Extra: Yue Qingyuan and Shen Qingqiu
This chapter is by Buri of BC Novels.
Shen Jiu swiftly kicked a small dark wooden basin sending it flying into the air.
He stood there, silently, with his arms crossed over his chest. The other boy, he didn’t remember if this one was Shishi or Shiwu1, shrunk back from him.
The boys next to him egged him on with their eyes, so he gathered his guts, straightened his back and said: “Shen Jiu, stop being such a bully. You didn’t buy the street, there’s no reason we can’t be in it!”
It was a main street, wide and flat, with people constantly coming and going. If you were a beggar it was, without a doubt, the best possible territory to panhandle in.
The people passing by looked over at the group of scuffing children, but most just hurried along their pace.
It looked like the brat that just got there actually dared to challenge him: Shen Jiu lowered his head, about to pick up a brick to teach him a lesson. Right then, a tall teenager who was walking over to them caught sight of Shen’s pulled up sleeves and lowered head and knew exactly what he was about to do. He immediately hurried over, holding him back, “Xiao Jiu, let’s go somewhere else.”
“I’m not going anywhere. I’m staying right here,” said Shen Jiu.
The other boy took the opportunity to tell on him, “Qi-ge, he’s bullying me.”
“He’s not bullying you, Shiwu. Xiao Jiu is just playing around with you,” Yue Qi answered back.
“Who the hell’s playing around with him? I told him to scram. This is my territory, whoever tries to snatch it from me is asking to die!”, said Shen Jiu immediately.
With Yue Qi holding Shen Jiu back, Shiwu grew bolder. He stuck his neck out, shouting, “Every new place we go to you always bully your way into the best spot, no one can stand you! You think you’re so great that everyone is scared of you!”
“Shiwu!” Yue Qi reproached.
In the middle of the struggle Shen Jiu kicked Yue Qi’s calf, “If you want to beat me up why don’t you come over here, eh? Without any talent a good spot won’t do you much. And stop calling him Qi-ge, you bastard! Just try and do it again to see what comes down on you!”
“You’re the bastard! Sooner or later I’ll be watching you be sold off to be some brothel’s servant2!”
Yue Qi didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, “Who taught you how to say those things? “
He pulled Shen Jiu along with him away from the roadside while coaxing him：”Come on, you know that out of everyone here you are the most talented. No matter the territory, you will still be the best. Let’s just move to another street.”
Shen Jiu stomped down on his foot, “Get off! You think I’m scared of him? Come on, come on, let’s go! One on one! Even if it’s me against the whole lot of them at once I’m still not scared!”
Yue Qi was well aware that he really wasn’t scared. If he was actually to fight them all, he would use underhanded tactics like scratching their eyes to provoke them or striking their lower parts. He was vicious, and even if he got the worst of it, the ones scared and crying would still be the others. He made sure to keep his laughter in check and threaded his words carefully：”Haven’t you trampled me enough? Stop! Stop stamping on me! Can’t we just have some fun? Come on, I’ll take you with me.”
Shen Jiu said ferociously,”Have fun my ass! You know what would be fun? If they all dropped dead!
Yue Qi looked at him and helplessly shook his head.
There was a Qi (7) and a Jiu (9), so naturally there were also many other children named after the numbers from one to six. However, the only ones who remained and knew each other from the first batch of kids were these two, since more than six from the first batch had already been either sold or died a long time ago.
Back then this had been their stitch: Yue Qi would sit on the ground with a “letter written in blood” laid out in front of them while hugging Shen Jiu’s head against his chest. The letter claimed that the brothers’ parents were both dead and that the two of them had met with nothing but misfortune when seeking their faraway relatives; now the boys were orphaned and uncared for, wandering aimlessly with no one to rely on, and so on and so forth. According to such a set up, Yue Qi should be bawling his eyes out, but unfortunately, no matter what, he wasn’t able to shed a single tear.. That job then fell on Shen Jiu who, being both the tiniest and skinniest of them, should have pretending to be so ill he was about to draw his last breath at any moment. He was tiny and cute, so whenever he wailed heart-brokenly anyone who saw him would pity him. They came forth in troves to generously hand over their money to help them. He was a real money tree, no doubt about that. Later on, as Yue Qi grew older he was no longer willing to do those kinds of things, so instead he was just sent out to patrol. Shen Jiu had wanted to tag along with him, but since he wasn’t allowed to he just kept being a street-corner tyrant wherever he went.
As the two of them were about to leave the bustling street, they heard a sudden burst of hurried hoofbeats.
The stall owners on both sides of the street turned pale with fright and hurriedly pushed their carts in all directions as if they were running off from battle. Yue Qi didn’t understand what was happening, but Shen Jiu hauled him back to the roadside firmly, before a tall and large horse came galloping into the street.
The horse’s bar bit was actually forged with glistening gold, bright and heavy, and haughtly riding him was a high-spirited young master. His countenance was strong, his eyebrows were slender and his eyes had dark piercing pupils. The lower hem of his violet gown hung down loosely over both sides of the saddle, his narrow sleeves were tight around his wrists. On the palm of one of his pale and fair hands he held a pitch-black whip.
Shen Jiu was so dazzled by the golden shimmer that he couldn’t stop himself from stretching forward to look at it. Yue Qi hurriedly pulled him back, taking him along to leave.
The two of them hadn’t gone far when they suddenly heard the bursting sound of screams, and soon the kids from before were rushing one after the other towards Yue Qi, pouncing on him in fright and rubbing their snot and tears all over him. Shen Jiu’s temper immediately flared up, while Yue Qi worriedly asked, “Why are you crying? What’s wrong?”
One of them let out a horrible shriek: “Shiwu’s gone!”
Yue Qi paused in his step, “Didn’t he follow you guys here?”
The child wailed, “The street was such a mess, we couldn’t see well…”
“Calm down, talk slowly,” sked Yue Qi calmly.
Turns out the following had happened – just as the young master riding the horse and his servants were exiting the street, he spotted Shiwu and the others at the street corner. He wrinkled his nose in distaste, “Where did they come from?”
“It is unclear where these beggars came from, Young Master Qiu,” replied a servant.
“Then what should we do with those filthy things?” asked the young master.
The servants did not need their master to give out any further instructions, brazenly driving off the children. Shiwu had had such a hard time snatching that territory from Shen Jiu’s hands that there was no way he would just give it away like that, “What gives you the right to kick others out of here…?”
He had also wanted to say “this street ain’t yours,” but with a wave of that young master’s hand a dark shadow had fallen on him, leaving on his face the bleeding welt of a whip lash.
The whip had struck less than a hair’s breadth from his eyeball and Shiwu hadn’t yet had the time to register the pain, feeling only dull shock.
The young master gave a bright smile, “I have no special rights. Although my family did build this street. “
Not knowing whether he was dizzy from pain or fear, Shiwu swooned, crashing onto the ground with a loud thud.
Shen Jiu didn’t even wait for the end of the story before he roared with loud laughter, although, very soon he wouldn’t be laughing anymore. Yue Qi had found that a few of them were missing. He turned around and said,” You go ahead first, I’ll catch up with you soon.”
Shen Jiu, rejoicing in Shiwu’s misfortune, said, “Don’t meddle in this, Qi-ge, that Qiu guy wouldn’t actually be bold enough to kill them.”
Yue Qi shook his head, “Do as I tell you: go back. I’m the oldest, I can’t ignore this.”
“They won’t die. At most they’ll get whacked around a bit. They’ll remember the lesson,” said Shen Jiu.
“Go back,” said Yue Qi.
Shen Jiu, unable to hold him back, cursed him out instead, “You are too damn meddlesome!”.
However, after he was done cursing him out to his heart’s content, he followed after him.
This chapter is by Buri of BC Novels.
Qiu Jianluo found Shen Jiu incredibly amusing.
You could compare the feeling of hitting him to the one you get hitting a dog. If you hit a dog once, it would dejectedly shrink back into a corner to whimper to himself. Although it certainly wasn’t menacing, it also wasn’t any fun at all. But if you trampled this dog, it would growl and growl under its breath, stare at you with fright in its eyes, but also never even dare to resist. It suddenly became so much more amusing.
He slapped Shen Jiu across the face. At that point Shen Jiu must have already cursed the Qiu Family’s ancestral tomb over a thousand times in his mind, yet he would still be a good boy and wouldn’t strike back. Instead he’d extend his face obediently for another strike.
Really, it was so amusing.
As Qiu Jiangluo thought so to himself, he couldn’t help but let out a laugh.
Shen Jiu had just received a good beating. He was now hunched over in the corner with his arms covering his head as he watched Qiu Jiangluo shake with his own laughter.
Qiu Jiangluo had bought Shen Jiu several days ago and since then had kept him locked up until he grew filthy with grime. He finally noticed just how dirty he was, growing nauseous himself at the sight, so he picked him up as if he was a kitten and handed him off to a few robust servants, ordering them to give him a good washing.
As a result, Shen Jiu was ruthlessly washed, his skin almost having a whole layer scraped off, before being returned to Qiu Jiangluo’s study. After having the age-old filth washed off him by the scalding water his arms, shoulders and cheeks, which had been rubbed the most vigorously, looked clean and rosy and his damp hair was still emitting heat. As he stood to the side dressed neatly and awaiting further commands, the way he looked was unexpectedly pitiful.
Qiu Jiangluo tilted his head, looking at him for a long time; he felt a somewhat strange feeling in his heart, but also some fondness. At first he felt like kicking him, but then restrained himself.
“Are you literate?” he asked.
“I know some characters,” Shen Jiu said in a low voice.
Qiu Jiangluo spread out snow-white paper across the desk, knocking next to it, “Write something for me to see.”
Shen Jiu unenthusiastically and emotionlessly grabbed a weasel hair writing brush, his posture and hold unexpectedly good. He wet the brush in the ink and then paused for a moment to ponder. He then first wrote the character for seven with two decisive strokes before continuing and writing the character for nine3.
Although the strokes had been done in the wrong order, they were neither crooked nor slanted, instead being quite elegant.
“Where did you learn this?” asked Qiu Jianluo.
“I watched others write,” said Shen Jiu.
This brat was mere trash, he only knew how to mechanically mymic others yet unexpectedly could bluff others quite well. Qiu Jianluo was taken by surprise. Because of that, his expression became kinder. He imitated his old private tutor’s manner of speaking and praised,” You have some aptitude for this. If in the future you are studious, you might be able to go down the right path.”
Qiu Jianluo was sixteen, four years older than Shen Jiu, and his parents had high hopes for him. He was carefully raised inside this gold brick house, and never cared for anyone. His entire life the only one he had ever treasured was his darling younger sister Haitang, who was also the darling treasured child of the entire Qiu household. Qiu Jianluo was always a good big brother in front of Haitang. In the past he had earnestly wished for his little sister to never get married her whole life, but after Shen Jiu showed up a different alternative came to him.
Qiu Haitang was quite fond of Shen Jiu, so if he managed to instruct Shen Jiu well he could become quite the convenient brother-in-law. His little sister could remain by his side, and he could keep having fun with Shen Jiu. As long as he was well-behaved and obedient, they could all live peacefully together.
He wouldn’t have to send his sister far-off to get married, after all they would still depend on him for food and clothing. Her being married or not wouldn’t change anything at all. If you ignored the fact that Shen Jiu was so beneath her, there really were no drawbacks.
Qiu Jianluo was quite proud of his plan. He would warn Shen Jiu everyday, “if you dare to make Haitang sad I will end your life.”
“If it wasn’t for Haitang I would have beaten you to death already.”
“People should always repay kindness with kindness. Our family made you into a proper person. It shouldn’t need to be said that even if it takes your life, you still have to repay us for that.”
The older Shen Jiu grew the clearer it became to him that, just to this one person, he could not be the least bit disobedient4. Whatever he told him to do, he must do. Even if it made him feel nauseous, he could never let it show unless he wished to get a brutal beating.
But in his mind he was constantly remembering the first time he met Qiu Jianluo, the cherished memory of the one time he saw him out of his mind with rage.
Yue Qi had insisted on going back for Shiwu, and soon found himself nearly being trampled under Qiu Jianluo’s horse’s hooves. In a split second Shen Jiu completely forgot Yue Qi’s repeated warnings that they should let absolutely no one see them use their “immortal skills”, and turned a gold piece into a sharp blade, stabbing it bone deep into the horse.
Qiu Jianluo lost control of his horse, it spun around in place, jumping wildly without restraint. Shen Jiu was cursing him in his mind with all his strength, wishing he’d just fall off the horse quickly, fall and break his neck. Yet his riding skills were unexpectedly outstanding – the horse’s hooves were high up in the air but he still sat firmly on the saddle roaring with rage, “Who did that?! Who did that!”
Of course Shen Jiu had been the one to do it.
However, no one would have known it was him if when Qiu Jianluo came knocking at their door later on, Shiwu hadn’t spoken out and said it.
If they hadn’t gone to save him, Shiwu would have been indiscriminately trampled to death under the hooves of the Qiu’s horse. He kept his life, and then repaid them by selling them out. Shiwu should be trampled to death, stepped and spat on by a thousand people until he was turned into a pulpy puddle of rotten meat. Yue Qi should never have gone back to save him. He deserved to be dead.
And so, while being tormented day-to-day, Shen Jiu consoled himself by ruminating endlessly on these both sweet and useless poisonous thoughts, and kept waiting for the one who told him he’d return and rescue him from this abyss of mystery.
This chapter is by Buri of BC Novels.
Shen Jiu thought a lot about why Yue Qi hadn’t come back for him.
Perhaps he was caught during his escape and the slavers broke his legs. Perhaps he didn’t have enough rations for the travel, and since he was unwilling to beg for food he starved to death on the way. Or perhaps he didn’t have enough natural aptitude, and no Immortal Mountain was willing to take him in. Shen Jiu mused about how he would walk to the end to the end of the world to find his remains no matter what, dig him a grave with his own hands and maybe even shed a reluctant tear. If by luck he was still alive, he would save him from whatever misery he was in no matter what it cost – even if Shen Jiu had to go straight into a tiger’s den after having just left a wolf’s one, and sink himself into that same misery.
Yet he never thought they would meet again this way.
He swung his sword again and again, the splattered blood painting a bleak and violent picture. A blood drop splashed into his eye, but he merely blinked, his face expressionless. His movements could be said to be calm and skilled. After Wu Yanzi took him away from the Qiu Household he taught him, his “disciple”, quite a lot – how to slaughter, commit arson, rob and take advantage of chaos to reap benefits. Currently, he was teaching him how to take advantage of the Immortal Alliance Conference to assault the dumb children; to snatch the storage pouches and dispose of the bodies of the young elite noble cultivators who still somehow thought of themselves as infallible.
When Yue Qi found him he was so stunned by his frightful appearance he even turned a blind eye to the disciples’ corpses on the ground. He took two steps forward.
A shiver ran through Shen Jiu and he abruptly looked up.
Yue Qi could see his face clearly. In a split second both their faces had turned deathly pale.
“Don’t come here!” Shen Jiu said harshly.
Unexpectedly, his first reaction was to throw himself on the ground, snatch an emergency firework from one of the corpses and set it off towards the sky.
Yue Qi was in a daze, walking towards him with his hand stretched out and mouth open as if he wanted to call out —-
Cruel laughter sounded from the dense forest beside them.
“Who is this person who managed to scare you so, my good disciple? Turns out you can also get frightened?”
Shen Jiu let go of the smoky firework tubes, letting them fall to the ground. He abruptly turned around, “I’m not afraid of him, Shifu. Just now I was careless and accidently let the ones on the floor set off the emergency fireworks. Someone might come over soon!”
Yue Qi realized this was a dangerous situation so he stayed quiet, gathering his spiritual power. Wu Yanzi said contemptuously, “So that was why I saw those fireworks just now. You’ve always had nimble movements, how did this happen now! If they wanted to set off fireworks, why didn’t you just cut off their hands?”
Shen Jiu lowered his head and said,”It is all this disciple’s fault. Let us leave quickly. Those brainless old men will definitely chase us, we should run.”
Yue Qi blocked their way, raising his hand to his sword. His eyes were still somewhat red as he looked at Shen Jiu. Although his voice was hoarse, it was extremely firm,” You can’t leave.”
Shen Jiu glared at him.
Wu Yanzi sized him up, focusing on the sword on his hip at once and sneering as he said, “From Cang Qiong Mountain. Qiong Ding Peak even. You’re The Xuan Su sword, Yue Qingyuan?”
After hearing this, Shen Jiu was somewhat startled, quickly urging him again, “Shifu, since he’s from Cang Qiong mountain we won’t be able to kill him quickly. It’s better for us to flee now. When the others get here we’ll be finished!”
Wu Yanzi smiled bitterly and said, “Cang Qiong Mountain might be powerful, but I won’t go as far as fearing one of their juniors. Much less when he’s asking for his own death!”
After they started to fight Shen Jiu realized his worries for Yue Qi and the clumsy tricks they made him use were just laughable. He was terrified of Wu Yanzi, his “shifu”, but Yue Qi, or should he say Yue Qingyuan, could hold off against him without even drawing his sword.
Still, he couldn’t be at ease because he knew about Wu Yanzi’s usual tactics, as well as the ace up his sleeve.
Wu Yanzi had a set of secret cursed talismans. Shen Jiu had witnessed him toss them out countless times whenever he was at a disadvantage in a fight, taking his opponents by surprise and killing them with a strike. Many renowned cultivators had fallen for this treacherous trick before, never mind Yue Qi who at a glance could be seen to have little battle experience, only retaliating methodically.
Thus, the moment Wu Yanzi threw out those talismans Shen Jiu stabbed his own sword through his back.
Yue Qi grabbed his hand, dragging him to run. Not having yet recovered from the fright of that brutal fight, they soon leaned against a tree gasping for air.
Only after calming down could Shen Jiu carefully size up Yue Qi.
The high level cultivation, the composed bearing, the outstanding clothing, the dignified and well-bred air. He could see none of the extreme misery he had imagined before.
This was Yue Qingyuan, not Yue Qi.
Yue Qingyuan’s face was flushed with excitement. He was about to speak when Shen Jiu directly faced him and asked, “You got into Cang Qiong Mountain?”
Yue Qingyuan hadn’t expected the question. His expression fell and he began to pale.
“You became Qiong Ding’s head disciple? Not bad. Why didn’t you come back to look for me?” asked Shen Jiu.
Shen Jiu waited a moment, but no answer came.
“Why aren’t you continuing? I’ll wait. I’ve already waited for so many years anyway, waiting a bit more won’t hurt.”
How could Yue Qingyuan continue?
Shen Jiu crossed his arms in front of his chest. Finally, he heard Yue Qingyuan’s low voice, “Qi-ge let you down. I’m sorry.”
Shen Jiu’s mind was encompassed entirely by ice-cold fury. His breath shortened; he could almost taste and smell the blood at the back of his throat.
In the past, he would just submit to the humiliation like a rat, cover his head with his arms and wait to be hit. Later on, he would just scurry through sewers like a rat and get yelled at and beaten by anyone who saw him. No matter what he was just a rat, hiding his head and tail, unable to stand the light. He had wasted his life, thrown away his time, while Yue Qingyuan was a phoenix who had risen from the branches to soar, a carp who had leapt over the Dragon Gate5.
“‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry’… You only ever know how to say ‘I’m sorry’.”
With a bitter smile, Shen Jiu gave the last word, “What use is that?”
Some people were born already rotten. Shen Jiu thought he was precisely one of those venomous people, rotten from birth; because in that moment he had a clear revelation:
He would rather see the cold remains of Yue Qi in some obscure corner with no one to collect them than see this refined, powerful and promising Yue Qingyuan.
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- This chapter is by Buri of BC Novels.
- This is part 1 of 2 since the chapter is epically long.
- I was sick earlier which was really scary but I’m okay now. Either it wasn’t Covid19 or I got the milder symptoms that don’t kill people.
- Yay, I’m alive and it doesn’t look like I’ll be dying anytime soon! *crosses fingers*
- Try to stay home if you can, everyone!
- Thanks for reading.
- Like Shen Jiu (9) and Yue Qi (7), his name is also a number. Shen Jiu isn’t sure if he was called Shiwu (15) or Shisi (14)
- A servant at a brothel has a very low status. They mostly run errands and function as bodyguards.
- The characters for Qi-ge’s name (Qi) and his name (Jiu).
- This sentence was very simplified, not carrying some of its original meaning. The term for “grew up” is more accurately “was raised up [by Qiu Jianluo]”, and the word for disobedient could carry the connotation of being unfilial.
- “According to Chinese mythology, the Dragon’s Gate is located at the top of a waterfall cascading from a legendary mountain. Many carp swim upstream against the river’s strong current, but few are capable or brave enough for the final leap over the waterfall. If a carp successfully makes the jump, it is transformed into a powerful dragon. “ – Source: http://www.egreenway.com/dragonsrealms/DT3.htm