The Heavenly Venerable Immortal brought Qi Shu to the Kunlun Sword Sect when he was twelve or thirteen years old.
His hometown was raided and everyone in the village was slaughtered while he hid inside a dry well for three days and three nights until a white light came down from the sky and lifted him up like a warm hug.
When the white light dissipated, he saw his Shizun.
In those first bleak days at Kunlun, Qi Shu was still in shock at the destruction of his family, so Gu Hanjiang took care of him by taking his meals and living together with Qi Shu.
This is not the first time that his Shizun applied medicine or that Qi Shu took his clothes off in front of him.
But today, Qi Shu felt that something was strange.
When Shizun said those words, he was calm and serious, as if he didn’t think there was anything out of the ordinary.
Only Qi Shu felt that something was wrong1.
Qi Shu was eager to flee2, but Gu Hanjiang’s hand was still on his shoulder. Although the pressure of his hand was very light and the palm was cold, but it was impossible to resist, so all he could do was use his trembling hands to undo the belt3 while his Shizun watched.
The immortal’s robe was as soft as silk. When Qi Shu loosened its collar, the robe slid down his shoulder, revealing a small patch of white skin.
Qi Shu was so nervous that he didn’t dare to lift his head. That was why he didn’t notice when his Shizun suddenly looked away, nor Gu Hanjiang’s slightly disordered breathing.
“Turn around.” Gu Hanjiang’s voice was low.
Qi Shu made a soft “Oh” sound, then obediently turned around.
There was a deep scar on the back of his shoulder that had scabbed and was still bright red around the wound.
When he had been hunting demons in the Reflecting Mist Mountain, the scaled dragon demon had struck Qi Shu with its claws. The demon’s claws must have been poisoned because it didn’t heal for several days. In addition, the wound’s location at the back of his shoulder was hard to tend to, so Qi Shu had neglected to treat it.
“This might hurt,” Gu Hanjiang whispered. “Bear with it.”
Qi Shu had fought fiercely with the demon for three days and three nights without so much as wincing at his internal and external injuries. Therefore, enduring a bit of pain while his wound was being treated was nothing. He was just about to nod his head when his body suddenly became stiff.
Gu Hanjiang’s fingers that had been dipped in the ointment gently touched on his shoulder.
Perhaps for fear of hurting him, Gu Hanjiang’s movements were gentle and meticulous, which made the already minor pain almost negligible. The skin of the wounded area was already sensitive, so when it was gently stroked, the cold sensation Qi Shu felt from the minty ointment was quickly replaced by a tingling that seemed to seep into the very marrow of his bones.
Qi Shu leaned sideways on the back of the chair, fingers clenched in his collar, and subconsciously bit his lips.
This first aid treatment had turned into torture.
Feeling the trembling of the muscle under the hand, Gu Hanjiang asked, “Does it hurt that much?”
“…Mm,” Qi Shu answered in a soft voice.
How was he supposed to explain it?
Because I haven’t seen Shizun for such a long time, I can’t bear being teased like this. Can even good medicine cause an unwanted reaction?
Qi Shu quietly curled up his legs, and his eyes turned a little red. To any outsider, he must look like he was in pain. Even his voice sounded weak when he said, “Is, is it done?”
“It’s done.” Gu Hanjiang straightened up and frowned unhappily. “I let you travel down the mountain, but how can you be more fragile than before?”
I’m not being fragile! I’m restraining myself because I don’t want to scare Shizun away!
That’s what Qi Shu thought angrily.
He got up and tidied up his clothes before he realized what Gu Hanjiang had said. “Shizun means that it really was your order when I was told to travel down the mountain?”
The Heavenly Venerable Immortal’s seclusion and Qi Shu’s travel down the mountain had both been unexpected4.
Qi Shu remembered the day of Heavenly Venerable Immortal’s departure. He had woken up early, as usual, to greet Shizun, only to find the house empty. He hadn’t found out what had happened until the morning class when Elder Qing Lan announced he would act as the head of the sect.
Cultivators5 can remain in seclusion for months or even up to three to five years. Naturally, Qi Shu was unhappy that his Shizun had left without saying goodbye, but he was only a disciple, so he couldn’t complain about his Shizun’s decision.
During that time, except when he was training, he would run to the entrance of the Spiritual Void Cave and wait there all day. He waited for more than a year until the acting Sect Leader ordered him to travel down the mountain.
The Kunlun Sword Sect never forced its disciples to travel down the mountain. The Acting Sect Leader merely said cryptically that Qi Shu was no longer a child and that he should go down the mountain to see the world now that he had completed his training, but Qi Shu understood the meaning hidden behind those words.
The Heavenly Venerable Immortal was in a critical period of his cultivation. The way that Qi Shu was keeping vigil at the Spiritual Void Cave might affect his6 cultivation.
When Qi Shu saw the expression of embarrassment on the face of the Acting Sect Leader and the magical tools that had been packed in advance for him, Qi Shu felt as though he was being driven out7.
Therefore, Qi Shu was a little resentful when he went down the mountain.
When he heard this question, the Heavenly Venerable Immortal who rarely hesitated slowly put down the ointment and sat back down before answering. He whispered, “Yes.”
It’s just as he expected.
Qi Shu breathed a sigh of relief.
After such a long time, the resentment in his heart had already disappeared.
In fact, Qi Shu went a bit too far back then. What kind of disciple did nothing except run to his master’s cave retreat and guard the entrance for more than a year?
The fact that his Shizun didn’t beat him up during that time could already be considered as giving him face.
Qi Shu said sincerely, “I shouldn’t have disturbed Shizun’s retreat. I know I was wrong.”
“I never—” Gu Hanjiang said.
Qi Shu blinked.
This is a rare thing. The Heavenly Venerable Immortal is highly respected by thousands of people. He is a person with a cold and solemn temperament. Since when was he the type who would hesitate to speak like this?
Gu Hanjiang: “… It’s nothing.”
“But Shizun wanted to say something just now,” said Qi Shu.
“No.” Gu Hanjiang clearly didn’t want to talk to him anymore. With an expressionless face, he drove away his guest. “Since you’re injured, go and rest.”
Qi Shu was dreaming again.
In the dream, the Heavenly Venerable Immortal was sitting on a boulder at the top of the cliff, meditating with his eyes closed. The snow was flying on the top of the cliff, but it could not come near him at all. His cultivation was unstable and a faint dark aura was rising from between his tightly furrowed brows.
Qi Shu wanted to wake him up, but just like the previous times, he couldn’t make a sound or even get close to him.
So he could only watch as the dark aura grew stronger, gradually swallowing up the spiritual light around Gu Hanjiang until his form was completely engulfed.
Gu Hanjiang had a look of pain on his face. Suddenly, his body shook, and he spat out a large mouthful of blood.
The snow in front of him was stained with blood. Qi Shu raised his head and met Shizun’s eyes, which had turned bright red and cold.
Qi Shu washed his face with water, drops of water slowly sliding down his chin.
His dream was becoming more and more absurd, but also more real.
Qi Shu crouched over the pond in front of his house and looked at the gathering darkness and the moon hanging high in the sky, feeling helpless.
He dreamt an outrageous dream and, just like the other times, now he wouldn’t be able to sleep again tonight.
It’s been a hell of a day.
Qi Shu sighed and wiped the water off his face. He was going to go back to the house to meditate when he heard a sound in the night.
The sound of something being broken.
The silent emptiness of Bai Zhang Peak at night made the sound even more startling. He and the Heavenly Venerable Immortal were the only two people at Bai Zhang Peak, so it was obvious where this noise was coming from.
Qi Shu went to the door of Gu Hanjiang’s house and knocked. “Shizun, are you awake?”
No one responded.
Qi Shu frowned.
The house was quiet, and the candles had gone out, which meant that no one was awake inside.
But that sound he had heard was real.
Qi Shu waited for a moment and when he still didn’t get a response, he whispered, “Shizun, pardon my intrusion.”
He pushed the door open and went in.
The room was dark. Fortunately, cultivators have excellent eyesight, which was unaffected by darkness. Qi Shu went to the inner room, but he didn’t see anyone. The only thing he saw was a broken teacup on the floor.
And the tea that had been spilled.
The bedding was in disarray. Qi Shu touched the beddings and found that it was cold.
Qi Shu suddenly panicked.
The same thing happened last time. He had woken up to find that his Shizun had disappeared.
Qi Shu was about to straighten up when he suddenly felt a dangerous presence approaching. He hadn’t thought to bring his sword with him when he left his room, so Qi Shu formed a blade with his hand and struck hard behind him.
But a pair of ice-cold hands caught his wrists.
The hands were powerful. With a slight twist of his wrists, Qi Shu was pressed onto the bed.
A cold body covered from behind.
Qi Shu recognized who it was.
The hazy moonlight spilled into the house through the window. Qi Shu turned his head and saw Gu Hanjiang’s beautiful face, devoid of sadness and joy. There was a trace of a black aura in the middle of his eyebrows.
That was the sign of a Qi Deviation8.
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- Qi Deviation – A state wherein the cultivation base becomes dangerously unstable, causing internal damage to the body and symptoms of psychosis. Source: Wuxiaworld.
- This is only the third chapter, but our dear MC was already pressed down on the bed. What do you think will happen next?
- The rest of my family has recovered from COVID, but I am still sick. 🙁 This is already my 18th day of being ill. I wanna get better already! Any tips?
- Please let me know if there are any errors.
- Thanks for reading!
- To be specific, 不对劲 means “not in harmony; feeling not at par; listless”
- Literally “to fling an escape talisman.
- Omitted the phrase “which he had carefully put on this morning” since I couldn’t fit it in anymore.
- Literally “happened without advance warning” 事先都毫无征兆.
- The word used here was 修士 which is a monk or member of a religious order, but I didn’t want to use that since I believe “cultivator” is a better term.
- I am not sure if this means it will (negatively) affect Qi Shu or his Shizun’s cultivation. Maybe both?
- The idiom used here is 扫地出门 which means “being driven out of his house and deprived of everything” or “be swept out like rubbish.”
- Qi Deviation (走火入魔) is literally “to catch fire and be entered [possessed] by devils.” It’s a state where the cultivator becomes mentally unstable.