unsheathed – Chapter 77: Entering the Mountains

Chapter 77: Entering the Mountains

Chapter 77: Entering the Mountains

Upon returning to the blacksmith shop, Ruan Xiu discovered her father seated alone on one of the bamboo chairs, and she handed him the flagon of wine, then sat down onto the other chair as she asked, "How did the talk go?"

Ruan Qiong opened the flask, and he didn't even need to drink the wine, all it took was a quick whiff for him to know that this wasn't the wine that he had asked for. A flagon of premium spring peach blossom wine cost two taels of silver, yet this was clearly the cheapest spring peach blossom wine that was sold for eight qian per flagon.

Out of the corner of his eye, he could see Ruan Xiu tugging nervously on the hem of her shirt while looking around with a sheepish expression, clearly afraid of being exposed by her father.

Ruan Qiong could only heave an internal sigh, pretending as if he hadn't noticed the difference at all as he took a swig of wine out of the flagon. "Everything went fine. I'm going to send someone to the kiln supervision office later to ask for a new and old mountain topography chart from Wu Yuan. Once Chen Ping'an's had a chance to think things through, he's most likely going to ask for those charts from me."

Ruan Xiu was very relieved that her ploy hadn't been uncovered, and she smiled as she straightened out her legs and stretched lazily, then leaned against the smooth and cool back of the bamboo chair.

The first step was always the most difficult one to take in any endeavor, and the fact that everything was off to a good start here put Ruan Qiong in quite a good mood. Thus, in a rare display of goodwill, he afforded Chen Ping'an a compliment. "That boy from Clay Vase Alley is quite simple-minded, but he's definitely not stupid."

"Haven't you heard the expression that all wise men appear simple-minded on the surface?" Ruan Xiu asked with a joyful smile.

Ruan Qiong merely smiled in response and offered no reply.

He cast his gaze toward the creek in the distance, then held the neck of the wine flagon between his index finger and his thumb, gently swirling it around as he said, "There are some things that I can't say directly to him because it might lead him to think too much and ruin what would've otherwise been a good thing, so I want you to tell him those things in my stead when you see him tomorrow."

"What would you like me to tell him?" Ruan Xiu asked with a curious expression.

Ruan Qiong was silent for a moment, then took a small swig of wine from the flagon before continuing, "Tell him not to consider purchasing Dragonspine Mountain. Even someone of the Upper Five Tiers wouldn't dare to claim such a mountain if they didn't have any powerful backers.

With such a large slab of Dragon Slaying Platform on the mountain, the Wind Snow Temple and True Martial Mountain were only able to claim the mountain in collaboration with me, and even then, there are still many people that are hiding in the shadows who're green with envy. Of course, you don't have to explain all of that to Chen Ping'an, just tell him directly not to even think of touching Dragon Slaying Platform.

Secondly, the Great Li Empire is only selling a total of 61 mountains this time, and he'll only be able to purchase five at the very most. If he buys any more than that, it'll become very difficult even for me to keep him and his mountains safe.

Thirdly, and this is a decision I've only just made: I'm going to ask for Divine Elegance Mountain, Lamp Bearer Mountain, and Gallant Spear Mountain from the Great Li Empire, so tell him to pay extra attention to the mountains around those three when he's looking at the topography charts.

I'm not an unreasonable person, I won't force him to spend all of his money on mountains near the three that I'm going to claim, all I'm asking is that he spends half of his gold essence copper coins there. However, if he knows what's best for him, then he would prioritize buying more mountains near mine.

Finally, you can tell him that if he ends up with a few copper coins left over after purchasing his mountains, then he should buy a few shops in the town. There are most likely going to be some good shops being sold in the near future because many of the households that have connections to the outside world are most likely going to be moving away.

Hence, the shops won't be very expensive, either, perhaps costing a single copper coin per shop at the very most."

Ruan Xiu's eyes lit up slightly upon hearing this, and she suggested, "How about you buy the pastry shop, Father? I gave you my two pouches of copper coins, right? Can you give me one of those coins? Just a single one will do!"

A stern look appeared on Ruan Qiong's face as he said, "Don't even think about trying to get any of those copper coins out of me. Why don't you ask Chen Ping'an to buy the shop for you? Right now, he's the wealthiest man in the entire town."

"I can't do that! He's so poor that he has to go around borrowing money, even when it's a sum that's fewer than 20 taels of silver," Ruan Xiu immediately objected without any hesitation.

Ruan Qiong's lips twitched slightly, and he exclaimed in an exasperated voice, "Right, so you're willing to spend my money, but not Chen Ping'an's!"

"I don't know him that well," Ruan Xiu chuckled in response.

Ruan Qiong almost threw up a mouthful of blood.

You don't know him that well? In that case, why are you buying this trash wine for your own father just so you can save up money to lend to that bastard? How well do you have to know him before you can borrow money from him?

Ruan Qiong took a big swig of wine to drown out his indignation, then rose to his feet as he said, "In any case, I've said everything that I want to say, it's up to you to relay this message to Chen Ping'an tomorrow."

After that, he turned and departed, knowing full well that his daughter was going to tell Chen Ping'an everything the next day, regardless of whether it was something that she should be telling him or not.

The more Ruan Qiong thought about his situation, the more indignant he felt. He couldn't scold his own daughter, nor could he beat that little bastard. In the end, he could only curse to himself as he made his way to a spot where there was no one else around. Despite how terrible the inferior-quality wine tasted, he still finished the entire thing before throwing the empty flagon away.

After that, he sprang up into the sky, landing in front of the shop where the spring peach blossom wine was sold in the blink of an eye. At this point, the shop was already closed for the day, but he didn't care, and he began pounding forcefully on the door.

It didn't take long before a bleary-eyed woman got out of bed from the backyard, and she immediately erupted into a torrent of abuse, spitting out scathing phrases like "what's the hurry? Are you in a rush to die?", "who would come knocking at this ungodly hour? Why don't you drink some piss instead of wine?", and "keep pounding on my door and I'll break all three of your legs!"

All the while, Ruan Qiong stood in front of the shop's entrance in silence with a dark expression.

Thanks to the light provided by the moon, the woman was able to identify the late-night visitor as Master Ruan, and her entire demeanor instantly took a drastic turn. A seductive look appeared on her face as she latched onto Master Ruan's muscular arm in an extremely warm and hospitable manner.

Having already been a widow for many years, she was like a parched desert thirsty for a rejuvenating storm, and she certainly wasn't going to pass up this opportunity. As she led Master Ruan into her shop, she pretended to stumble so that she could fall into his arms, but unfortunately for her, Master Ruan wasn't having any of her nonsense, gently pushing her away before tossing down some silver, then promptly departed with two flagons of wine.

The woman stood at the entrance of her shop with a mocking expression as she jeered, "To think that such a strong and sturdy man like yourself would be just as soft as your surname! I'm going to charge you two times the price when you come to buy wine from my shop from now on! If you ever harden up someday, maybe I'll let you drink for free and even throw myself in as a bonus!" [1]

Ruan Qiong paid no heed to her insults as he made his way to the end of the street, but instead of returning to his shop in the south, he sprang up into the air before arriving in front of a small mountain in the north.

It was a mountain of smashed porcelain, and Ruan Qiong took a seat on the ground with his legs crossed around 30 meters away from the mountain.

All of a sudden, a voice rang out from nearby "Fancy meeting you here.'

Ruan Qiong nodded in response and tossed a flagon of wine to the owner of the voice.

The old man caught the flagon, then mused, "You visited Widow Liu's shop at this hour? I'm sure she must've had some choice words for you!"

Ruan Qiong naturally didn't want to discuss this subject. Instead, he asked, "Mr. Yang, who was the young boy accompanying the new kiln supervision official, Wu Yuan? I can't get a good read on him, and he looks no different from an ordinary person on the surface."

The old man was none other than Old Man Yang, and he took a swig of wine, then replied, "I don't know who he is, but I'm assuming he's not just here for a holiday, wouldn't you agree?"

After giving that ambiguous reply, Old Man Yang looked up with a smile, and at the summit of the mountain of porcelain was an azure-robed young boy.

The boy's hands were tucked together in his sleeves, and there was a warm smile on his face. It was none other than the boy who had accompanied Wu Yuan to Ruan Qiong's blacksmith shop earlier in the day.

The boy pulled one of his hands out of his sleeve and said, "As the saying goes, one must first knock before entering, and one must first pay respect to the gods before visiting a temple. I visited Master Ruan earlier today, and I'm here to visit Elder Yang now, so I'm following all the rules."

Instead of continuing to drink from his flagon of wine, Old Man Yang pulled out a string and tied the flagon to his waist then took a puff out of his pipe before smiling as he said, "While it's true that you're following the rules, you've still yet to make your intentions clear."

The boy tucked his hand back into his sleeve, then leaned forward slightly as he said with a smile, "Regardless of what the two of you think of me, I assure you that after this meeting, we won't need to meet again.

Perhaps that's not entirely accurate. I'm overseeing the construction of the city god pavilion for now, so perhaps we'll cross paths while I'm performing my duties, but even then, our interactions will be minimal. As for the wenchang pavilions and the martial sage temples, those are outside of my realm of jurisdiction. I'm only responsible for the insignificant city god pavilion."

Just as the governor of a county was responsible for overseeing all matters taking place in the county in the world of the living, the city god ruled over all of the beings and entities in the realm of the night.

Master Ruan's brows were tightly furrowed as he tried to figure out exactly who this young boy was. Was he a priest from the ministry of rites or was he a Qi refiner from the ministry of astronomy?

Regardless of whether he came from the ministry of rites, the ministry of astronomy, or elsewhere in the Great Li Empire, the fact that he dared to stand at the summit of the mountain of porcelain in such a bold and brazen manner indicated that he had to be a 10th Tier cultivator at the very minimum.

Hence, he was most definitely older than he appeared.

The youthful-looking cultivator turned to Old Man Yang as he said, "Allow me to offer you a piece of advice, Mr. Yang: caution is the key to longevity."

Old Man Yang took a vigorous puff of his pipe, but only expelled an extremely thin wisp of smoke that quickly vanished into nothingness.

The boyish cultivator's hands were still tucked within his sleeves, but the fabric of the sleeves was moving slightly, as if he were making hand seals.

Ruan Qiong heaved a long sigh. "Please do me a favor and set aside your differences for now. Otherwise, if the three of us get into a fight, this entire area in a radius of hundreds of kilometers will be smashed to bits."

The boyish cultivator immediately pulled his hands out of his sleeves and raised them up high with a casual grin as he said, "I have no objections to that."

Meanwhile, Old Man Yang drew in a breath through his nose, and two barely visible wisps of purple smoke instantly retreated back up his nostrils.

"You seem to know a lot," Old Man Yang mused with a cold smile.

The boyish cultivator smiled as he replied, "I know just enough. For example, I know that you're not some so-called Mr. Yang. Instead, you should be referred to as Mr. Qing..."

The boyish cultivator intentionally omitted something here, not because he was trying to make a joke, but because right as those words were about to slip out of his mouth, he felt a flash of killing intent rise up from the old man's body.

Thus, he immediately made a decision there and then to hold his tongue and back down for now.

The boyish cultivator leaned back, falling backward as he said, "Farewell. I hope we never see one another again. From this point onward, let's stay out of each other's way and stick to our own paths."

As soon as his voice trailed off, he vanished without a trace.

"He may be a cultivator of the Upper Five Tiers," Ruan Qiong remarked in a grim voice.Gett your avorite ovels at no/v/e/lbn(.)com

An amused look appeared on Old Man Yang's face as he scoffed, "What're you getting so worked up for? Aren't you a cultivator of the Upper Five Tiers as well? No matter how small Eastern Treasured Vial Continent may be, it's still one of the nine continents. It's possible for even 13th Tier Qi refiners to arise, let alone an 11th or 12th Tier Qi refiner."

Ruan Qiong took no reassurance from Old Man Yang's words as he shook his head and said, "I've only just reached the 11th Tier and still haven't had a chance to stabilize my cultivation base yet. I may be a Militarian cultivator who's decently adept in battle, but..."

Before Ruan Qiong had a chance to finish, Old Man Yang turned to depart, exhaling a cloud of smoke as he said, "Just be content with what you have. There are countless people pursuing the path of cultivation in this world, yet 10th Tier cultivators are already exceedingly rare, let alone cultivators of the Upper Five Tiers. You're wary of that man, just as he's wary of you. Neither of you wishes to instigate a conflict with the other."

Ruan Qiong thought about this and decided that Old Man Yang was right. He wasn't the type of person to obsess over questions that couldn't be answered, so he decided to simply not think about that strange cultivator's identity and origins. Ideally, they would keep out of each other's way and focus on their own business.

With that in mind, Ruan Qiong rose up into the air with a resounding boom, rising all the way up into the clouds before rapidly plummeting toward the bank of the creek.

Meanwhile, Old Man Yang was strolling back to the town, and he chuckled, "It's good to be young!"

Meanwhile, the boyish cultivator was making his way down an alley in the town as he murmured to himself, "We need a curfew, a night watchman, and a market. There are a lot of changes that need to be made. Looks like our governor is going to be very busy."

The boyish cultivator was spinning a string of old keys around his finger as he spoke, and he strode into an alley by the name of Erlang Alley, which directly neighbored Apricot Blossom Alley.

It was said that two remarkable figures had emerged from this alley a long time ago, but no one knew who they were or what feats they had achieved. Over time, it became a story that was only discussed by the elderly people gathered under the old locust tree back when it was still standing.

Now that the old locust tree had fallen, it seemed that the population of the town had undergone a sharp decline. The children in the town didn't notice much of a difference, but the young people in the town were generally quite pleased now that the old locust tree was gone, leaving a large patch of empty land and allowing for broader horizons.

In contrast, the old people in the town would occasionally gather where the old locust tree once was to lament its absence. There were no affluent households on Erlang Alley and Apricot Blossom Alley, only households that weren't all that wealthy, nor particularly impoverished.

The people living on the nearby Clay Vase Alley were often struck by a sense of inferiority in the presence of the residents of those two alleys, and Apricot Blossom Alley was where Granny Ma and her grandson, Ma Kuxuan, lived. Their household was considered to be quite an affluent one in the town.

The boyish cultivator stopped in front of a manor, where there were two brand new door gods plastered onto the gate. He raised his head to look up at one of the door gods, and it was a silver-armored door god with one foot raised, and a stern and authoritative look on its face. The boyish cultivator smiled as he mused to himself, "So this is what it feels like to return home in triumph."

He opened the gate and stepped inside, revealing a residence that wasn't very large, but was very intricately constructed. There was an open-air area in the front courtyard, and a pond on the ground. The ventilation in the residence was exceptional, and there was a reclining chair on the second floor that was perfect for stargazing at night or watching the snow during winter. The boyish cultivator was very pleased with this residence, remarking to himself that this was a very good place for cultivation and relaxation.

He carried an intricately carved wooden chair over to the pond before taking a seat, then rustled his sleeves to send a large pile of broken chinaware clattering onto the ground, the largest of which were around the size of human fists, while the smallest resembled grains of rice. There were too many of them to count, and after they had all been emptied out of the boyish cultivator's sleeves, they were hovering in the air above the pond in the open-air area.

It was as if there were truly a small world up his sleeve.

The boyish cultivator looked around as he massaged his own glabella and murmured to himself, "Where should I start?"

In the end, his gaze settled on a piece of red chinaware that caught his eye. "I'll start with you."

The piece of selected chinaware flew out of the pile at his behest, then stopped in mid-air around a foot in front of him.

After that, more and more pieces of broken chinaware flew out of the suspended pile before arriving in front of the boyish cultivator to be arranged as he saw fit.

It was as if he were assembling a piece of chinaware.

The next day, at the blacksmith shop, Ruan Xiu gave Chen Ping'an a pair of maps, one of which was old and yellow, bearing illustrations of a series of undulating mountains. However, all of them were named things like A1, C3, etc.

As for the new map, not only was it still giving off a fresh inky fragrance, the mountains had been annotated with their actual names, such as Divine Elegance Mountain, Dragonspine Mountain, and True Jewel Mountain. Additionally, there was also a Great Li Dragon Spring County annotated on the map.

Ruan Xiu pointed at these names and introduced them to Chen Ping'an one by one, then cautioned, "The two maps make it appear as if the distance between the mountains is tiny, but once you get up there, you'll discover that a tiny distance on the map could equate to several kilometers of rugged mountain path.

This is because after Jewel Small World descended onto the Great Li Empire, violent tremors ran through the earth, and some of the less structurally sound mountains have even collapsed altogether. As a result, you'll most likely also encounter many unexpected surprises on your trip, so make sure to be careful."

Chen Ping'an carefully stowed the two maps away, then hoisted a basket onto his back, just like when he had ventured into the mountains with Chen Dui and Ning Yao last time.

After that, he turned to Ruan Xiu with an apologetic expression as he said, "I'll do my best to make it to the region near Lamp Bearer Mountain and Gallant Spear Mountain. It's going to take at least half a month before I get back, but it shouldn't take more than a month at the very most."

"You're going in for that long? You haven't packed anywhere near enough food to eat!" Ruan Xiu said in a concerned voice.

Chen Ping'an replied with a reassuring smile, "I spend a lot of time in the mountains, so I know how to forage and hunt. I definitely won't run out of food up there."

Ruan Xiu smiled and nodded in response. "Once you return from the mountains, I'll definitely be able to give you the silver that my father promised to lend you."

Chen Ping'an was silent for a moment, then said in a candid manner, "Don't put so much pressure on yourself, Ruan Xiu. I'll think of a way to get the money myself, I can't ask you to give up your favorite pastries just so you can save up money to lend to me."

Ruan Xiu immediately became flushed with embarrassment, and she couldn't figure out how he had found out about this.

Chen Ping'an remained silent as a wry smile appeared on his face. Given Master Ruan's terrible personality, he knew that there was no way that he would've agreed to lend him the silver. Hence, it wasn't that he was particularly observant or intelligent, Ruan Xiu had simply done a terrible job covering her tracks.

Chen Ping'an could see that she was feeling a little dejected, and he hurriedly consoled, "In any case, I still want to thank you. It's the thought that counts."

A faint smile appeared on Ruan Xiu's face, and she suddenly said, "Let me accompany you for a bit."

However, Chen Ping'an had already departed, and he waved a hand as he replied, "There's no need for that. I'm so familiar with the path leading to the mountains that I can traverse it with my eyes closed."

Thus, Ruan Xiu could only remain on the spot as she waved him farewell.

After leaving the blacksmith shop, Chen Ping'an rushed along the creek in the upstream direction.

Chen Ping'an wasn't interested in the mountains near the town. They weren't very large, and they weren't particularly expensive, but the location wasn't very desirable in his eyes.

Their close proximity to the town would draw too much attention to him, and Master Ruan had told him that the mountains in this area, including the likes of True Earth Mountain and Distant Scene Mountain, were originally laden with resources, but those resources had been severely depleted by those in the town due to these mountains' ease of access.

Hence, they were not worth investing in, and only upon reaching True Jewel Mountain in the west did this situation begin to improve.

Chen Ping'an walked for a full day and a full night, resting only less than four hours during this period of time. Finally, he made his way onto the summit of a small hill, where he took a deep breath to inhale the natural fragrance of the mountain wilderness.

He puffed out his chest and stomped a foot heavily down onto the ground as he declared in a proud voice, "This is mine!"

1. Master Ruan's surname () is a homonym of , which translates to soft.

Chapter end

Chapter 31: Beating Around the Mountain
Chapter 32: Peach Leaf
Chapter 33: White Dragon Disguising as a Fish
Chapter 34: Gathered Together
Chapter 35: Licorice Root
Chapter 36: Ancient Book
Chapter 37: Fist Technique
Chapter 38: Ninth Tier
Chapter 39: Cursing the Locust Tree
Chapter 40: Returning the Courtesy
Chapter 42: Prodigy
Chapter 43: The Young Boy and the Old Dog
Chapter 44: Coming to Light
Chapter 45: Sunlight
Chapter 46: Skirt Dagger
Chapter 47: Going Alone
Chapter 48: The Hunter and the Hunted
Chapter 49: Porcelain Shard
Chapter 50 (1): One Who is Destined for Great Things
Chapter 50 (2): One Who is Destined for Great Things
Chapter 51: Confrontation
Chapter 52: Shudder
Chapter 53: Gift
Chapter 54: Facing the Enemy
Chapter 55: Feeling Proud in the Spring Breeze
Chapter 56: Nodding Bodhisattva
Chapter 57: Sword Nurturing Gourd
Chapter 58: Teacher
Chapter 59: Sleep
Chapter 60: There's a Ghost
Chapter 61: Helpless Pawn
Chapter 62: Falling Tree
Chapter 63 (1): So That's How It Is
Chapter 63 (2): So That's How It Is
Chapter 64: The Three Chens
Chapter 65: Jewel
Chapter 66: Looking Up
Chapter 67 (1): Long Journey
Chapter 67 (2): Long Journey
Chapter 68: Spring Under the Heavens
Chapter 69: Night
Chapter 70: Daylight
Chapter 71 (1): I’ll Like You for a While Longer
Chapter 71 (2): I’ll Like You for a While Longer
Chapter 72: Black Cloud
Chapter 73: Wooden Figure
Chapter 74: The Fire Dragon Roams the Water
Chapter 75: Mountain Selection
Chapter 76: Back to Back
Chapter 77: Entering the Mountains
Chapter 78: Another Dream
Chapter 79: Spring Welcome Seal
Chapter 80: Leaving the Mountains
Chapter 81: Imperial Preceptor
Chapter 82 (1): Master and Student, Senior Brother and Junio
Chapter 82 (2): Master and Student, Senior Brother and Junio
Chapter 83: Dreams
Chapter 84 (1): I Have a Sword
Chapter 84 (2): I Have a Sword
Chapter 85 (1): Conclusion of the Examination
Chapter 85 (2): Conclusion of the Examination
Chapter 86 (1): Walking the Same Path
Chapter 86 (2): Walking the Same Path
Chapter 87 (1): Little Teacher
Chapter 87 (2): Little Teacher
Chapter 88: Grand Entrance
Chapter 89: Two Heads
Chapter 90: Heavy Rain
Chapter 91: Jade Hairpin
Chapter 92 (1): Bamboo Bookcase
Chapter 92 (2): Bamboo Bookcase
Chapter 93 (1): There's a Character on the Wall
Chapter 93 (2): There's a Character on the Wall
Chapter 94: A Feast for the Eyes
Chapter 95: Too Small a Place
Chapter 96: Demons in the Mountains and Rivers
Chapter 97: Bowing to the Mountain
Chapter 98: The Meddlesome Mountain God
Chapter 99: The Mountain God and the Bamboo Saber
Chapter 100 (1): The World Beneath One's Feet
Chapter 100 (2): The World Beneath One's Feet
Chapter 101: Guard the Mountain
Chapter 102: Soaring White Ray
Chapter 103: Bamboo Building
Chapter 104: Sharing the Spoils
Chapter 105: Rootless Duckweed
Chapter 106: People from All Walks of Life
Chapter 107: Fishing Net
Chapter 108: Spring Hunting
Chapter 109: The Young Boy Has Some Words to Say
Chapter 110: All Good Things Must Come to an End
Chapter 111: Bamboo Hat
Chapter 112: Powerful Individual
Chapter 113: Unparalleled Might
Chapter 114: Seeing A'Liang Again
Chapter 115: There's an Old Scholar In the World (1)
Chapter 116: There's an Old Scholar In the World (2)
Chapter 117 (1): There's an Old Scholar In the World (3)
Chapter 117 (2): There's an Old Scholar In the World (3)
Chapter 118 (1): There's Righteousness In The World
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