Chapter 16: Trimming Candles (II)
Afterwards, Duan ChongXuan turned his nostrils up into the air, while his expression was extremely disdaining, like he was in need of a spanking. “Are you guys still not kneeling and calling him daddy?!”
The little bandits’ captain immediately exploded, “Bah! What Cang Ya’s chief disciple? This Elder is actually the Northern Continent’s Emperor himself!”
Duan ChongXuan stared blankly for a moment as his expression became somewhat strange. “No, you’re not.”
Unfortunately, the little bandit squad had already rushed forward.
However, before they even got ten steps away from the three of them, the bandits were already sent flying away. The one leading them was injured especially seriously. In fact, he had smashed into two big trees before finally hitting the ground.
A barrier made out of incorporeal true essence was what had flicked the bandits away.
Luo MingChuan’s figure didn’t even move.
The little bandit squad laid on the ground and threw up blood. Even if they died, they wouldn’t be able to understand how years of robbery experience suddenly lost their effectiveness. How did their cash cow suddenly turn into an iron panel?
The leader of the bandits had already passed the Essence Cleansing Stage, and could be considered as someone who had stepped into the gateway of cultivation. There were also a few people at the Qi Condensation Stage, but they simply didn’t have the potential to progress even further. For a brigand like this at Pan Long mountain range, dealing with caravans that couldn’t request bodyguards or a lone traveller rushing to their destination was more than enough. There was little spiritual energy at Pan Long mountain range, and there were even fewer heavenly materials or earthly treasures, so cultivators very rarely came there.
Without a doubt, they had all been lured over by the attractive and moving little golden man.
From the moment when the little bandit squad had raised their feet to the time where they laid defeated on the ground, ten seconds had barely passed. Luo MingChuan turned his head and said, “Let’s go.”
Passing through the sounds of feeble, pained noises and people begging for mercy, the three of them moved on forward.
Like this, at intervals of every ten li1, they came across similar little bandit squads. Even long after it became dark, other bandits still came running at them with lit torches.
Thus, the scene from earlier repeatedly occurred.
Now, Yin BiYue felt that he somewhat understood the reasoning behind Duan ChongXuan’s actions.
However, if he was doing this just to add to Luo MingChuan’s troubles and find fault with him, then this method was truly too crude.
Then, what exactly did the chatterbox want to do?
It couldn’t be because he wanted to rid the mountain of bandits and seek justice on behalf of the heavens, right?
After nightfall, it finally became more peaceful.
The pure yet cold-looking moonlight passed through the murky shadows of trees and spilled onto the ground. The night breeze from the evening time of spring also added some chilliness.
The three of them found a secluded cave. Duan ChongXuan ignited a seal that lit up and then swept the light around the spiderwebs and dried weeds. Then, he took out a Cleansing Evil Pearl and embedded it onto the wall of the cave. In no time, gentle light immediately flowed and illuminated the cave.
Luo MingChuan and Yin BiYue prepared to sit and meditate.
Duan ChongXuan also took out a large, poster bed made out of red sandalwood, with carved flowers and covered in cotton silk, before saying, “Fourth senior-apprentice brother, I have another spare bed, do you want it?”
Yin BiYue had originally thought he had long adapted to Duan ChongXuan’s strange style, but right now, he still couldn’t resist the twitch at the corner of his mouth. “No need.”
In a rather regretful tone, Duan ChongXuan said, “Oh”, before he got onto his bed and went to sleep.
The shadow of the moon sat in the west. In a tilting manner, they illuminated the cave and began reflecting with the brilliance of the Cleansing Evil Pearl.
With the tranquilness of the night, the only sounds left were the cries of animals and insects, and the rustling sounds of the forest as the wind blew through them.
The cave wasn’t very big, so the meditating Yin BiYue and Luo MingChuan were only three chi2 away from each other.
In the cultivation world, this was the distance that would offend someone the least.
If the other party was a stranger, staying less than three chi close to them was something extremely rude.
If the other party was an enemy, being less than three chi away from them implied danger.
Yin BiYue felt a bit uncomfortable.
He didn’t know whether or not it was the reflexes that were left in this body, or if it was himself being on guard.
After entering the Soul Manifestation stage, a cultivator’s five senses became extremely keen. Even if one was not being deliberate, they could still feel the exhalation and inhalation of the person beside them. In fact, he could even sense the slightly cool night’s various……temperatures.
As time elapsed and the sky gradually sank in colour, this kind of feeling was magnified by a few times.
He did not know whether or not the Luo MingChuan, who had always adhered to the rules and etiquette, was as uncomfortable as he was. Or perhaps, the other was immersed in his meditative breathing and had entered his best state. Maybe Luo MingChuan was already planning on taking out a spiritual stone to begin cultivating. After all, he was a spiritual cultivator, so he would always bring spiritual stones with him.
On the contrary, Luo MingChuan was recalling the past.
He felt that this kind of feeling was extremely familiar, as if they had returned to the Night Library of the Lan Yuan Academy. The icily arrogant and silent teenager sat at the table in front of him, where the slightly yellow halo emanating from the green lamp fell upon the side of his face. Ineffably, it caused people to see an illusion of tenderness.
And as for himself?
Luo MingChuan was once again sitting at the table beside this teenager. Like Yin BiYue, he had a lit lamp, and his table was also home to a pile of thick scrolls.
When he got tired of reading, Luo MingChuan would look at the other boy.
Although the teenager had an air of childishness because of his facial features, he was still very good-looking. If Luo MingChuan got to steal more glances of him, it felt as if he could relieve his tiredness. Yin BiYue had always been single-mindedly devoted to studying, so he had never discovered Luo MingChuan’s small, bad habit.
The Night Library and the Book Collection Pavilion were connected by a hallway in the air. Some books weren’t permitted to be checked out. They were books that needed to be finished in a single night, so students would go there to read them.
Luo MingChuan didn’t frequently visit that place. However, every time he did go, it seemed like he would always see this teenager there, sitting in his regular seat under the window in the West.
Sometimes, he couldn’t help but break into chuckles, “Junior-apprentice brother, ah. You are still so young, frequently pulling all-nighters mean you won’t grow tall.”
This sentence, he had thought countless times in his heart, but he had never spoken it out loud.
Because the teenager seemed to really hate people saying he was young.
For students who studied at night, when they became too tired, they would often chat a few sentences in a low tone to their neighbour. This could allow one to freshen up and perhaps also make a new friend.
However, although he and this teenager sat at adjacent tables numerous times, they had never spoken to each other even once.
They hadn’t talked because there was never a tired expression on this teenager’s face, and more importantly, he never showed the intent of speaking.
Thus, Luo MingChuan became unable to take the liberty of bothering him.
Until one time, the teenager stared at his green lamp, before slightly furrowing his brows.
The Academy advocated simplicity, so they didn’t have bronze oil lamps. However, when a green lamp was lit for a long time, the lampwick would split in half and the light would dim.
Luo MingChuan glanced at him and couldn’t help but start laughing. In a soft and low voice, he asked, “This junior-apprentice brother, did you forget to bring candle scissors?”
The teenager inclined his head toward him. The black and white of his pupils and eyes looked distinct, reflecting the warm yellow of the candle light as the icy arrogance from daytime subsided, “Yes.”
In response, Luo MingChuan stood up to help him cut his candle. He slightly leaned over the other’s body, long hair hanging down like a curtain. He was close enough to the teenager to see the delicate shadows created by his fluttering eyelashes. The shadows of the two people were imprinted on the window in the West, looking as if they had combined into one.
A moment later, the table became as brightly lit as before. Luo MingChuan also retreated to a polite distance.
The teenager nodded at him, “Many thanks.”
“Junior-apprentice brother is too polite,” Luo MingChuan set down his candle scissors and then introduced himself, “I am from the Eastern Continent’s Qiongzhou3, Luo MingChuan.”
“Central Continent’s Ying An4 City, Yin BiYue.”
These were the first words they had spoken to each other, even after entering the Academy for an entire year. It was also some of the very few words they said to each other within their three years at the Academy.
Light and darkness intertwined within the Night Library. The accumulated scrolls and thick documents lying within a folder remained untouched, and the light from the green lamp exploded outward, resembling a blossoming flower.
Time stopped at that very moment.
Yin BiYue thought Luo MingChuan must be feeling uncomfortable too, because his aura was unstable.
Fortunately, it was already three quarters into Mao Shi5, and the sky was slightly lightening up. Holding his sword, Yin BiYue walked out of the cave.
A morning breeze brushed past his face, blowing away his confused feelings that had lasted an entire night.
Daybreak was about to arrive. It was precisely a good time to practice one’s sword.
- 里 (lǐ): li, ancient measure of length, approx. 500 m.
- 尺 (chǐ): Chinese foot, one third of a meter.
- 琼州 (Qióngzhōu): Either a fictional version of Qiongzhou, the historic name for Hainan Island, or Jade (Qiong) River (Zhou).
- 颍安 (YǐngĀn): Ying means grain husk, An means calm.
- Mao Shi is 5AM-7AM, so this is around 6:30AM.