Qi Shu knew little about the furnace physique.
In the cultivation world, there was no shortage of cultivators who, in search of a shortcut, turned a good person into a furnace in order to take their cultivation. However, a natural furnace physique was extremely rare, so much so that Qi Shu has only read a few words about it in an ancient book.
In the early morning in the library pavilion, there was a sudden cry of alarm. Dozens of books fell from the tall shelves, raising a cloud of dust.
Mo Qi walked quickly through the rows of bookshelves and saw a mountain of books piled up on the floor, with someone buried under it. All he could see was the hem of that person’s plain-looking clothes.
“Who are you?” Mo Qi, still holding a book in his hand, frowned and crossed his arms. “Which Sect Elder’s disciple are you? Don’t you know ordinary disciples aren’t allowed to borrow these books? Why weren’t you at the morning class, and how did you sneak in here without me seeing you?”
A hand emerged from under the mountain of books.
Mo Qi said, “Qi Shixiong?!”
“It’s me.” Qi Shu, whose whole body had been buried by the books, rubbed his temple where the spine of a book had hit him. “I didn’t sneak in this morning because I never left last night.”
“Oh, Da Shixiong, what are you doing again…? Can’t you just tell me what book you’re looking for? How did this happen…?” Mo Qi rushed forward to pull Qi Shu up from under the pile of books before giving the mess a heartbroken look. “These are all out-of-print ancient books. How long will I have to spend getting them back in order…?”
“I only wanted to find a book. How would I know that there were so many?” Qi Shu patted his clothes, shaking off the dust of the books he’d been buried under, and said, “Why are you here?”
Mo Qi squatted on the floor and picked up the books one by one. He was silent for a moment after listening to Qi Shu’s question. Then he said, “Shixiong, you weren’t in Kunlun these past three years, so you don’t know that I’m in charge of the library pavilion, right?”
Qi Shu blinked.
He really didn’t know.
Mo Qi was the fourth disciple of the sect and was under the tutelage of the Acting Sect Leader Immortal Venerable Qing Lan. This kid had been a bookish person since childhood who spent more time in the library than training, which was something that had caused him to be punished a lot when they were young.
Now it seems he has been given charge of the library, which was a good use of his talent.
When Mo Qi picked up a pile of books and headed out, Qi Shu thought about this matter for a few moments, then chased after him saying, “I’ll help you!”
The two went back and forth several times and moved all the books that Qi Shu had knocked down to the front hall, where they could be reclassified before they could be returned.
Qi Shu put the last stack of books on the table and leaned on the edge of the table. He said, “I say, Fourth Shidi1, don’t rush around.I’ll help you sort it out later. Can do me a favor first?”
“Forget it. Who doesn’t know that Shixiong feels sleepy whenever he sees a book? How could I dare ask you to help?” said Mo Qi. “Just tell me what you want.”
Qi Shu smiled happily since the other person had given him exactly the answer that he was looking for.“That’s right. I’m not as good as Mo Shidi who has an exceptional ability to remember 2 the things he’s read. You’ve been looking after these books for many years, so you’ve read all of them, right?”
Mo Qi gave him a look as though there was something he wanted to say, but stopped himself before he spoke.
“Shixiong, do you know how many books are in the library pavilion?” asked Mo Qi.
“How many are there?” asked Qi Shu.
“Thirty-seven thousand, five hundred and sixty-three books.”
“…” Qi Shu said, “How precise!”
Mo Qi put down the books he was holding. “What I mean is, even if I never sleep, I wouldn’t be able to read all the books here.”
“Then how much have you read?” asked Qi Shu.
Mo Qi thought about it carefully. “Only a little over twenty-three thousand books.”
Qi Shu: “…”
He didn’t think there was much difference between that number and reading them all.
Qi Shu cleared his throat. “I want you to help me find a book.”
“I remember that there was a book in the library that talked about a Cultivation Furnace Body. I read it when I was a child, but now I can’t find it.”
Mo Qi, who was tidying up the books, abruptly ceased his movements. He got up, checked to see if anyone was inside the library, then slammed the door shut with a bang.
“What are you doing?” asked Qi Shu.
“I’m the one who should be asking you that!” Mo Qi said anxiously. “Shixiong, keeping a cultivation furnace is forbidden. If you were to be found out, you’d be expelled from the sect! You have such a high level of cultivation, and you’re the Heavenly Venerable Immortal’s personal succeeding disciple, why don’t you drop this idea?”
“No, I’m not… I don’t…” said Qi Shi.
“Then why were you looking for that book?” asked Mo Qi
Qi Shu was silent.
Of course, he was looking for the book to find out how to help his Shizun, but this couldn’t be revealed to outsiders.
Qi Shu thought for a moment, then said solemnly, “If I tell you, you have to keep it a secret for me.”
“Naturally,” said Mo Qi.
Qi Shu sighed and said in a disappointed and frustrated tone of voice, “In fact, I’m trying to save someone.”
“When I went down the mountain to gain worldly experience, I met someone and fell in love at first sight, but recently II learned that this person3 has a natural furnace physique. Some time ago, this person encountered a cultivation bottleneck and nearly had a Qi Deviation. If a way out of this can’t be found, I’m afraid that this person’s life is in danger. Fourth Shidi, you said I rarely like someone. How did this happen to me…?” As he spoke, Qi Shu’s voice shook, and he looked so sad that anyone who heard it would have been moved.
Mo Qi’s expression softened, and he patted Qi Shu on the shoulder, saying, “Shixiong, I didn’t expect you to be such a sentimental person.”
Qi Shu was taken to a more comfortable4 inner room in the library pavilion, where he waited until Mo Qi came back with a stack of books that he put down on the table in front of him, raising a cloud of dust.
“These are all the books about cultivation furnaces in the pavilion.”
Qi Shu looked at the mountain of books that were taller than he was, and his jaw dropped. “All of these?”
“That’s all for now. There might be more that I haven’t found yet. I’ll have to look again,” said Mo Qi. Giving Qi Shu a meaningful look, Mo Qi patted him on the shoulder and said solemnly, with a meaningful look, “Good luck5, Qi Shixiong.”
Then Mo Qi closed the door of the inner room and left.
Qi Shu has never been fond of reading. Before he became a disciple of the Kunlun Sect, he lived in a poor village where he hadn’t had the opportunity to learn how to read. It was his Shizun who taught him how to read and write, but he much preferred to train with the sword and spear or cultivate.
Mo Qi had just given him more books than he had ever read in his entire life.
But for his Shizun, he would endure it.
Qi Shu took a deep breath, picked up the book closest to him, and opened it.
A moment later, he closed the book.
What the hell did it say?
Most ancient books used obscure words. Sometimes, even when he could identify every character individually, he couldn’t understand the way that they were combined. This was the reason Qi Shu didn’t like to read.
But this won’t do.
Based on Shizun’s reaction yesterday, Qi Shu knew it was impossible to tell him the truth6. If he didn’t do something, he could only watch while things continued as they were. In the long run, the best-case scenario might be a Qi Deviation, but the worst-case scenario was that his life might be in danger.
So he had to find a way.
Qi Shu put the book back and took out another one from the stack.
This book looked much newer, and the cover was illustrated with two simple stick figures, but no title was written on it.
Qi Shu opened the first page, and in the bottom right corner was a small line in beautiful calligraphy:
—“Secret Method of Spiritual Cultivation: How to dual cultivate with a furnace.”
Qi Shu: “……”
It was getting dark, but Mo Qi was still sorting the ancient books that Qi Shu had messed up. The flame of the candle on his table flickered as someone walked in.
Mo Qi didn’t even look up: “It’s almost curfew time. Disciples may not enter the Library Pavillion now. Please come earlier tomorrow.”
The visitor kept walking towards Mo Qi.
“Don’t you understand? I said-” Mo Qi looked up and froze.
The man in front of him was dressed in plain white robes and his expression was as cold as ice.
“I-I-Immortal- Immortal Venerable!” Mo Qi almost fell off his chair in his haste to kneel. “Disciple Greets Immortal Master.”
Gu Hanjiang’s eyes lighted on him for only a moment before moving away indifferently. He said in an icy voice, “Is your Qi Shixiong here?”
“Qi, Qi Shixiong, he…” Mo Qi’s tongue seemed to tie itself in knots, so he simply pointed a trembling finger toward the inner room.
Gu Hanjiang ignored him and walked straight in that direction.
His steps were steady, not too fast or too slow, but from head to toe he gave off an intimidating aura7 of a person who shouldn’t be carelessly approached.
It wasn’t until the Heavenly Venerable Immortal’s figure disappeared among the bookshelves that Mo Qi’s breath slowed down and he fell to the floor, traumatized.
Every day, the Heavenly Venerable Immortal became more and more frightening. Mo Qi really didn’t know how Qi Shixiong could get along with him.
Wait a minute…
The Immortal Venerable rarely leaves Bai Zhang Peak, much less comes to a place like the Library Pavillion. He was so angry today and had been searching for several nights in a row. He couldn’t have found out about Qi Shixiong’s sweetheart that he had met in the secular world, could he?
Mo Qi was shocked.
No, it couldn’t be.
The Heavenly Venerable Immortal didn’t care what other people were thinking. He arrived at the inner room and was about to knock on the door when he saw the scene inside the room through the gap in the door.
Qi Shu lay on the small desk with his back to the door, motionless, as if he had fallen asleep.
Gu Hanjiang thought for a moment, condensed Qi at his fingertips, and gently pushed the door open.
He walked in silently.
Each inner room was for the sect’s disciples to use when they studied. They only had enough room for a table and not much else.
Qi Shu had long arms and legs, so he could only curl up on top of the table. It looked really uncomfortable.
His hair hadn’t been gathered up in a crown but tied with a simple headband instead. A few strands of his hair hung down in front of his forehead, and he had been running around the library all day long, so his face was still covered with dust from somewhere. He looked dirty, like a cat8.
“Shizun…” Qi Shu seemed troubled. His brows were furrowed, and he moved restlessly in his sleep. “Don’t ignore me…”
Gu Hanjiang’s eyes widened9.
He stood beside Qi Shu and said in a very soft voice. “All night long he didn’t return, and now he obviously intends to spend another night here. Clearly, you’re the one who ignored me.”
Cultivators are sensitive to their surroundings, and Qi Shu’s sleep was uneasy, so he felt that someone was approaching and opened his eyes in a daze.
“Shizun?” He rubbed his eyes and said, “How did you-”
As he was getting up, his numb leg was caught on a table leg and he fell back down. “Argh, this stupid table. Ahem, Shizun, ah… What brings you here?”
“It’s almost curfew time. I was looking for you,” said Gu Hanjiang.
“Huh?” Qi Shu froze for a moment before noticing that it was already dark outside. “So it’s so late, sorry Shizun, I-”
“Why didn’t you return last night?” Gu Hanjiang interrupted him.
“I…” Qi Shu scratched his head, a little embarrassed.
He hadn’t meant to not return, but there was really no cure for his condition. He always felt sleepy after reading, and yesterday no one found him when he fell asleep in the Library Pavillion when he slept from before curfew until early this morning.
Gu Hanjiang suddenly asked, “Are you afraid of me?”
“Huh?” Qi Shu froze.
Gu Hanjiang stood in front of Qi Shu, looking down at him. Though his expression was cold and emotionless, Qi Shu understood what he meant.
That night Gu Hanjiang nearly had a Qi Deviation and did something… he wouldn’t normally do to Qi Shu. Although Qi Shu didn’t care about that, the fact that he had stayed out all night and the next day was enough to make the other person misunderstand.
“I wasn’t hiding from Shizun!” Qi Shu didn’t care whether or not it was embarrassing. He quickly explained, “I came to the library yesterday just to read more books. As a result, I accidentally fell asleep. It was daybreak when I woke up, so I didn’t return. The disciple really didn’t mean to hide from Shizun. Shizun, please believe me.”
Gu Hanjiang listened to him quietly, then stared at his face for a moment before turning away.
“?” Qi Shu wondered if he had really seen it right. “Shizun, did you just smile?”
Gu Hanjiang: “…”
Gu Hanjiang: “No.”
“Hmm. You just laughed, right?” said Qi Shu. “Was it funny?”
“Yes.” Gu Hanjiang actually nodded seriously and whispered, “You’ve been like this since you were a child.”
Qi Shu got the best grades in swordplay class, but flunked his class on the Analects of Confucius and the ancient classics. He fell asleep whenever he read a book, and Gu Hanjiang had to carry his sleeping disciple back several times.
Qi Shu didn’t like to hear Gu Hanjiang talk about his childhood, which always made him feel like his Shizun was still treating him like a child.
He didn’t want to be a child; he wanted to be Shizun’s…
Ahem, and his cultivation was not low. It was more than enough to protect his Shizun.
Qi Shu frowned unhappily. Without waiting for him to say anything, Gu Hanjiang asked, “What book are you reading? You even forget to eat and sleep.”
His mood was obviously better. He bent down condescendingly and reached for the books piled in front of Qi Shu.
Randomly picking one up, he just happened to take the “Secret Method of Spiritual Cultivation” book.
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- This chapter is by Reika (me).
- Hahaha! His master caught him reading a dirty book, oh dear! I really want to know how he’ll react next chapter. I wonder if its has illustrations? How spicy is that book?
- If Qi Shu is a cat, is his Shizun a dog?
- Please let me know if there are any errors. I don’t have a human editor but I did use a grammar checker.
- Thanks for reading!
- 老四 – Lao Si, but it’s not a name. Lao is a prefix indicating the order of birth in a family, and si means fourth In this context, I translated it as “Fourth Shidi” though literally, it’s just “fourth (of the family/sect).”
- 过目不忘 – to have a highly retentive memory; to have something imprinted in one’s memory. Perhaps like photographic or eidetic memory?
- Though it seems clunky in English to use “this person,” in Chinese the general pronoun is ungendered.
- 暖阁 – warm room; warm partition of a room. Is the rest of the pavilion cold? This refers to a room with a heater. I think it just means somewhere more private and comfortable.
- 加油 – literally means “add oil” but it’s used a slang phrase during sports matches or speeches. It s like saying “fight!” or “go for it.” I substituted a more fitting phrase in English instead of a literal translation.
- Sorry, I just don’t know who these pronouns are referring to. Impossible for Shizun to tell Qi Shu the truth (that he has a furnace physique)? Impossible for Qi Shu to tell his Shizun (that he loves him romantically)? I don’t know.
- I had a bit of trouble translating 却从头到脚都透出一股生人勿进的气质. This should be a good way of putting it without sounding weird.
- Specifically, a 花猫 “fox flower cat,” a native breed of cat that features in folktales.
- 眸光微动 – Literally “his pupils moved slightly” but I think it’s better not to translate it literally.