Chapter 13: Shackles
It seemed as if the spring breeze of the third month finally possessed some warmth.
Luo MingChuan’s expression became brighter and brighter, until he ultimately revealed a smile.
He hadn’t smiled ever since he had left Yin BiYue’s cell in the dungeon. Thus, this smile, although somewhat shaky, held some foolishness that even he himself wasn’t aware of.
He stood there, looking as if he didn’t know what to do because of Yin BiYue’s unexpected reply. “Junior-apprentice brother, thank you. I——I will definitely keep my promise……”
Liu QiShuang didn’t seem reassured as she asked, “Fourth junior-apprentice brother, have you clearly thought things through?”
Yin BiYue nodded, “Please be at ease, senior-apprentice sister. I know my limits.”
Jun Yu didn’t say anything. He merely furrowed his forehead.
And nobody knew what Duan ChongXuan remembered, but he continued smiling like before as he watched Luo MingChuan.
On the other hand, Yin BiYue’s heart wasn’t nearly as calm as what his expression suggested.
“Nowadays, eight out of ten protagonists blacken as they rush to get revenge. Another one is a yandere with no hopes of recovering. A humble, utterly sincere and righteous protagonist is harder to find compared to trying to find a three! Legged! Frog!”
He inexplicably remembered what that technician had said.
However, if a Holy Mother’s thought process was always this odd, then——
He would rather have an incurable, blackened protagonist.
At the very least, those protagonists knew the lines they needed to say in order to continue the drama.
He didn’t understand what Luo MingChuan was thinking, but if the protagonist wished to invite him, then what was the reason behind not undertaking the journey together?
What’s more, these ‘fellow Peak members that support the villain’ by his side really made one worry till their heart shattered. What did he have to do so they could tactfully achieve the accomplishment of ‘avoid going against the protagonist’?
The past few days, he had been very stressed about this. But now, everything suddenly became clear when he saw Luo MingChuan’s pleasantly surprised expression.
So it turned out that this time’s script was ‘the protagonist was completely devoted to a person, but the villain had the heart of a wolf and the lungs of a dog1. In the first half, they walked together as close friends2, but in the second half there is a betrayal, a falling-out and then someone stabs the other with a dagger’.
Tsk, city people just loved to play around like this.
Yin BiYue pacified his own heart. Sure enough, the plot was still within his grasp.
Hence, the expression he used to look at Luo MingChuan became somewhat better, so much that a smile was revealed in his eyes. “Does senior-apprentice brother Luo still have other matters to discuss?”
It was as if Luo MingChuan finally saw the thawing of the never-melting frost on a mountain ridge shrouded in clouds. And this melted frost became a babbling, clear spring that flowed into his heart.
“No, I don’t……junior-apprentice brother, take a good rest. I will take my leave here.”
Although he said he would take his leave, for some reason, he just stood in place and didn’t move. He stayed like that until Duan ChongXuan coughed once, and only then did he turn around in a panic and leave.
The fellow peak members yet again talked for a while about the arrangements for leaving the peak to travel, before they urged Yin BiYue to go back and rest.
After seeing his figure walk far away, Liu QiShuang said, “You have to take good care of junior-apprentice brother Yin. Don’t let him be deceived by others.”
Duan ChongXuan’s expression was solemn. One wouldn’t be able to make out even the smallest bit of frivolousness as he seriously said, “Don’t worry, senior-apprentice sister. I naturally will.”
When Yin BiYue told her to not worry, of course Liu QiShuang wouldn’t stop worrying.
But when Duan ChongXuan was the one who said that, she immediately knew that even if Luo MingChuan had nasty intentions, he definitely wouldn’t be able to able to take advantage of Yin BiYue.
Jun Yu didn’t say anything.
And thus, this matter was settled like this.
After the trip to the Academy, Yin BiYue finally found a method to practice using his sword. Afterwards, he began exemplifying what it meant to train all day and night, not daring to slack off even the slightest bit. He felt that he could already faintly see the threshold of the ‘Revelation’ stage. Thus, he could only regret that time couldn’t pass a bit slower, so that he could make sure his swordplay was even more skilled and that his realm was more stable.
However, in the blink of an eye, one month’s time hurriedly passed, until it was already almost the day they needed to set off. One day before their departure, Yin BiYue decided to go see eldest senior-apprentice brother and second senior-apprentice sister, a meeting that could be considered as his goodbye.
Jun Yu was not in his ‘Primary Courtyard’. Yin BiYue was drawn to the majestic and boundless sword aura, and thus walked toward the steep cliff behind the courtyard.
Jun Yu was right in the middle of practicing his swordsmanship. He held a dried-up branch in one hand, and the Sword Art he was currently practicing was one the Sword Saint had created, ‘Little Heavy Mountain’.
Yin BiYue stood ten zhang3 away. He felt that Jun Yu’s current sword intent was practically blazing, as if the sword had already entered the optimal stage. Thus, he stopped in his place and didn’t move forward, to avoid disturbing him.
In the next moment, it was like a mountain had suddenly appeared in front of him. The mountain closed in on him, pressuring one until they couldn’t even breathe.
Yin BiYue mobilized his true essence in order to withstand the sword aura. At the same time, he carefully watched Jun Yu with rapt attention.
He stood near the edge of the cliff, where one could see dense green hills filled with weeds while taking in the mountain’s topography.
Similar to when Yin BiYue practiced his swordsmanship beside the ice-cold pond, he had borrowed the water to temper his sword ‘River’s Reliance’’s strength. One’s mental state, martial arts, swordsmanship, and sword’s strength all conformed with the heavens and earth. They were shaped by one’s will, and were slowly moulded to what one wished.
The morning breeze blew around the drifting mist under the steep cliff, while the radiance of the sun helped add on a golden rim to the mountain peaks far away.
A myriad of crisscrossing golden light rays condensed upon the dried-up branch, converging together to form the current of a river. This current could cut into a mountain and split apart rock, and was something that advanced forward courageously. There was an imposing sound of waves eroding the plains and hills thousands of miles away, ultimately merging quietly with the great sea.
He didn’t know how much time had passed, but Jun Yu soon collected his sword strength. The man stood near the edge of the cliff, and nodded at him from this distance.
Black robes and ink-black hair. The sleeves of his clothes flew in harmony with the wind.
So it turned out that there weren’t some golden rays of light. There wasn’t a river current, there weren’t plains or hills, and there wasn’t a great sea.
There were only the green hills filled with weeds, ones unchanged since times immemorial, tenacious and silent.
Everything else was all merely imagery created with the sword.
Yin BiYue snapped out of his daze. He stepped forward and saluted Jun Yu, “I’ve disturbed senior-apprentice brother.”
But to one’s surprise, Jun Yu directly asked, “How was it?”
Yin BiYue was startled for a moment, before he realized the other man was asking him his opinion on the Sword Art Jun Yu just practiced.
He pondered for a moment, “Senior-apprentice brother has already managed to reach the pinnacle of the Little Heavy Mountain, and was able to stand at the edge of the cliff while viewing the surrounding mountains unobstructed. It can be assumed that when it comes to the true meaning of this Sword Art, senior-apprentice brother had long understood it very clearly.”
His words weren’t composed of praise, because Jun Yu’s swordsmanship was truly very good.
Even if Jun Yu had just used a dried-up branch, and didn’t bring his true essence into play. Just his sword aura alone had been sufficient enough to make Yin BiYue feel a sense of uneasiness, as if there was a thorn in his back.
This was the gap between cultivation realms. Even more, it was the disparity between their swordsmanship levels.
However, Jun Yu said, “Everyday, I wave my sword sixty-three thousand times. But despite that, I have not advanced in three years.”
Only then did Yin BiYue understand that the other man was trying to exchange tips with him on improving cultivation.
That wasn’t very surprising. On Xi Hua Peak, only the two of them practiced the sword.
Although, the realm gap between them was truly a big bit, so Jun Yu actually really thought highly of him.
The mistakes within the swordplay of a cultivator that was a half step away from the Immortalization realm naturally couldn’t be found by a cultivator at the Enlightenment stage. However, when all was said and done, Yin BiYue’s experience was rich and plentiful. In addition, he could already faintly sense where Jun Yu’s shackles were located.
Ever since Duan ChongXuan had said last time, ‘when eldest senior-apprentice brother fought against that Immortalization realm cultivator, he didn’t even use ‘Spring Mountain Smile,’ Yin BiYue’s heart became full of doubts.
This time, he asked in a straightforward manner, “When eldest senior-apprentice brother practices his swordplay, why don’t you use ‘Spring Mountain Smile’?”
Jun Yu replied instantly, “I have not reached the Immortalization realm, so I do not match that sword.”
Yin BiYue thought, he knew where the problem was now.
These fellow peak members of his had protected him many times, but he had never come across the opportunity to repay them.
Thus, even though he knew the words he was about to say may cause suspicions because of how he was displaying slight skill he shouldn’t have before an expert, he still decided to say it.
He stared into Jun Yu’s eyes, expression serious as he said, “My cultivation realm isn’t high, but I personally believe that only a sword can be a sword. Flower branches and other plants are not swords. Hatchets, axes, hooks and pitchforks are not swords. Thus, only when you hold a sword, can it be considered as one practicing the sword.”
Jun Yu slightly knitted his eyebrows.
Yin BiYue continued to speak, “If it cannot be used as someone’s sword, what is the meaning of a sword? Something to be hidden in a room? Something hung up on a wall, so it could be used to amuse people?”
“In my point of view, ‘Spring Mountain Smile’ is admittedly something good. However, if it is always placed in its wooden box, then it isn’t a heavenly weapon, but your shackles!
It is restricting you!”
His words shot out like a sword, going straight into one’s heart, splitting apart the fog surrounding it.
Jun Yu suddenly lifted his eyes in a flash of understanding. At the same time, sharp sword aura burst out in a boundless manner! Yin BiYue immediately urged all the true essence in his body to the limit, and even then he felt his spiritual energy and blood flare up in excitement.
What happened ended in merely a breath’s time. The revolting aura from the person in front of him once again returned to its usual quiet, as if sinking into the great sea.
Yin BiYue raised his voice, incomparably firm as he exclaimed, “Eldest senior-apprentice brother, have you ever thought that, since Master gave this sword to you, it means that under the Heavens and the Earth, other than you, there is no one who can match this sword!”
Jun Yu gently brushed off his sleeves, as if brushing away dust that could not be seen.
His emotions that he had repressed for many years were now all scattered in the time he brushed off his sleeves.
“Many thanks to junior-apprentice brother.”
Yin BiYue lowered his head. “There is no need for thanks.”
However, Jun Yu was still adamant on saluting him with a bow. Yin BiYue hastily moved sideways to avoid this ceremonial salute.
Jun Yu stood in his original position as he blankly stared at the mountains in the distance.
Yin BiYue announced his departure, before he turned around and left the steep cliff by himself.
He knew that the shackles within Jun Yu’s heart had already been broken. Right now, the man required some time to quietly think things through by himself. The fact that Yin BiYue could see through his problems didn’t mean his swordplay was superior to Jun Yu’s. No, it was merely the principle where the person on the spot was baffled, but the onlooker saw things clearly.
Everyone believed that Jun Yu was very strong, so no one would think that he had shackles.
Even Duan ChongXuan’s tone had been filled with admiration when he mentioned how eldest senior-apprentice brother didn’t need Spring Mountain Smile to fight.
Yin BiYue understood that Jun Yu was indeed very strong. However, his shoulders had to bear too much.
The prestige of the Sword Saint’s chief disciple, the responsibility of the eldest senior-apprentice brother. He was one of the pillars that held up Xi Hua Peak, Cang Ya Mountain, and even the world under the Heavens.
So, why prevent the heavenly weapon ‘Spring Mountain Smile’ from being used?
This world wasn’t as calm as it’s tranquil appearance would suggest.
Because, it had been a long time since communication with the Sword Saint had been lost. There were even some people harbouring unfathomable motives who began to whisper rumours: The Sword Saint is already no longer part of this world.
And Cang Ya Mountain did not have a Sage.
This signified that, should there really be a day where the Sword Saint no longer existed, there was a possibility that Jun Yu would have to go against more than one Sage because he was the one who had the strongest combat ability in Cang Ya Mountain.
When Yin BiYue thought of this, his mood became somewhat heavy. He knew that since he was able to think of this, then many other people would be able to think of this as well. There were even people who could think much farther than him.
So much that they would be able to deduce every kind of ending from a turbulent situation with a hundred thousand different outcomes. For example, that Director from the Academy.