Chapter 20: Trading Letters
Yin BiYue had practically forgotten he still possessed this ‘Little Halo Assistant’ thing.
Ever since he had used it once in the Cang Ya dungeons, it had never appeared again. Specific circumstances apparently had to be reached before it would be triggered.
There also wasn’t anything great about his only experience with it. When it was activated, he could only make expressions and movements under the control of an intangible force.
By now, Luo MingChuan had already looked over again as he started sizing Yin BiYue up.
Silently, Yin BiYue clenched his teeth……
“We reached Xian Gang1!”
Duan ChongXuan shouted loudly in excitement. After letting go of the cart curtain, he withdrew his body. “Fourth senior-apprentice brother, we’re about to cross the ocean!”
The awkward atmosphere in the cart was instantly obliterated.
Yin BiYue nodded his head slightly, indicating that he understood.
No, no, no! Use it now my ass!!
‘Ding——You have already given up the opportunity to use the Little Halo Assistant. Please note, there are still two activation chances remaining. The Little Assistant, a great friend. For life’s difficult predicaments, this assistant can help mend!2’
No! If it was possible, Yin BiYue never wanted to use it ever again!
As Yin BiYue stared at the chatterbox’s excited face, he felt that he truly didn’t understand. Why was it that a normally ordinary person (not) became so abnormally excited the moment he left the Sect, as if he had been shot with some chicken blood3?
Duan ChongXuan was actually able to maintain the same posture while looking outside for that long?
Was the view really that nice?
At this moment, the coachman made a long hush. When the cart stopped, he smiled and said, “These lords, we have arrived in Xian Gang!”
Duan ChongXuan took the lead and hopped off the cart. He slapped an ingot of silver into the coachman’s hand.
The coachman looked awkward, “Lord, I can’t give you your change.”
Chatterbox Duan heroically waved his hand, “No need for change!”
Promptly after that, he impatiently walked forward with large strides.
The moment Yin BiYue got off the cart, what he saw first was the chatterbox’s pleased back. In his heart, Yin BiYue thought that if this guy had a tail, it definitely had to be rapidly wagging right now.
It was really……embarrassing.
Fortunately, they hadn’t worn their Cang Ya Mountain robes. And fortunately, the words ‘Sword Saint’s Disciples’ weren’t written on their faces.
Luo MingChuan had been the last one to get off the cart. After giving the coachman a ‘many thanks’, he began following behind Yin BiYue as they walked forward.
The moist and salty sea breeze assaulted one’s senses.
Xian Gang was the number one big harbour on the south side of the Western Continent, in which every day brought forth more dealings. There were hundreds of ships that either dropped their anchors to enter the harbour, or were perhaps ready to sail and take off.
From sunrise till sunset, every moment was similar to being in a boiling cauldron of voices4. After nightfall, the lighthouse on the harbour illuminated the dark waves that rushed forth on the sea surface. In addition, it illuminated the faces of people waiting for a ship to return from a distant location.
At this time, it was merely dusk. The remaining afterglow of the sun plated ten thousand rays of light onto the ocean. Distantly, one could spot the thin line that separated the sky from the water. Even the few seabirds that spiraled about were dyed a scarlet gold by the sunset glow.
Before one’s eyes, the stormy waves crashed against the shore and surged forward with great momentum.
Raging flames at the end of the sky spun around, swallowing the heavens and devouring the earth.
Standing at the pier, Duan ChongXuan looked into the distance. The sleeves of his robes swayed with the wind as his eyes glittered.
Yin BiYue could practically visualize his heart’s OS5:
It’s almost time to go on the ship! When I think about it, I even feel a bit excited ah! \(≧▽≦)/~
……What the hell.
Compared to their upcoming and extremely long maritime voyage, the previous part of their journey couldn’t be considered as anything much. If no mishaps occur, they would have to sail at sea for half a month. Ultimately, they would climb ashore at the Southern Continent’s Bai Jing6 Port before heading toward Ye7 City.
When Yin BiYue thought of how the chatterbox might never want to travel by ship again after this experience, he couldn’t help but pity him.
Just as in the past, the pier was bustling with noise and excitement. Shouts, greetings, and the work chants of the boatman moving goods were all mixed together.
Throughout the vast and imposing pier, the most eye-catching thing was the four-storey, nine-mast ship. Aboard it, a middle-aged man wearing brown, weather-beaten clothes stood on the deck as he directed the boatman to unload cargo. That person’s voice was similar to a big bell. There was radiance shining in his eyes, and the aura surrounding him did not appear to be that of an ordinary mortal’s.
Yin BiYue looked over with rapt attention and discovered that this man was a Essence Cleansing stage cultivator. Generally speaking, he was the leader of this pier’s largest fleet.
It was evident that Luo MingChuan had came to the same conclusion as he did. After using some true essence, he leapt up before gracefully dropping down onto the big ship that was four zhang8 tall. This made everyone who had been transporting cargo on the ship cry out in alarm. After dispersing in a flurry, they began curiously, yet also respectfully and cautiously, sizing Luo MingChuan up.
The leader of the fleet approached to welcome him, before giving him a polite greeting.
From afar, Yin BiYue saw Luo MingChuan say a few sentences to that man. The man had originally looked very enthusiastic, but afterwards, he forced a bitter smile and began explaining something. Then, Luo MingChuan cupped his hands in a salute and said a word of thanks, before he leapt off the boat and began walking back to them.
In his mind, Yin BiYue felt very astonished. Normally, no matter what kind of fleet it was, they were all very willing to take along some cultivators. Although ships with excellent equipment had artillery with immense and formidable power, cultivators made a move far more quickly. And should the ship encounter sea beasts or pirates, cultivators could lend an additional helping hand.
In addition, Luo MingChuan brought his jade tablet from Cang Ya Mountain. It was reasonable to think that he ought to have been well-received.
However, it didn’t take long for Yin BiYue to understand what had happened. Luo MingChuan explained in a helpless tone, “The sailor said that for the past few days, a group of local sea creatures abruptly headed toward Fu Kong9 Ocean. The boat that had set off four days ago sent back a message just yesterday saying how it was badly damaged. Everyone’s afraid that this is an auspicious sign, so no boats will sail for the next ten or so days.”
Duan ChongXuan stared at the surface of the sea. His expression did not change, and he did not appear to be even the slightest bit worried.
But Yin BiYue was secretly alarmed. According to the migration pattern of the Fu Kong Ocean’s sea beast group from prior years, this ought to have occurred during the latter third of the eighth month. However, currently, it was merely the fifth month of the lunar year. This was truly an event violating common sense.
At present, there were two paths they could now take. The three of them could either find a place to live within Xian Gang’s city and wait for those ten days to pass before setting out by ship, or they could change their route. If they decide to change their route, they would have to turn back and pass through the snow field that merged the Western and Southern Continents.
Very evidently, the former was the more sensible option.
However, Yin BiYue suddenly realized. Perhaps, there was still a third path?
A small child wearing a red coat stood under the white lighthouse. With an ignorant expression, the red, silk ribbon wrapped around his twin buns swayed upward with the sea breeze.
This was precisely the boy who had guided Yin BiYue around the Academy a couple of months ago.
The young child also caught sight of them. After revealing a happy smile, he began jogging over.
With a smile, he told Yin BiYue, “Sure enough, the Director had been right. Senior-apprentice brother is really here.”
Luo MingChuan had never seen this boy before, so he looked a bit startled. However, he immediately guessed the identity of the aforementioned ‘Director’.
From within his sleeves, the young child took out three pieces of thin paper10 that had been folded into perfect squares. “The Director said he was afraid the three of you will encounter an inconvenience while crossing the ocean, and thus sent me over to give these three senior-apprentice brothers a letter.”
As he said this, the child handed each of them a letter.
Luo MingChuan received his with both hands. “I’ll be troubling you to help me thank the Director.”
Their senior had bestowed them this, so it could not be rejected.
What’s more, it had been something granted by the Academy Director.
“To brave the wind and the billows, to climb the mountain and pick the flower. Thereby, with this specially prepared letter, it is possible to change one’s direction. Distance from the desired destination does not matter, for the distance will warp to fit the individual. The Academy Director.”
Yin BiYue looked at the upright characters written in Tai style on the letter made with Xue Lang11 paper. The ink paste of the familiar, red seal slightly protruded from the surface.
It seemed like regardless of where they were in the world, they were always within the Director’s grasp.
Was this the remarkable ability of a Sage?
Recognizing this fact made Yin BiYue feel uneasy.
Were the other Sages in the world also as omniscient as the Director?
Duan ChongXuan asked, “Where would this card lead us?”
“The Director said you would end up outside the northern part of Ye City.”
Yin BiYue secretly nodded in satisfaction.
There was a deserted, barren hill outside the northern part of Ye City. There wasn’t any danger there, and it was unlikely for them to attract attention. It was also very close to Zhong Ming Mountain.
The little child was just about to salute and take his leave when it looked as if he had suddenly thought of something. He turned toward Duan ChongXuan and said, “The Director also asked, is your esteemed father still well?”
Duan ChongXuan blanked out for a moment. Then, before he even breathed in, he immediately replied, “Very well, his body is healthy and his spirit is full of vigor. On his horse, he can even ride around the field ten times without panting. When he practices archery, he’s still as accurate as he was twenty years ago. Everyday, he would eat four big bowls of Southern Continent’s white grain, and it’s even less likely he would ever miss his nightly pastry snacks. Many thanks to the Director for constantly thinking of him.”
The young child carefully listened to his words. After Duan ChongXuan finished talking, he didn’t ask any more. Instead, he saluted the three of them, before his figure disappeared into thin air.
Yin BiYue felt it was awfully strange. The way the Director had phrased his question was strange, and the way the chatterbox answered had been strange as well.
To make even the Director ask after him, Duan ChongXuan’s father was bound to be someone out of the ordinary. This was something Yin BiYue had long guessed before. So much that he had even thought up disgraceful plotbunnies like the chatterbox being the Sword Saint’s illegitimate child.
However, even if he was out of the ordinary, why did the chatterbox even have to mention how many bowls of food he ate?
Unless, the Director had meant something like, ‘Lian Po in his old age, can he still eat?’12?
“Twenty years ago……how old are you? To still remember……”
To still remember your esteemed father’s heroic appearance in archery during that year?
Duan ChongXuan said matter-of-factly, “Of course I had made all of that up! It’s been three years and I haven’t even gotten a single letter from him, who knows if he’s well or not well.”
……Once again, Yin BiYue was left completely speechless.
Yin BiYue looked at the letters in all three of their hands. There were three of the same style and looked exactly the same.
He tried concentrating his divine consciousness in an attempt to dissect the lines forming the seal, but he immediately felt stinging pain, as if his divine consciousness was used as a pincushion.
Sure enough, it was too difficult. Since this was the case, it seemed like Yin BiYue didn’t have any other ways.
He gave his own letter to Luo MingChuan. “Let’s trade.”
Flabbergasted, Duan ChongXuan asked, “Fourth senior-apprentice brother, what’s the matter?”
Luo MingChuan also did not understand. “Junior-apprentice brother?”
There was no explanation, nor a reason behind his action.
Silently, the teenager just stretched out his hand. It appeared as if he would’t give up should Luo MingChuan not take his letter.
The sea breeze whistled, blowing away the hood Yin BiYue wore and revealing the persistence and obstinance within his expression.
Contrasting against his ink-black cloak, his three thousand strands of white hair appeared all the more dazzling.
Yin BiYue once again repeated his words. Both the sea waves and the sound of the wind hadn’t been able to make him waver the slightest. “Let’s trade.”
- 岘港 (Xiàngǎng): means ‘steep hill harbour’. Also means Danang from Vietnam, but since this is set in a cultivational ancient China setting, I doubt that’s what it is.
- This is supposed to rhyme like this, it’s supposed to be like a commercial’s jingle hahaha. Excuse my elementary poetry skills 😂
- This refers to chicken-blood therapy, which had been a form of pseudo-medical therapy in China in like the 1960s. Basically, it involved shooting patients with chicken blood, and people claimed it made patients very aggressive and strong.
- Idiom for hubbub.
- The OS here is shortform for ‘overlapping sound’ but in English. It’s Chinese slang for inner monologue and is usually seen in manhua/novels.
- 白鲸 (báijīng): white whale, beluga.
- 叶 (Yè): Leaf.
- 丈 (zhàng): a unit of measurement, approximately ten Chinese feet (3.3m).
- 浮 (fú): float/unstable/transient.
空 (kōng): empty/air/sky.
- 薄纸 is very thin and soft paper, similar to tracing paper but even more thin and translucent.
- It’s one of the best papers where the color doesn’t fake even after hundreds or thousands of years.
- This comes from a story: Lian Po was discharged from his duty in his old age. Then, a rebellion happened and the king sent a messenger to see if Lian Po could come back to fight. And the trial he gave was whether or not Lian Po could still eat a lot because it shows he’s got a healthy body. So Lian Po ended up eating a lot to make the messenger believe he was still healthy, but he had to get to the toilet multiple times in the middle of eating because in reality he wasn’t that healthy anymore. So the question the king asked, ‘Lian Po in his old age, can he still eat?’ means, is he still healthy enough to fight?