciple, Bian Yanmei, had ways to handle matters while staying low-key, thus secretly creating a considerable amount of troubles for people of the Harmony Sect as well.
With their efforts canceling out on each other, the Harmony Sect did not gain much advantage in reality.
It was only Yu Shengyan, since he had entered the sect the most recently and was still young in age, that had suffered quite a few losses.
Now that Yan Wushi was out, the people of the Cleansing Moon Sect, much like lost children who had finally found their mother, naturally flew into raptures.
Yan Wushi said, “Ordinary servants will not be able to handle the wounds of Shen Qiao. You stay here and take care of him for a few days till he wakes up, then return to the foot of Half-step Peak and make sure to fully grasp the fifth stage of Fundamental Records of Phoenix-Qilin.”
Yu Shengyan complied respectfully: “As you command.”
Shen Qiao’s injuries were very serious, but most of the wounds on his face were mere scratches created during his fall. After all the blood was cleared, his true appearance was revealed.
Even with the wounds on his face and a stripe of gauze circling his head, his handsomeness was in no way damaged. Whether it be his arched nose bridge or the lips that were tightly pressed together, all his features gave him a rather abstinent flavor, fully in keeping with the impressions people had of the Daoist priests of Mount Xuandu–oblivious to the filth of the human world.
It was not hard to imagine what kind of grace this pair of eyes would bring to his current splendor when they opened.
Yu Shengyan was definitely not ugly since he had been taken as a disciple by Yan Wushi. He had traveled all over the world and had seen rather a lot of outstanding beauties himself. But even though this face of Shen Qiao in front of him was covered in wounds, he still spaced out quite a while before he could pick up the ointment and apply it while sympathizing with him inside.
Even though fractured bones could be set and broken meridians could be reconnected, the seriously wounded internal organs were not that easy to repair. Moreover, his level of cultivation had been greatly reduced, and he would probably remain weaker than even ordinary people for the remainder of his life. Just imagining the loss of all of his martial arts that he had gained through many years of hard work over a single night, Yu Shengyan found it hard to picture and even more so to accept. Putting himself in others shoes, the conflicts that Shen Qiao was experiencing could only be greater than what he had imagined.
‘What a pity.’ Yu Shengyan said to himself, staring at Shen Qiao’s pale complexion.
The reason that Yan Wushi decided to reach out to save him was merely a sudden impulse. After the saved one was brought back, everything became Yu Shengyan’s responsibility, and Yan Wushi had never asked about it again.
Funing District was a rather small district. Normally only a few travelers would stop by, but because the fight on Half-Step Peak had caused such a sensation in the pugilistic world, a number of martial artists came down from Half-Step Peak these days and, while passing by the Funing District, decided to put up at an inn for the night. Yu Shengyan was able to hear plenty of news during his occasional trips outside.
For example, the fight between Shen Qiao and Kunye was splendid. But after all, Shen Qiao was not Qi Fengge, and his level was still very distant from that of his master. On the other hand, even though Kunye was not as good as his master Hulugu yet, he had rather amazing talents. Hence, not only was the Daoist Reverend Shen unable to compete against Kunye, he even fell down the cliff due to Kunye’s attacks, with his remains nowhere to be found.
Prior to it, a lot of people were filled with righteous indignation after hearing Kunye Lama sending the letter of challenge to Shen Qiao, eager to give it a try and wishing to deflate the Tujue people’s arrogance. However, after the fight, seeing that even the sect leader of Mount Xuandu had suffered such a overwhelming loss, all of those who had once offered to stand up for Shen Qiao now yielded spontaneously and dared not brush against Kunye’s spear anymore.
After this battle, Kunye’s reputation was greatly boosted as he had replaced Shen Qiao in the rankings of the top ten. It was said that during his trip in the Central Plains this time, he would challenge the masters of the Central Plains in order, and it was very likely that his next target would be the Zen Master Xueting of Zhou.
Since the Jin people’s migration to the south and the uprising of the five barbarians, there had not been a grand unification on the land. These days, in the north there were Zhou, Qi, and in the south there was Chen Dynasty, with Tujue and Tuyuhun on the side, each occupying a vast expanse of land around the border area. Sects and families each served their own master, and Confucianism, Buddhism, and Daoism all had their factions set up separately, making a clear distinction between each school.
As the head of all Daoist sects, Mount Xuandu had held fast to its neutral position since Qi Fengge, staying away from all power struggles. Now since Shen Qiao had been defeated by Kunye and his life was still uncertain, no one knew who would succeed him as the sect leader of Mount Xuandu or whether the successor would continue the standpoints of his predecessors.
The main character in the center of the vortex, Shen Qiao, however, was still lying in bed. Yu Shengyan and the servants in the spare mansion would come everyday to change his dressings and apply medicine. Without consciousness or sense, feeling neither grief nor joy, he was totally unaware of what was happening in the outside world.
It was not until half a month later that he finally made his first movement.
Yu Shengyan, who was brought by the servants in a haste, was watching Shen Qiao gradually opening his eyes.
“You are seriously injured. The broken bones have not yet recovered, so you’d better not move.”
The other frowned slightly. His lips touched once in an attempt to move them, as if he wanted to say something, but then it was replaced by a vacant look that had appeared on his face.
‘Don’t tell me he really became an idiot from the fall?’
Yu Shengyan thought as he asked, “Do you still remember your name?”
He slowly blinked once then gradually shook his head. The arc it made was too small to even notice.
Amnesia? Actually it would be normal, since his head had experienced such a serious trauma. Yu Shengyan still remembered that on the day Shen Qiao was brought back, the opening on the back of his head was so deep and long that he could almost see the white skull beneath it.
“This brother…” Speaking seemed to be a very strenuous task for him. Yu Shengyan had to move himself closer in order to hear him clearly. “As I can only find darkness around me, perhaps, I have lost the ability to see…”
Yu Shengyan was shocked. ‘So he did not become an idiot, but a blind man instead?’
 Lightness Skills (轻功 qinggong): often left untranslated as “Qinggong”. The ability to lighten the body and move with great agility and swiftness. At high proficiency, practitioners of this skill can run across water, leap to the top of trees, or even glide through the air. [Source]
 Meridians (经脉 jingmai): the network of vessels/channels in the body through which Qi flows. Like blood vessels, but for Qi instead of blood.
 Inner Qi : Used in place of Inner Breaths (内息 neixi), which is also referred to as Inner Power (内力 neili) sometimes. It is the foundation of how much power one can exert on their moves and can be increased through cultivating inner arts.
 Mantle (衣钵 yibo): A buddhist term that is often used to depict the passing down of position and knowledge. The disciple who is chosen by their master to succeed their position is often referred to as their “mantle disciple”. As in here, it means since Shen Qiao was able to take over the position of Qi Fengge as the new leader of Mount Xuandu.
 Mirror of Arts (法镜 fajing): A more accurate translation is Mirror of Dharma, as in “the Dharma of Buddha is like a mirror”.
 Level of cultivation: This is not a xianxia novel, but it’s a high-end wuxia novel that borrows a lot of terms from xianxia. Cultivation refers to cultivating in martial arts here.
 Lama: “chief” or “high priest”. It’s a title for a teacher of the Dharma in Tibetan Buddhism.