Chapter 47: Starting Anew
After he was rejected and humiliated by Shen Qiao, Chen Gong sent his men over two more times. The first time they were quite polite, claiming they would like to invite Shen Qiao over to the Duke of Pengcheng District’s mansion. When they were told that Shen Qiao was not in the monastery, they didn’t believe it. Under the abbot’s permission, they searched the entire monastery and stalked out angrily. When they came the second time, however, they weren’t so polite anymore. In fact, they came with great publicity and arrogance. Chen Gong understood Shen Qiao quite well to know that Shen Qiao didn’t like to implicate others, so he told his men to bring back the abbot and his two disciples. This way, Shen Qiao would definitely come to him when he heard what happened.
But the abbot saw it coming. He brought the two disciples with him, and the three of them took shelter in the basement. Chen Gong’s men went away empty-handed and thought they must have escaped the night before. They had no choice but to report back.
Chuyi was never as quiet a child as Shiwu. After spending only a few days in the basement, he was overcome by the desire to go out. The dim light and the stale air surely made it less comfortable a place to live than the ground above. There happened to be a gathering in the city around that time. After a long period of begging and pleading, he finally convinced the abbot to let him go to the market. The abbot even warned him not to come back too early.
However, fate had proved itself unavoidable. Even though Chuyi tried to sneak in as quietly as he could, with the level of martial arts skill of the person who came, it was impossible for Chuyi to pass by unnoticed.
Shen Qiao’s expression changed as soon as the person spoke.
“Little priest, do you live here?”
“Who are you?” Chuyi asked.
There were two holes in the basement for people to breathe. Those who first built it gave it a special structure so that people from within could hear the sound outside, but it was very hard for the others out there to spot the place.
‘Who is he?’ Seeing the expression on Shen Qiao’s face, the abbot asked silently.
Covering one hand over his mouth to fight the desire to cough, Shen Qiao dipped a finger in water and rapidly wrote on the table: Xiao Se, a disciple of Yuan Xiuxiu of the Harmony Sect. I was injured during a fight with Sang Jingxing.
It was true that Yuan Xiuxiu and Sang Jingxing were on bad terms, but since both of them were members of the Harmony Sect, it was hard for Shen Qiao to imagine that Xiao Se’s sudden arrival would be anything good.
Shiwu was still a little confused, but the abbot understood the situation. His face quickly turned into a palish green just like Shen Qiao’s.
When Shen Qiao stopped by earlier, he thought they were just three ordinary Daoist priests. It wasn’t until the abbot took his pulse did he realize that he was very likely a pugilist just like himself.
But the identity of the abbot didn’t matter anymore. What mattered was that since Xiao Se chose to come at such a time, it was surely out of bad intent. Moreover, it was almost certain that he was coming for Shen Qiao.
“My name is Xiao Se.” They heard the other person say. His voice was so soft that he sounded more like a visitor than a troublemaker. “Little priest, have you seen a person named Shen Qiao?”
“No, I ha-haven’t!”
Xiao Se laughed, “Little priest, you can’t even lie. Tell me, where is he?”
Chuyi said in a loud voice, “I don’t know. Who are you? You’d better leave now or my master will beat you to death when he comes back!”
But Xiao Se didn’t seem to be angry at all. He said gently, “If you don’t tell me, I’ll have to bring you back to Elder Sang. He’s not in a good mood nowadays. In fact, he has already killed three of his beauties. I was just worried that the old man would soon run out of people to vent his anger. You shouldn’t make poor choices just for someone like Shen Qiao!”
Inside the basement, Shen Qiao struggled to get off bed, but the abbot firmly held him in place. His strength was so great that Shen Qiao had no way to fight back.
“Listen to me!” He lowered his voice and whispered in Shen Qiao’s ears, “Those from the Harmony Sect are but a bunch of heartless murderers. They won’t release Chu Yi just because you choose to come out. You’ll only get both of you in trouble. You stay here and take care of Shiwu. I’ll go!”
Shen Qiao knew what he said was true, but he could not imagine himself hiding here safely and watching others taking over his responsibility.
He shook his head. Just when he was about to tell the abbot that he would save Chuyi at all costs, the abbot had already locked his acupoints at lightning speed. Afterwards, he quickly fished out something from his robe and placed it into Shen Qiao’s hand. “If anything happens, you can take Shiwu to the Jade Cloud Sect on Mount Tai and tell them that their unworthy disciple Zhu Lengquan took in a disciple while he was away, so Shiwu can return to his sect and acknowledge our forefathers.”
After the abbot finished, he attacked Shiwu’s acupoints, immobilizing him as well, and said to them, “I didn’t hit it hard. You two should be able to move again after about fifteen minutes. Shen Qiao, I’ll leave Shiwu to you. Please remember this responsibility of yours.”
He got up and left the basement without looking back.
The basement exit led to several directions. In order to avoid going out directly and therefore exposing the entrance to the basement, the abbot purposely went out from an exit in a different room.
“It’s already late. Who’s disturbing people’s sleep?” He stretched and walked out with a sleepy face. “Who are you? Why are you holding onto my disciple?”
“Master!” Xiao Se was still clutching Chuyi’s shoulder. He almost teared up when he saw the abbot.
“Are you the abbot of this monastery?” Xiao Se asked.
“I am. Who are you?” The abbot frowned, “If my disciple has offended you in any way, I apologize to you on his behalf. Please release him.”
Xiao Se didn’t let go of his hand. He glanced at the sword in the abbot’s hand and asked with a light smile, “Where is Shen Qiao?”
“Who is Shen Qiao? I’ve never heard such a name.”
Xiao Se narrowed his eyes, “We all know what’s going on. Acting silly isn’t going to do you any good. Say, if I crush your disciple’s shoulder bone right now, will the pain make him give away the person you’re trying to protect?”
He tightened his grip. Chuyi started screaming and cursing Xiao Se’s ancestors using all kinds of dirty slang.
“Stop it!” The abbot stopped hesitating and unsheathed his sword. The blade vibrated slightly in the air as he charged straight at the other person.
Xiao Se didn’t let go of Chuyi. Even though he was carrying a person in his hand, it didn’t seem to slow him down at all. He struck out a palm, groaning, “This errand is from your master. Are you expecting me to take responsibility? If you don’t come out now, you’ll have to find Shen Qiao’s whereabouts yourself. Anyway, this little priest is pretty good-looking. It’ll be enough to report to my master if I just bring him back.”
“Senior Brother Xiao, even though your master is the sect leader, her influence in the sect is even less than my master’s. I say, you should just join the more promising side and become my master’s disciple instead!”
Xiao Se made a muffled groan, but he didn’t answer.
However, the abbot’s expression changed drastically.
Accompanied by laughter, two more people appeared before him.
One of them donned a white robe, her face sweet and adorable. It was the girl Bai Rong whom Shen Qiao had met quite a few times.
The other person was bald, but he wasn’t a monk. In fact, his clothes were even flashier than those of the ordinary heirs from aristocratic families and looked a little misfitting on him.
But the abbot did not dare use his strange fashions as a reason to look down on him, because he recognized the person.
The man was Yan Shou, another one from the Harmony Sect that was difficult to deal with.
He was nicknamed the “Bloody-Handed Buddha”, because even though he had the dignified appearance of a buddha, his heart was as cruel as a devil, with a pair of hands that were soaked with the blood of countless lives.
Yan Shou was not as twisted as Huo Xijing. He didn’t like peeling people’s skin, but those who died in his hands were not any less in number compared to those killed by Huo Xijing.
It was obvious that even though Sang Jingxing was seriously injured by Shen Qiao, it also led to him hating Shen Qiao to his guts. It was only natural for him to send out his disciples to search for the latter.
If it was Xiao Se alone, the abbot believed there was still a chance for him to put up a fight and force the other person to retreat. Now with two more people showing up, he dared not say confidently that he could handle all three by himself.
“Give Shen Qiao to us,” said Yan Shou.
No one saw how he moved, but in the blink of an eye, the boy who was still in Xiao Se’s hand a moment ago was already seized by Yan Shou. Chuyi was only a beginner in martial arts, and being slightly tortured was enough to make him break into tears and cry out, “Master, help me!” However, despite all the screaming and crying, he did not say where Shen Qiao and Shiwu were.
Torn with grief, the abbot couldn’t care less about himself being less in number and weaker in strength. He twirled his sword and thrusted forward.
But it was Bai Rong who crossed swords with him, not Yan Shou.
Gifted with an aptitude for martial arts, she was making unimaginable progress day after day. Her skill in martial arts was far greater than when Shen Qiao last saw her. “Lotus Prints” turned into thousands of blooming lotus flowers falling next to the abbot. The abbot split every single one of them with his sword, but they soon re-bloomed, forming a continuous and endless cycle of life.
The abbot broke into a sweat. He could handle fighting Bai Rong alone, but the presence of Yan Shou and Xiao Se on the side was a tremendous amount of pressure. He knew very well that even if he managed to defeat Bai Rong, the other two could attack at any time.
If he retreated right now, he might still be able to escape unscatched. But since Chuyi was still in their hands, it was impossible for the abbot to abandon him and run away alone.
Yan Shou saw his weak point. He increased the power of his grip and asked again, “Where’s Shen Qiao?”
Chuyi let out another howl of pain.
The abbot’s heart shook, same with his hand. Bai Rong spotted an opening in his moves and pressed her palm on the abbot’s chest. The latter spat out a mouthful of blood and took three steps backward.
“I don’t know anyone named Shen Qiao! You guys are being totally unreasonable, suddenly breaking into our monastery and starting to beat us! My disciples and I have been living peacefully in this broken monastery and we could not have made enemies with anyone!”
Xiao Se suddenly laughed, “Elder Yan, don’t you think his moves look like martial arts from the Jade Cloud Sect on Mount Tai?”
“Yes, there is some resemblance.”
“Why would a disciple of the Jade Cloud Sect hide himself all the way here? Could it be that he was expelled from the sect?”
The abbot made up his mind and clenched his teeth with a cold grin, “That’s right. I am Zhu Lengquan, a disciple of the Jade Cloud Sect and the Martial Uncle of the current sect leader Zhao Chiying. If you all have connections with the Jade Cloud Sect, please let me and my disciples go. I’ll definitely ask the sect leader to express gratitude on our behalf!”
Xiao Se burst out laughing, “I’m sorry that we’ll probably disappoint you. We have no dealings with the Jade Cloud Sect. Besides, what happened today will make you hate us anyway. Then why not let us take it a step further to ensure that it won’t bite us in the future?”
Right after he finished the sentence, Yan Shou struck a palm at the top of Chuyi’s head.
Blood came out from Chuyi’s mouth and nose. He fell down in silence before he could even make a sound.
“Chuyi!!!” The abbot let out a heart-rending scream —— his eyes looked like they might burst out. Without a second thought, he carried the sword and threw himself at Yan Shou.
Yan Shou didn’t move, but Xiao Se did.
The fan in Xiao Se’s hand unfolded instantly. Blades popped out from the tips of its frame, flashing chilling cold gleams. With a flip of the wrist, the fan automatically flew towards the abbot and circled around him as if it was conscious.
The abbot’s heart was so full of grief that he started to lose control over his sword. Back then when he was still in the Jade Cloud Sect, he was said to have mediocre aptitude and would idle all day long, unwilling to practice hard. Therefore, he could never master the last few moves of the “Nineteen Sword Stances of the Eastern Mountain”. No matter what he did, he could not please the seniors.
However, if those long deceased elders of the Jade Cloud Sect could see his sword arts right now, they would be completely astounded.
How was it possible that this man only had a mediocre aptitude?
As the sword light expanded continuously, the blade itself also rippled with dazzling radiance. If Chuyi was here, he would have definitely shouted, “Master, I’ve never seen you look so mighty before!”
But Chuyi was dead.
He would never speak again, never annoy other people, and never slack off shamelessly.
The abbot’s eyes were now bloodshot. Every attack of his was filled with chilling killing intent.
But his sword light could not even break through the blades on Xiao Se’s fan before it was fended off.
A momentary lack of vigilance resulted in the fan blade leaving a long cut on his wrist. He couldn’t help but loosen his hand.
The sword fell to the ground with a clang.
As Xiao Se withdrew his fan, he shoved his elbow at the other person’s chest and, while the abbot retreated, grabbed his shoulder, dragged him forward and instantly locked the three vital acupoints on his chest. The abbot fell onto his knees and was unable to move.
“You saw it. I wasn’t joking with you. Your disciple is already dead, and I’m sure you don’t want to follow his example, right?” Xiao Se said with a smile, “Is Shen Qiao really so charming that you are willing to risk your life to cover him like this?”
The abbot spat blood foam at him and cursed, “What Shen Qiao? Or Zhang Qiao? Or whoever it is! I said I don’t know him. Do you not understand the human language?!”
The smile on Xiao Se’s face faded. He took out a handkerchief from his sleeve and slowly wiped off the blood foam on his face. All of a sudden, he attacked, and there went off the abbot’s left ear. It was so fast that the others had no time to react.
The abbot who was muted by him could not even let out a scream. All he could do was to open his mouth wide and glare at him desperately with a pair of round eyes.
Xiao Se knelt down to bring their eyes to an equal height. “You’ve seen the Harmony Sect’s means of doing things. Is risking your life for Shen Qiao really worth it? Tell us where he is, and I’ll let you live. This will bring good to both of us.”
After quite some time, he finally unmuted the abbot.
The abbot panted hard. The wound which was once his ear was still bleeding. He appeared to be so messed up that it was too pitiful to look at him.
“I said…I don’t know Shen Qiao!”
Bai Rong suddenly smiled, “Senior Brother Xiao, why waste time on him? If he wants to hide someone, it has to be inside the monastery. Why don’t we just search around?”
She then said to Yan Shou, “There’s no need to trouble Elder Yan for something like this. Senior Brother Xiao and I will do it.”
Yan Shou neither spoke nor moved. It was a tacit approval.
Bai Rong first entered the room which the abbot had come out from. After a brief moment, she came back out and said, “I don’t see any mechanisms inside. They can’t be hiding in there.”
Xiao Se searched several other places and didn’t find anything either.
Despite its wretched and dilapidated state, the monastery was quite large in terms of square meters. If a person were to hide themselves in some nook, it would require some time to find them, let alone the fact that old monasteries like this were often built with secret emergency exits.
Yan Shou was getting impatient and didn’t want to waste more time on this. “I’ll give you fifteen minutes. Tell us or you will die.”
The abbot still didn’t say anything.
Fifteen minutes passed quickly. Bai Rong and Xiao Se returned one after the other, both saying that they didn’t find anything.
Xiao Se casted a sidelong glance at Bai Rong. “Sister Bai, there were quite a few places where you were in charge of searching. I remember you have a special relationship with Shen Qiao. Could it be that you saw something, but you deliberately lied about it?”
Bai Rong wasn’t triggered by it. In fact, she even laughed out loud, “Senior Brother Xiao, that was a very strange thing to say. What kind of relationship can I have with him? If you were referring to the fact that we fought against each other before, then I’d say Brother Xiao also has a special relationship with Shen Qiao. Wouldn’t you agree?”
Yan Shou frowned, “You two, quit it!”
He turned to the abbot and asked, “Are you going to tell us or not?”
The abbot sneered coldly, “You heartless, frantic bastards! I don’t know who Shen Qiao is, but even if I do, I wouldn’t tell you either for the sake of you murdering my disciple and treating me like this! You think you can do whatever you want just because you’re skilled in martial arts… The hell it is! Kill me if you can. One day, you’ll have to pay for it…!”
Before he could finish, Yan Shou had already struck a palm on his head.
The abbot’s skull cracked. Blood flowed down his head, passed the pair of eyes that continued glaring at Yan Shou, and in the end disappeared into his collar.
He died with his eyes open, evidence of his remaining grievance.
The dead bodies of the master and his disciple were only a few inches away, but they could never be any closer.
Yan Shou didn’t even look at the corpse. He turned straight to Bai Rong and asked, “Did you really not find anything?”
His sharp, penetrating gaze didn’t seem to affect Bai Rong at all as she was still wearing that happy smile. “I really didn’t. Why don’t Elder Yan and Brother Xiao go search again if you don’t believe me? Maybe I missed something.”
Inside the basement, Shen Qiao and Shiwu’s acupoints were already unlocked. The latter was trembling all over, his face covered in tears.
Shen Qiao put his hand tightly over Shiwu’s mouth, preventing him from making any sound. Even though he had been crying himself, he still used all of his strength to drag Shiwu with him as he backed up towards the opposite direction.
In the beginning, Shiwu struggled hard. Until the abbot was killed, he seemed to have suddenly lost the last bit of his strength and allowed himself to be dragged away by Shen Qiao without putting up any more fights.
The two of them staggered and tumbled down the dark passage. Shen Qiao hadn’t recovered from the serious injury —— his meridians weren’t even fully repaired yet. Dragging a person like Shiwu who wasn’t much lighter in weight than himself was almost like having his flesh being pulled by metal chains —— Every step required a life’s worth of strenuous effort.
He didn’t know how long they walked. It might not have been long, but Shen Qiao felt like he had walked over half of his life.
His hands trembled slightly as they pushed open the stone door which had been sealed for no-one-knows how many years. He pulled Shiwu out of the tunnel, searched the grass for the hidden switch, and then closed the door from outside as the abbot told him to.
This way, even if Yan Shou and the others found out about the secret passage and tracked it all the way till the end, they wouldn’t be able to open the stone door from within.
The secret passage led to the foothill on the other side of the White Dragon Mountain. It would give them enough time to either find a place to hide or to escape unhurriedly.
After he was done with all of these, Shen Qiao let go of Shiwu. He leaned against a rock and coughed uncontrollably. There was not even one part of his body that didn’t hurt. As if he had just gone through a series of cruel tortures, he didn’t even have the strength to stand up. Only after he spat out a few mouthfuls of blood was he finally able to breathe a little more smoothly.
He turned to Shiwu. The boy was still immersed in extreme sorrow. He curled up, holding his knees against his chest, and buried his face into them, shivering as he cried.
Shen Qiao heaved a sigh and stroked his head, “I’m sorry. Brother Zhu and Chuyi wouldn’t have died if it wasn’t for me. Let’s leave this place first, okay? Even if it’s for their sake. When everything is safe again, you can choose to kill me or beat me. I’ll let you do whatever you want.”
Shiwu lifted his head as he cried, “Master and Chuyi can never come back to life, right?”
There were tears in Shen Qiao’s eyes, but he clenched his teeth and managed to hold them back. His heart stirred. Once again, he felt blood welling up in his throat.
“Yes, they can never come back to life, but they wish you a good life. You’re not doing them justice if you let yourself fall into those people’s hands just like that.”
Shiwu said nothing more and only shed tears in silence. After a long time, he stumbled to his feet and said, “You’re right! I need to live on. I can’t let my master worry for me… Where are we heading?”
Shen Qiao took a deep breath and said hoarsely, “To the east. To the Jade Cloud Sect. I’m taking you back to your sect and its forefathers.”
He took out from his bosom what the abbot had given him. It was a small piece of wooden plank with “Jade Cloud Sect” engraved on one side and the character “Zhu” on the other —— it was probably the abbot’s proof of identity when he was still in the Jade Cloud Sect.
Shen Qiao slowly ran his fingers over the plank a couple times, then handed it to Shiwu. “This is what your master left you. Keep it safe.”
Shiwu looked dearly at it for a while before carefully putting it in his bosom. He felt it with his hand a few times afterwards as if he was afraid that he would lose it due to momentary carelessness.
Shen Qiao grabbed his hand. The two of them waded through the weeds and continued forward.
Behind them, the tiny stone gate was completely covered by layers of dense vegetation as if it never existed.
Tears once more streamed down Shiwu’s cheeks.
Shen Qiao held his hand tightly.
The Jade Cloud Sect was located on Mount Tai, while Mount Tai was located in Dongping County. In order to get to Dongping County, they could go straight through Province Ji, but Shen Qiao was afraid that people from the Harmony Sect would predict where they were going, so he brought Shiwu south to Liang Prefecture. It was a long detour, almost doubling the distance.
Shiwu became quiet and reserved. He was no longer that shy and friendly boy he once was and rarely spoke even when he met others. Shen Qiao knew what his knot was, but it wasn’t something that other people could help with. All he could do was to wait for Shiwu to get over it himself.
The abbot had kept some copper coins in the basement. It wasn’t much, but as long as they scrimped, it was enough to cover them all the way to Dongping County.
The two of them hastened on during the day and lodged in cities for the night. If they couldn’t find a city, they would at least try to find a lively town. Like the old saying stated, there was no better place to hide oneself than noisy fairs. They were less likely to be found out when there were lots of people.
When they arrived at west Prefecture Yan, it was already dark, so Shen Qiao found themselves an inn to stay. He and Shiwu shared the same room. He let Shiwu have the bed, while he himself made his bed on the floor and started practicing his inner power.
After rebuilding his foundation with The Strategy of the Vermillion Yang, Shen Qiao entered a brand new world that he had never known before.
The world seemed to be tiny in terms of space, but even the most extreme details were clear to one’s eyes. Only in such quietness and peace did the subtlety of the metaphysical finally manifest itself.
Inner qi flowed through Shen Qiao’s damaged meridians with a slight amount of pain. However, as if it had brought with it the power of regeneration, even the various serious wounds from the past began to repair themselves.
This was the true secret and profoundness of The Strategy of the Vermillion Yang.
Within the distance his inner vision could reach, the tree bathed in the glory of the morning sun while the moon gradually set behind the roof. Under their magnificent glow and energy, there were plum flowers blooming secretly.
Juque, Zhongting, Huagai, Xuanji —— one by one, all the damaged and clotted meridians and acupoints were cleared once again. The agony and dull pain which had been silted up in his chest were also disappearing little by little.
Shen Qiao’s eyes were tightly closed. He was totally unaware that another pair of eyes had peering at him from the side.
Wrapped inside his blanket, Shiwu, who should have fallen asleep a long time ago, laid on bed motionlessly, pretending to be asleep. But his eyes quietly opened into slits.
When he saw Shen Qiao who had been perfectly fine up to this point suddenly spit out a mouthful of blood, the look on his face changed. He laid aside all other fears, lifted the blanket, jumped off the bed and quickly ran to Shen Qiao’s side.
“How do you feel? Are you alright?”
Shen Qiao opened his eyes. He shook his head and smiled, “This is static blood. It’s better to spit it out.”
Teardrops glistened in Shiwu’s eyes. “I know you didn’t buy any medicine the whole journey just to save money. When I saved you, you were injured so badly that you were on the edge of death!”
“It was true that not buying medicine was part of the plan to save money, but right now I can slowly recover using my inner power. Medicine doesn’t make a difference anymore.”
Shen Qiao gently patted him on the head, “Really. I promised your master to take good care of you. I won’t leave you alone.”
Suddenly, Shiwu threw his arms around Shen Qiao and started wailing, “I-I didn’t mean to treat you coldly. I’m just, I’m just very sad!”
Shen Qiao’s eyes were misty. “I know.”
He patted Shiwu gently on the back. “I’m sorry.”
Shiwu shook his head, “Don’t say you are sorry. It’s not your fault.”
Shen Qiao pulled a bitter smile, “How is it not my fault? They were coming after me, but it ended up implicating all of you.”
“They’re so cruel. Even if you weren’t there, they would still kill Master as long as they thought he was hiding you. Master chose to save you just like I chose to save you. Neither of us blamed you for it, so don’t blame yourself, all right? It is the bad guys that deserve punishment, not the good ones.”
It both pained and grieved Shen Qiao to hear it. He thought to himself, ‘Brother Zhu, your spirit should be able to rest in peace knowing how sensible and thoughtful Shiwu is.’
He asked Shiwu, “Do you want to learn martial arts?”
Shiwu nodded, “I want to be good at martial arts, so I can get revenge for master and Chuyi.”
“Before we get to the Jade Cloud Sect, I will first teach you martial arts from Mount Xuandu on our way. What do you think?”
Shiwu’s eyes shone, “Mount Xuandu! Are you talking about the Mount Xuandu that is known as the number one Daoist Sect in the world?”
Shen Qiao nodded.
“Mister Shen, are you a disciple of Mount Xuandu?”
Shen Qiao answered with a smile, “Yes. My name is Shen Qiao. I’m a disciple of Qi Fengge, the sixth sect leader of Mount Xuandu.”
“Ah! I-I think I heard the master mention your name before! You were the sect leader, weren’t you?”
Shen Qiao patted him on the head, “Yes, I was. It’s a very complicated story, so I won’t go into the details now. The reason that I came to Ye City this time was to find the disciples of Mount Xuandu who were heading north. Who would have expected that…”
He paused for a second, “Who would have expected that I’d run into Sang Jingxing, and you’re aware of what happened afterwards.”
Shiwu felt a bit awkward, “But Master once said that the martial arts of each sect is their ultimate secret. One cannot learn it unless they join that sect. Since I promised my master that I will go to the Jade Cloud Sect…”
Shen Qiao smiled, “Let it be martial arts from Mount Xuandu or the Jade Cloud Sect, they are there for people to learn. As long as the person teaching it and the person learning it don’t hold sectarian biases themselves, they need not to be restrained by anything else. I’m only teaching you martial arts. You don’t need to acknowledge me as your master.”
He then took out the Griefing Celestial Sword, which had been wrapped by layers of black strips of clothes and disguised as a bamboo stick all this time, and started unwrapping it.
“Griefing…Celestial?” Shiwu curiously read out the seal characters on it.
“When people are suffering,
the nature resonates with such pain,
for plants too are alive and have spirits,
whereas the universe remains immortal for it is unfeeling.”
Shen Qiao spoke slowly. His fingers ran through the sword’s sheath. Suddenly, he grabbed the hilt and quickly drew out the sword. His wrist didn’t seem to move much, but in an instant, a brilliant glow filled the space, as if every corner of the room was now owned by the sword light and a fierce killing intent. One could almost see cranes soaring to the sky and wild geese flying across snowy passes.
But in an instant, the radiance disappeared again.
It was the same room and the same sword, as if the sword was never unsheathed and everything was but Shiwu’s illusion.
Shiwu stood there open-mouthed, gazing stupidly.
Shen Qiao smiled at him, “Go feel that piece of clothing.”
It was Shen Qiao’s coat. He took it off and hung it on the wooden rack because it was raining when they came.
As soon as Shiwu’s finger touched it, he couldn’t help but let out a sound of surprise.
The coat disintegrated into several pieces as it fluttered to the floor.
Everything else in the room remained intact, except for the coat.
Shiwu’s expression could almost be described as petrified.
Shen Qiao asked, “What do you think?”
“This-this is amazing…”
Shen Qiao chuckled, “I mean do you want to learn martial arts from me?”
Shiwu nodded rapidly, “Master Shen, please accept this kowtow from me!”