Chapter 47 Jianghu Gossip
At that time, countless reasons had already appeared for Shen Qingqiu to be all torn up about his situation.
These reasons were not that he had just made an explosive escape under Luo Binghe’s eyes, but because in that split second he had heard an extremely familiar and hateful sound.
A voice with a mechanical accent like Google Translate.
I thought I had already scrubbed this clean. I thought I established that switching the hardware would get rid of the virus?! That since turning over a new leaf I could melt into the sea of people and have the freedom to fly like a bird through the broad skies?
Blocking his ears like the bell thief with covered ears,1 Shen Qingqiu rushed from the demon realm to the human realm as fast as lightning, running like a hurricane all the way from Huang Ling to the outer borders. That devilish sound continuously poured into his mind like it was setting up camp in his psyche.
【……Debugging……Contacting customer service……】
Was it because of this ‘soul binding’ that the System reactivated after running into Luo Binghe?
Did the connection break after switching bodies, so you needed to contact customer service to debug the program?
Luo Binghe is truly the devilish guiding star of his life!
Fortunately, aside from repeating those few keywords in a half-dead manner, at least the System could not speak in complete sentences. Shen Qingqiu had been smacking his head the entire way back, but after seeing signs of human habitation appearing ahead and considering his appearance, he slowed his steps and walked back to the garrison town.
This small border town seemed more alive in the day than during the night. It couldn’t be called flourishing—the streets were neither wide nor bordered with homes and pedestrians were neither many nor few—but with the storefronts open it could be called thriving in its own right.
Next to the tea shop, sign flag2 fluttering in the wind, a young man and woman stood gazing into the distance, swords in hand. Shen Qingqiu walked over and asked, “Why have you still not returned to Cang Qiong Mountain?”
Liu Mingyan sent him a small salute. Yang Yixuan hastily said, “The disciples from the other sects have already gone back. Seeing that Elder has managed to escape, we won’t have to worry anymore either.”
Shen Qingqiu went along with them into the tea shop, finding a table to sit down. To the side, some people who were originally chatting idly, suddenly cried out in alarm after getting a glimpse of him. “Ah, it’s… it’s…”
Shen Qingqiu turned around to look. It turns out it was those border guard disciples he had saved the night he had just crawled out of the ground. The person who had first seen him stammered, unable to call out a name. Lu Liu hurriedly said, “It’s you, Mister Peerless…!”
He had said the last two characters of the name after “Peerless,” but it sounded extremely vague, becoming too ambiguous after being pressed under his tongue. The others, a bit hurriedly, followed his lead one after the another: “It’s you, Elder Peerless…!”
Shen Qingqiu nodded his greetings, internally deciding that he must take another title, brooking no delay. Yang Yixuan blankly said, “Elder, is your last name Huang (Yellow)? Huang Hua (Yellow Flower)? Guang Hua (Magnificent Light)?”3
Shen Qingqiu sighed, twice, and also said vaguely, “It’s….” After using this ID for so many years, he finally felt a bit ashamed for the first time.
He put on a stern expression and said, “Last night, you disciples from various sects saw me in Chi Yun Cave. I couldn’t conceal myself there, so if other people ask about me, say as little about me as possible. It would be best if you could keep your mouths shut entirely.”
Yang Yixuan said, “Why? Elder, aren’t you familiar with my master?”
“Uh, we are indeed quite familiar…”
Shen Qingqiu still didn’t know what to say when the table to the side continued their conversation. One person asked while spitting out melon seed shells, “Liu-
Lu Liu said, “That alternate explanation is very interesting. This opinion seems to have spread from people on the inside. This Luo Binghe and Shen Qingqiu…”
Upon hearing these two names, Shen Qingqiu’s heart gave a thump. Involuntarily, he straightened his posture, pricking up his ears to listen. The waving of the fan in his hands slowed. The two from Cang Qiong Mountain sect also could not resist looking over.
Lu Liu drank a mouthful of tea and said, “This Luo Binghe and Shen Qingqiu were master and disciple, right? This Luo Binghe came from a poor and humble family and suffered the hardships of the world since he was young. After becoming a disciple of Cang Qiong Mountain sect he was still underappreciated for a while and was beaten down and humiliated by his peers. Fortunately, Shen Qingqiu treated him with generosity and deep affection.”
He spoke with grandeur and musical inflection, vibrantly acting out each word, giving professional storytellers a run for their money.4 Shen Qingqiu subtly nodded. Right, before he had kicked Luo Binghe down into the Endless Abyss, you bet he was quite kindhearted.
Yang Yixuan snorted and said, “What use did that generosity and affection have? It still wasn’t…”
One person said, flabbergasted, “Isn’t this version of events the complete opposite of the rumor that Shen Qingqiu oppressed his disciples?”
Lu Liu said, “You’re already astonished at this? Then what are you going to do when I continue to explain the rumors that this pair of master and disciple were together day and night with sincere emotion born in secret?”
The three people at Shen Qingqiu’s table had taken a mouthful of tea, but upon hearing this sentence, Shen Qingqiu and Yang Yixuan simultaneously spat it out. Though Liu Mingyan didn’t spit out her mouthful, her hand shook, tilting her teacup and spilling tea all over the table.
The whole table sucked in a breath here and there: “There’s this sort of rumor?!”
Lu Liu said, “That’s right! But, strictly speaking, it was Luo Binghe harboring one-sided impure thoughts towards Shen Qingqiu, his own wishful thinking.”
His own wishful thinking? His own wishful thinking?!
“What sort of person was Shen Qingqiu? Qing Jing Peak’s Peak Lord. What was the way of Qing Jing Peak? Tranquility of heart and forsaking of desire, setting one’s heart on throwing oneself into the lawful path of cultivation. Shen Qingqiu saw through the mortal world and didn’t get tangled in the foolish sentiments of normal people. It was because that Luo Binghe sought something he failed to get that hate was born from love!”
Blue veins popped up on Shen Qingqiu’s forehead and the backs of his hands.
Yang Yixuan said, astonished, “H-hate born from love?”
Lu Liu continued, “Thinking of it this way, it’s very easy to explain everything else. The whole sequence of events at the Immortal Alliance Conference was definitely like this:
“Luo Binghe, as Qing Jing Peak’s head disciple, was sent to compete. Because of his remarkable performance, he was filled with confidence in himself. It just happened that at that time, demons ran loose within the sealed mountain and Shen Qingqiu entered Jue Di Gorge to provide backup. Luo Binghe was caught up in the moment and seized the opportunity to confess his true feelings to his Shizun.”
Shen Qingqiu facepalmed in pain.
Why, why does it always seem like for this person, out of every ten sentences there are nine that are not bad, but it’s always the last one that sounds so strange?
In addition, it’s exactly this sentence that changes the meaning of the whole incident into something so strange!
Lu Liu said solemnly, “Shen Qingqiu had a noble and unsullied character and naturally gave a firm rejection.”
Shen Qingqiu was faintly moved. Other than his Zhangmen Shixiong,5 he never expected to find an outsider willing to apply the phrase “noble and unsullied character” to his person. Who would have thought that immediately afterward the storyline would take a dramatic turn? Lu Liu said with a voice full of emotion, “Who could have guessed that after being rejected, Luo Binghe would become desperate? Overflowing with evil intent, he even lost his mind and went berserk. In a disgraceful and unfilial act, his desire led him to try and make Shen Qingqiu submit by force!”
Shen Qingqiu sunk his fingers into his head of messy hair, sunk in deep despair.
Yang Yixuan was already speechless. The gates of a whole new world had just been opened for that young man, and he was being battered by new perspectives. Liu Mingyan, on the other hand, just let out a soft “Ah.”
She only carefully said, “So it was like that.”
‘So it was like that’ what?!
Which ‘that’ is ‘that’ referring to?!
Don’t think I won’t fight you just because you’re the female protagonist!
Before they had noticed, a crowd of spectators had congregated at Lu Liu’s table to listen to the gossip, melon seeds and wooden benches covering the floor. Listening with rapt attention, they all sighed at this point, “What a beast of a person—”
“Not only a beast, simply worse than a beast—”
In the sound of these sighs, all seemed to have satisfied a matchless interest.
Big Brother, are you the captain of the border patrol squad or the gossip squad?!
Lu Liu abruptly slammed his teacup down like a gavel.6
“There’s no way Shen Qingqiu would be willing to submit! The master and disciple crossed swords. The end result was that the Shifu won an extra chip and Luo Binghe retreated in defeat, sadly making his exit.
“Even though they had an acrimonious falling-out and tore into each other, Shen Qingqiu still couldn’t bear to ruin the reputation of his beloved disciple. It wouldn’t do to explain things clearly, so he used the excuse that Luo Binghe had met his death at the hands of the Demon Race. Though he did preserve the reputation of this disciple, he wasn’t willing to go to extremes.
“So, this is the truth behind Luo Binghe’s years-long disappearance after the Immortal Alliance Conference and why he did not return to the Cang Qiong Mountain Sect even though he was not dead.
“It’s not that he didn’t want to see, it’s that he didn’t have the face to see his Shizun!”
On that end, his story was in full swing. On his end, Shen Qingqiu was watering his heart with tears.
What an intense storyline!
Who are these two—the assaulter and the white lotus flower Virgin Mary!?
The key is whether he was able to succeed in forcing himself or not—this is really dampening the point of a dam**d urgent issue. How could this happen to Luo Binghe? If he wanted to force himself on someone, who wouldn’t obediently spread their legs?!
Lu Liu said, “After the frustrating emotional affairs of the Immortal Alliance Conference, Luo Binghe had another fortuitous meeting. He trained until he gained exceptional achievements from head to toe, and even gained the favor of Huan Hua Temple’s Old Palace Master. But, he was still unwilling to give up on Shen Qingqiu. Returning in a swirl of dust, then occurred the events of Hua Yue City.
“Doesn’t Cang Qiong Mountain Sect all flatly insist that Luo Binghe is of the Demon Race? The way I see it, it’s not necessarily wind from an empty cave. Most likely, they discovered tiny hints that he was colluding with the Demon Race to slander Shen Qingqiu’s reputation.7 Shen Qingqiu was aloof and untouchable and Luo Binghe couldn’t come into his sight, so he wanted to pull Shen Qingqiu off his high horse. A complete bodily defeat and fall from grace would destroy his haughtiness!”
Shen Qingqiu didn’t know what he had let go of. In short, he suddenly felt his body and mind relax. He didn’t want to listen to anything or care about anything.
He said with a pleasant countenance to the other two, “Let’s order our dishes.”
Lu Liu took the chance to say, “Mister Peerless… you can count your table on my tab.”
Then turning back around, he continued with a tone full of grief and lament:
“Luo Binghe thought of every possible means to shut Shen Qingqiu in Huan Hua Temple’s water prison. You ask what he was up to? His rapacious designs were clear to see. Huan Hua Temple had long been in his pocket so he could command wind and cloud with a wave of his hand. They claimed to be keeping Shen Qingqiu in temporary custody pending the four sects’ joint investigation, but there was little difference from keeping a lamb in a tiger’s den. In those few days shut in the water prison, Shen Qingqiu was bound with Immortal-Binding Cables. Completely without spiritual energy, who knew what this perverse disciple did to him?!”
The crowd, in one voice, interjected in disgust, “What a perverse disciple!”
“Raising a tiger invites calamity!”
Shen Qingqiu threw aside his menu. “How about we go somewhere else.”
Lu Liu said, “Shen Qingqiu couldn’t bear this humiliation, and gathered up all his strength to escape. Who knew that he would be cut off in Hua Yue City by the search party that Luo Binghe sent? Cang Qiong Mountain Sect was of one heart, and Bai Zhan Peak’s Peak Lord Liu Qingge naturally went ahead to provide assistance. This attempt at assistance was met head-on by Luo Binghe.
“Luo Binghe’s seas of jealousy could overturn the heavens. Not allowing any explanation, he knocked Liu Qingge head over heels, hand raised for a ruthless killing stroke. Shen Qingqiu, with no other way out, could only self-destruct on the scene….henceforth….”
He didn’t continue on after that, profoundly leaving a blank space in his work, inviting a chorus of sighs from his audience.
Finally, Lu Liu arrived at his conclusion. “This is precisely the secretly spread alternate explanation. Even though it sounds a bit absurd and could be regarded as complete nonsense by some people, it does contain many details which give one something to consider. Gentlemen, remember at all costs that official histories are often whitewashed or embellished by official scribes, the actual facts being concealed, and that in many cases popular history is taken as official!”
The particulars are not even a little reliable, okay!
‘Official history’ your sister!
Big brother, even if I suffered a worse tragedy than not getting any sisters for twenty years I wouldn’t resort to becoming a cut-sleeve! Let alone hooking up with the male protagonist!
After the young waitress gracefully wove her way up to deliver the dishes, Yang Yixuan and Liu Mingyan were still staring blankly into the distance. Shen Qingqiu reprimanded, “Hurry up and eat. After you finish you should return without delay.”
Staying any longer in this sort of dangerous place—who knows what kind of attacks these two children would suffer against their lives, their worldviews, and their values!
After escorting the two juniors out of the borderlands, Shen Qingqiu picked a direction opposite to theirs.
Walking until the moon was high in the sky, his extremely keen hearing focused on an indistinct peal of demonic bells.
Shen Qingqiu said, not even turning his head, “You truly are the spirit that doesn’t disperse after death.”
Her whereabouts having been discovered, Sha Hualing didn’t plan on staying in hiding. Confidently strolling into view, red muslin at her wrists, she smiled. “Who taught you to make Ling-er so curious, sire? To treat those two so attentively, what sort of relationship does your distinguished self have with Cang Qiong Mountain?”
Shen Qingqiu turned around and said, waving his finger, “I’m not going to fight with you, and you shouldn’t get any ideas about fighting with me.” Weighing Sha Hualing’s current importance, she couldn’t defeat him. He was just thinking about giving her a scare when suddenly, his whole body gave a jolt. It felt like a thousand-legged centipede was boring its way through his organs.
Sha Hualing’s smiling expression took on a crafty bent. “Yes, I am no match for you, but do you think that means there’s no way to control you?”
Shen Qingqiu felt his legs go soft for a while but still stood firm. He clenched his teeth and said, “When did you make me eat it.”
Sha Hualing said coquettishly, “How was the food and drinks you had today? Were the waitress sisters pretty? Fortunately, you did eat it—if you were in a high state and fasting, refusing to let anything enter your mouth, it would really have given Ling-er a headache.”
Careless. At the time, his complete attention had been drawn in by the gossip squad captain’s lively and emotional performance. Gossip kills people, ah!
She circled a loop around Shen Qingqiu and said, immensely self-satisfied, “Do you know what’s currently in your body? This is certainly no ordinary poison.”
No kidding! This elder is more familiar with it than you. I’ve already eaten Heavenly Demons’ blood two times, two times!
Normally you eat it once and die once. Who won this lottery more times than me!
Other than the original master, no one can control the Heavenly Demons’ blood, and now the blood parasites were beginning to stir in his body. That could only mean one thing.
Sha Hualing suddenly bowed to something behind Shen Qingqiu, saying, “This subordinate did not fail you. I have captured this person just now.”
Shen Qingqiu stiffly turned his head.
Dark lightning had split in the air, creating a rift that was slowly closing.
A tall and slender silhouette stood behind him. As Shen Qingqiu turned his head, they finally met face-to-face.
Luo Binghe towered above him. Though his gaze was expressionless, under the gaze of those eyes like two cold pools, even another layer of facial hair or a mask would be like no disguise at all.
Shen Qingqiu fixed his gaze on him.
The former Luo Binghe, while cold, was like the reflection of warm sunlight on fresh snow. Even in Jin Lan City and the water prison, he had some traces of humanity, some faint facial expressions, and would lose control in anger. But this young man—his expression looked as if it had been frozen for a thousand years, directly conveying the fields of snow and glaciers in his core, and made others’ insides freeze over with fear.
Despite this, Shen Qingqiu’s current state of mind was not like what he had expected. It was difficult to explain since all sorts of emotions were tangled up in his mind, but the one emotion that most would have experienced was missing: fear.
Maybe it was because the best plan he had didn’t succeed in hiding him and that the stars had aligned to return them to their original places, but a state of tranquility and indifference settled over him.
A puzzled expression flashed across Luo Binghe’s face for a split second, making his face soften a bit. But quickly, this trace of softness dissipated, leaving no trace. His pupils suddenly contracted and an intricate red mark flickered on the center of his forehead.
Before his sleeves had finished a swing, Sha Hualing was suddenly hoisted into the air, coughing painfully like an incorporeal hand had snatched her by the neck.
At the same time, that drop of Heavenly Demon’s blood in Shen Qingqiu’s inner organs frantically split into thousands of threads, boring through his insides. Cold sweat soaked his back.
Luo Binghe said, lightly, “You’ve certainly got some guts.”
Though his tone was light, anyone could feel the violent rage hidden beneath the surface.
You’ve got some guts? Who is he speaking to—him or Sha Hualing?
Shen Qingqiu’s brain shifted into high gear. Luo Binghe shouldn’t have recognized him, even if this current face had a bit of resemblance to Shen Qingqiu’s original. Even if Luo Binghe’s perception was so meticulous that he could easily recognize minute differences through a layer of whiskers. It seems like he had recognized his resemblance to another….though this line of thinking bore no fruit. It would certainly be disastrous if he was recognized, but not being recognized didn’t lead anywhere good either!
- This chapter is by Lily.
- *gasp* The System is back!
- Everyone just refuses to remember the “Peerless Cucumber” name!
- “….the rumors that this pair of master and disciple were together day and night with sincere emotion born in secret?” I hope it’s clear enough what this “sincere emotion” is. Throughout the entire narration, Lu Liu speaks in a very G-rated but suggestive way.
- That spicy gossip about a Peak Lord and his disciple…
rofl. Is it me or can everyone (except for Shen Qingqiu) tell that Luo Binghe is madly in love? I love how the others just nodded their heads and were like “I see!”
- Many thanks to everyone who donated via Ko-fi (http://ko-fi.com/bcnovels) and those who became my Patron (https://www.patreon.com/join/bcnovels?).
- Please leave a comment if you can. I would
looooveto know your reaction! I obsessively read and reread all the comments, btw.
- 掩耳盗铃 (yǎn ěr dào líng), refers to a folktale about a bell thief who tried to get away with his crime by covering his own ears so he couldn’t hear the bell chime. The idiom refers to trying to deceive oneself.
- According to Baike, in ancient China shops used to have sign flags rather than signboards.
- The last name Huáng is written with the character 黄, meaning ‘yellow’. Huáng Huā is written 黄花, literally meaning ‘yellow flower’. The phrase can also refer to a ‘young virgin’ of any gender. Guāng Huá is written 光华, with the characters for ‘light’ and ‘magnificent’ or ‘flowery’. Remember that the original name he gave them was 绝世黄瓜 (jué shì huáng guā), meaning ‘Peerless Cucumber’.
- Many things to explain here. 摇头晃脑 (yáo tóu huàng nǎo), proverb referring to shaking your head back and forth as if you are very pleased with yourself, I chose to translate this as ‘grandeur’. 抑扬顿挫 (yì yáng dùn cuò), proverb referring to speaking with a rising and falling, almost musical, intonation. 说书 (shuō shū) is an ancient Chinese folk art consisting of storytelling to music.
- Yue Qingyuan, the sect master. It seems like this nickname means “do-gooder.”
- 惊堂木 (jīng táng mù), translates literally as ‘startle hall wood block’. Not technically a gavel, but basically the same thing. An oblong rectangular block used by ancient magistrates to get the attention of a large room.
- 蛛丝马迹 (zhū sī mǎ jì), lit. spider’s thread and horse track.