The cave was on the other side of a cliff and was connected to the main peak by a floating vine bridge. Formations had been placed outside to stop people from entering.
However, Qi Shu was allowed to enter.
Shizun’s spell formation never stopped him. In the last few months that the Heavenly Venerable Immortal had been in closed-door cultivation, Qi Shu often crossed the bridge to talk to his Shizun. Most of the time it was just a one-sided chat while he sat at the entrance of the cave, then left a bouquet of fresh flowers he had picked from the foot of the mountain, but today was a big day. The Immortal Venerable was leaving the cave so Qi Shu had to follow the crowd3 and obediently wait on the other side of the bridge.
The cliff was cold all year round, with the snow covering the branches of the trees being blown down by the freezing wind.
Qi Shu stood by the bridge while snow fell on his head and body.
“It’s so cold.” Behind him, a young disciple rubbed his hands and whispered, “I don’t know when the Immortal Venerable will come out.”
“Why are you so impatient?” Wei Jing glanced back at him. “I told you to practice the art of dispelling cold. Were you too lazy to do it? Be careful or I’ll report you to the Elder Instructors4.”
The young disciple hurriedly said, “No, no, Wei Shixiong,5 please forgive me. I’m just… I’m curious about what kind of person the Immortal Venerable is and I want to see him soon.”
The young disciple had entered the sect after Gu Hanjiang entered closed-door cultivation, so he has never seen the Heavenly Venerable Immortal, the head cultivator, with his own eyes.
“The Heavenly Venerable Immortal…” In front of his shidi, Wei Jing maintained a steady and reliable demeanor. He patted his sleeves and said solemnly, “The Heavenly Venerable Immortal’s cultivation is unfathomable. Famous known as the Lingxiao Sword6, he’s exterminated countless evil spirits.”
The young disciple said, “That sort of thing. Who doesn’t know about it?”
“I wasn’t finished talking yet.” Wei Jing continued, “The Immortal Venerable is unsmiling and very strict. We were always afraid of him taking an interest in our lessons. To be trained by him was to lose a layer of skin.7 Be careful. If he finds out that you can’t even use the art of dispelling cold after such a long time, you will definitely be punished.”
The young disciple shrank back and didn’t dare to complain about the cold anymore.
“Little Five, you’re looking for a spanking8, right?” Qi Shu said coldly, without turning his head.
In the early year, when the Heavenly Venerable Immortal was acting as the first head, the Kunlun sect hadn’t yet recruited many disciples. Apart from Qi Shu, who was a direct disciple of the Immortal Venerable, there were only four other disciples who had been accepted by the current sect master.
Later on, when there were more disciples in the sect, their relationship was not as close as that of the first five disciples.
Wei Jing, the youngest of the five martial brothers, was especially close and clingy to Qi Shu and was used to being spoiled and acting cheeky in front of him.
Thus, when Qi Shu lectured him, Wei Jing wasn’t cowed and even stepped forward, saying, “Shixiong, did I say anything wrong? Has there ever been a time when the Heavenly Venerable Immortal taught us without punishing us severely?”
Qi Shu said, “Shizun has never punished me.”
“…” Wei Jing was silent for a moment, then turned his head and said to the young disciple solemnly, “There’s something else you should remember. Heavenly Venerable Immortal is the best shield, but for our Da Shixiong9.”
“Lu Shixiong, our second senior martial brother, the eldest disciple of the sect leader, knows. When he was a child, he refused to obey Qi Shixiong. They made an appointment to fight in the back mountain. Guess what?” Wei Jing said, “Lu Shixiong lost his sword, but he broke the jade pendant that Qi Shixiong was wearing since childhood. Lu Shixiong was confined at the back of the mountain for half a year.”
The young disciple, “…”
Qi Shu, “…”
Qi Shu said, “Shut up.”
Wei Jing shrugged and stopped talking.
Not long after, there was the sound of hurried footsteps coming from behind him.
“Greetings to the Acting Sect Leader!10”
Everyone bowed and saluted him. The newcomer’s quick steps slowed, and he cleared his throat, saying, “Raise your heads.”
Immortal Venerable Qing Lan’s face still looked young, but his hair was already white. He’d obviously rushed over so that even his crown was a little crooked.
He was followed by two people, He Xingzhi and Mo Qi, the fourth eldest disciple in the sect.
The two disciples saluted Qi Shu. Qi Shu returned the salute and said with a smile, “Don’t worry, Acting Sect Master. He’s not out yet. It’s not too late.”
“That’s good, that’s good.” Immortal Venerable Qing Lan straightened his crown, obviously relieved. Why does Immortal Venerable Qing Lan, who has known his Shizun for decades and is a fellow disciple under the same master, act as though he is looking at someone extremely dangerous11 when he sees Shizun?
The sect master even started preparing half a month earlier before the Heavenly Venerable Immortal leaving seclusion, gathering all the disciples in the sect who have outstanding talent to welcome him back.
Was all that really necessary?
Qi Shu played with the small fox pendant hanging on his sword and thought silently in his heart.
Only Qi Shu knew how patient, gentle, and meticulous his Shizun was.
Only he had ever seen it.
After about another incense stick’s worth of time, there was a movement at the cave entrance on the other side of the vine bridge.
A pale white light shot up from the cave entrance, a sign that Immortal Venerable’s seclusion had ended.
Amid the light, someone slowly walked out.
Dressed in white, remote as ice, a person appeared. There was a faint flow of spiritual power all over his body that was colder than the wind and snow falling at the summit of the cliff.
The disciples kneeled down and said, “Congratulations on exiting seclusion Heavenly Venerable Immortal.”
Immortal Qing Lan also bowed and said respectfully, “Congratulations on completing seclusion, Shixiong.”
Among the crowd, only Qi Shu still stood in place.
Because of his cold and harsh temperament, most people who saw him were in awe, so they neglected to notice the Heavenly Venerable Immortal’s appearance.
In fact, the Heavenly Venerable Immortal was very beautiful.
Qi Shu prefers to use the word “beauty” to describe that face, rather than any other word.
He has delicate features, a high-bridged nose, and thin lips. On any other person, this would probably make them look less heroic and more feminine.
But not him.
His awe-inspiring and solemn temperament neutralized the softness of his features. Every inch of his body seems to have been carefully crafted by the heavenly Dao; just a smidgeon more or less and it wouldn’t be as perfect as his current appearance.
Qi Shu was a little distracted, but when he had come back to his senses, the Heavenly Venerable Immortal had already stepped onto the vine bridge and was walking towards him step by step.
Qi Shu regained his composure and knelt down to say his greetings, “Disciple Qi Shu welcomes Shizun from out of his seclusion.”
Gu Hanjiang stood in front of him.
“What are you doing here?” His voice was very calm and cold.
I haven’t seen him for so many years, and this was the first thing he said.
His Shizun was really the insensitive type12.
While Qi Shu was still busy complaining silently in his heart13 when Immortal Venerable Qing Lan, who was next to him, spoke up. “Shixiong… Shixiong has been in seclusion for many years. Meanwhile, the Kunlun Sword Sect has been thriving, so I came to… meet Shixiong.
Qi Shu could tell that the Acting Sect Master was trying hard to compose himself, but his trembling voice betrayed his nervousness.
Sure enough, Gu Hanjiang said indifferently, “A large crowd14.”
This tone is a little unhappy.
For a moment, even the surrounding air was much colder.
Among the disciples present, only Qi Shu dared to quietly raise his head and look at the man, but he didn’t expect that Gu Hanjiang was also looking at him.
The two men’s eyes met, and Gu Hanjiang was the first to look away.
“Go back.” Gu Hanjiang’s tone was cold and calm.
Qi Shu didn’t move and looked at him without saying a word.
“… I have something to discuss with the Acting Sect Master.”
Qi Shu said, “Oh.”
He paused, then saluted obediently. “Yes, Shizun.”
It was already dusk when Gu Hanjiang returned to his residence.
The place where the Heavenly Venerable Immortal lived was a specially carved out solitary peak called Bai Zhang Peak15. On this mountain, a formation reverses the natural order, so, unlike the main peak which was snowy all year round, Qi Shu could plant a peach forest on Bai Zhang Peak.
Deep in the peach forest, there are quiet and elegant pavilions and water pergolas.
Gu Hanjiang stepped on the stone bridge in front of the waterside pavilion and suddenly stopped. He said, “Come out.”
Qi Shu came out from behind the pavilion. He wasn’t embarrassed about being caught and walked over with a smile. “Shizun, why have you been gone so long? I have waited for you for a long time.”
Gu Hanjiang said, “Why didn’t you go to the house and wait?”
Qi Shu said, “I wanted to see Shizun earlier.”
Gu Hanjiang’s eyes fluttered slightly, but he didn’t say anything. He just turned his head and walked straight towards the house.
“Shizun, wait for me.”
Qi Shu quickly stepped forward and pushed the door open for him when he reached the door, welcoming him inside.
When the Heavenly Venerable Immortal was away, Qi Shu was the only person looking after Bai Zhang Peak. When he learned his Shizun was coming back, he had thoroughly cleaned up Bai Zhang peak inside and out, so he might know the layout of the house better than Gu Hanjiang himself.
Qi Shu respectfully helped Gu Hanjiang to the table, poured him a cup of hot tea, and then served him quietly.
He was clever and quick-witted, like the best disciple in the world.
No one knows what this good disciple has in mind.
Gu Hanjiang took the tea but made no move to drink it. He said, “Give me your hand.”
Qi Shu blinked, obediently sat down opposite him and extended a hand.
Gu Hanjiang placed two fingers on his wrist to examine his pulse.
The Heavenly Venerable Immortal was born with an icy appearance. Even his slender hand and fingers were cold and pale.
Qi Shu stared at the other man’s rounded fingertips and was so lost in thought that he almost didn’t hear his Shizun’s question.
“Who hurt you?”
Qi Shu replied, “A scaled dragon16 demon.”
“Even a small scaled dragon demon can hurt you like this?” Gu Hanjiang frowned and asked, “Is it dead?”
Qi Shu said, “Yes, it’s dead.”
Heavenly Venerable Immortal was quite satisfied with this answer, and after a moment, he withdrew his hand. “Your internal injuries have not yet healed, and your spiritual power has been damaged. Later I will write a prescription, and you can go to the Medicine Hall17 to get some pills.”
Qi Shu didn’t answer.
Gu Hanjiang seldom talks and in the past, it was Qi Shu who was always chattering. Today’s silence was really abnormal.
Gu Hanjiang raised his eyes.
The latter obediently lowered his eyes and whispered, “Shizun, there’s still an injury…”
Naturally, Gu Hanjiang hadn’t failed to see that.
Qi Shu had fair that would turn red with just a gentle bump. Right now, his face had a few thin eye-catching wounds that had scabbed over.
Gu Hanjiang asked, “Did you run out of medicine for your injuries?”
Qi Shu was very concerned about his appearance, but he was a cultivator who roams the world subduing monsters and eliminating demons, so it was impossible for him to always remain unscathed. That’s why Gu Hanjiang made him a spiritual medicine. Whether it was a bump or a wound, all Qi Shu had to do was to apply it, and he would recover in two days.
Qi Shu still didn’t answer. His bright eyes were hidden behind the eyelashes. Anyone could see that he was deliberately acting like a spoiled child18.
He was waiting for his Shizun to coax him.
Gu Hanjiang gazed at him solemnly for a long time before withdrawing his gaze with a sigh. “Fetch the wound medicine.”
The Heavenly Venerable Immortal’s special ointment has a faint mint fragrance and is cold and refreshing to apply.
Qi Shu sat in quietly while Gu Hanjiang stood in front of him and lowered his head to apply the medicine.
Gu Hanjiang was taller than Qi Shu, and when he bent over him like this, his body could almost completely cover Qi Shu. His pretty fingers were stained with the white ointment as he applied it in circles on Qi Shu’s cheeks. It felt a little cold and tickled him a bit.
Qi Shu suddenly regretted it a little.
He was no longer the teenage boy of a few years ago.
Teenagers are impulsive, but their emotions could be controlled, which was different from the vigorous youth he was now.
He really couldn’t control it.
Qi Shu looked away and tried his best to keep his breathing steady.
He hadn’t seen Shizun for too long, and the longing hadn’t lessened at all. Instead, it had grown stronger with each passing day, so that it was far more difficult to overcome than he had thought.
With his Shizun’s face so close to his, feeling his icy breath, and even the familiar smell of incense on his body made Qi Shu feel… that he couldn’t bear it.
The lower lip that he was biting was gently poked, and Qi Shu suddenly returned to his senses.
Gu Hanjiang frowned at him. “Why are you biting? Does it hurt?”
“No, it doesn’t hurt.”
Qi Shu felt so hot that he was a little confused. Half in a trance, he tried to get up, but Gu Hanjiang pressed down on his shoulder.
Qi Shu: “?”
“Don’t you have other injuries on your body?” Gu Hanjiang said calmly, “Take off your clothes.”
Qi Shu froze, and his ears turned red.
- Can you guess who the top/gong/seme is?
- I think I went overboard with the translation notes, lol!
- This story is just 23 chapters so I’d like to take my time with the project. I’m currently working solo on it. Let me know if you’re interested in helping.
- My whole family, including me, have come down with either COVID or the flu. We can’t get tested so we don’t know for sure. I think we’ll be okay, but I’ll be resting and drinking lots of water in the meantime.
- Please let me know if there are errors so I can fix them. This is edited MTL.
- Thanks for reading!
- 凌霄仙尊 Ling Xiao Xianzun – this seems to be a title denoting a senior cultivator of an older generation. I guess something like Lingxiao Immortal Venerable would also be an excellent translation. Lingxiao in this context would mean “reach the clouds;soar to the skies.”
- 灵虚洞 – Lingxu Cave
- 随大流 – to follow the crowd; going with the tide
- 授课长老 – the elders in charge of teaching the disciples
- 师兄 Shixiong means “elder martial brother” which is a term disciples use for their seniors in the sect who are in the same generation.
- 凌霄剑 Literally “soaring to the skies sword,” but if translated I should give it a better-sounding awesome cool name like “Heavenly Soaring Sword” or something similar.
- Uh, meaning he spanked them?
- 皮痒 literally “itchy” but it’s slang for “looking for a spanking.”
- 大师兄 – Da Shixiong. The most senior of the disciples
- The disciples used the term 代掌门 or “Acting Sect Leader” but I don’t know why he isn’t just “sect leader.”
- 洪水猛兽 – An idiom about “severe floods and fierce beasts” or something very threatening
- 不解风情 – unromantic or insensitive
- 腹诽 – silent curse or disagreement; unspoken criticism
- 劳师动众 – an idiom meaning “mobilize too many troops” or “drag in lots of people”
- 百丈峰 – Hundred Zhang Peak. A zhang is an ancient unit of measurement (3.3 meters), but this shouldn’t be taken literally. As a description, it doesn’t mean literally “330 meters mountain.” It’s more like “Lofty Peak” or “High Mountain Peak,” IMO.
- 蛟 Jiao or Jiaolong. A legendary aquatic creature, possibly like a crocodile.
- 凝丹堂 – Condensing Pellet Hall. I reckon this won’t be too important in the future, so I’ve simplified it to Medicine Hall
- 撒娇 – to act like a spoiled child; to throw a tantrum; to act coquettishly.