Chapter 77: Past Faces Long Gone1
This translation is by Lily (BC Novels) at bcnovels d͎o͎t͎ c͎o͎m͎
Shen Qingqiu said, “That’s not the problem.”
Luo Binghe wouldn’t let it go. “Then what is the problem?”
Shen Qingqiu raised his fan. “Let’s settle our current task first. We can talk about it later.”
Luo Binge slowly retreated, smiling faintly. “Fine.”
He said softly, “… either way there’s plenty of time to talk about it later.”
Everyone present could sense countless numbers of creatures stirring, hidden beneath the surface of the dark thicket of branches, waist-high brush, and piles of deathly pale stone all around. Lustrous green eyes and whispering pants rose and fell like tiny waves.
At this time, the advantage of having Luo Binghe walk in front was fully apparent. As long as it was him facing the direction they were walking, the sinister winds would immediately pause, and not a single voice would be heard.2 The hidden demonic beasts would either play dead in force or frantically stream into retreat.
To say it a bit coarsely, it was like they were fleeing a god of pestilence…
With this godly assistance, the time it took to reach their destination was much shorter than anticipated.
If there was suddenly a column of roiling black energy rushing into the sky in the middle of a field of curling white fog, anyone who wasn’t blind could see the anomaly.
The cavern mouth was hidden by layer upon layer of thick green leaves, dark as an overcast forest. Standing beside the cave mouth would give anyone a fit of chills. Their party halted their footsteps in hesitation.
According to his original imaginings, before reaching this stage they should have had to kill eight hundred enemy generals, chopped up a thousand demonic beasts, and met all sorts of poisonous insects and strange flowers on the way before they could reach the last hurdle after thousands of trials and tribulations.
Even if there weren’t that many formalities, shouldn’t they have at least gotten some blood on their clothes before they were worthy of the BOSS fight?!
One of the sect leaders said, “I’m afraid we cannot make a rash move.”
Another agreed, “It’s best if we scout out the real situation first.”
Luo Binghe said, “That’s for sure.”
He had just finished speaking when Mobei-Jun suddenly kicked Shang Qinghua out.
He really just kicked him… out… out… out…
Right in front of Shen Qingqiu’s astonished gaze, Shang Qiuhua rolled and fell into the cavern to “scout out the real situation.”
After a moment of deathly stillness, a wretched screech suddenly exploded out from inside the cave. “AHHHHHHHHH!”
At lightning speed, Shen Qingqiu shoved aside a handful of vines to pour into the cavern with the others when he heard a voice sound out. “Peak Lord Shen, we meet again.”3
The Xin Mo sword was stuck in a crack in the rock at the far end of the cavern. That black energy and purple smoke were spilling from its point. Tianlang-Jun sat atop a piece of limestone, Shang Qinghua standing not far from the rock.
Natural light from outside the cave flowed in, illuminating half of Tianlang-Jun’s body. Immediately, some drew in a cold breath.
Shen Qingqiu finally knew why Shang Qinghua’s earlier screech was so wretched.
Even though the smile on Tianlang-Jun’s face was as elegant as before, almost half the right side of his face had rotted into a purple-black mass, making this smile an extremely frightful sight.
His left sleeve was deflated, empty. Apparently, that arm which kept falling off couldn’t be reattached anymore.
This dilapidated appearance, a dry lamp out of oil, was far from the final BOSS Shen Qingqiu had imagined.
Shen Qingqiu couldn’t resist taking a glance at Luo Binghe’s expression. But, his face only held a nearly wooden calm, an emotion he couldn’t decipher.
Tianlang-Jun tilted his head, saying, “Fewer came than I imagined. I had thought it would be like last time at Bailu Mountain with hundreds of experts coming into battle.”
Wu Wang snorted. “Look at this appearance of yours, human but not human, demon but not demon, you don’t even have a single lackey by your side. Do we even need that many people to come?”
Tianlang-Jun said, “It’s true that I don’t have a lackey here, but I do have a nephew.”
Before his words had fallen, a green shadow flashed across the cavern mouth. Without a breath of sound, Zhuzhi-Lang blocked in front of Tianlang-Jun.
For some reason, this master-servant pair were both in a sorry state. Tianlang-Jun’s Dew Flower body wasn’t suited to demonic energy and had rotted until it was full of holes; this was understandable. But, Zhuzhi-lang also had pupils suffused with yellow, plate after plate of scales crawling up to cover his neck, cheeks, forehead, arms, and all exposed skin. It was a frightful and sinister sight, very close to his half-human half-snake form in the Dew Flower cave.
He said hoarsely, “Master Shen.”
Shen Qingqiu said, “It’s me… how did you end up like this?”
Yue Qingyuan said, not batting an eyelid, “Shidi, you have some relationship with this person?”
A deep relationship indeed.4 In the course of events up until today, he had had the most important sort of connection with this person. Shen Qingqiu was just about to speak when Tianlang-Jun faintly raised his chin, squinting at Yue Qingyuan. “I remember you.”
He thought, then said, certain, “At that time, that old man from Huan Hua Palace wanted you to help him mount a sneak attack, but you didn’t pay him any attention. Now, the Cang Qiong Mountain Sect Leader is you? Not bad.”
Yue Qingyuan said, “Sire, your memory is not bad as well.”
Tianlang-Jun smiled, then let out a sigh.
“If you were also suppressed in a pitch-black place for decades, never seeing the sun, with only the option of thinking of things past to while away the time every day, your memory would be not bad just like mine.5“
This time, no one responded. Yue Qingyuan gripped Xuan Su, striking out with sword and scabbard included.
Tianlang-Jun was just about to dodge the strike when, with waves of rumbling, half the cave wall behind him collapsed, opening a big hole. The outside was high in the air, flying sand and rolling stones tumbling to drop down in a fall. The cold air suddenly rolled in, fine snowflakes dancing through the air to confuse everyone’s sight. Wave surging over wave of beastly cries and the sounds of battle faintly floated up from the ice surface hundreds of meters below. The first wave of Southern Border demons had already touched ground.
Tianlang-Jun said, “I’d guess, it’s definitely Bai Zhan Peak fighting on the front lines again. Am I right?”
Dozens of people had scattered, each charging over from every angle. Wu Wang, brandishing his spiritual staff into a formidable wind, extremely firm and fierce, stole to the very front. Zhuzhi-Lang was pushed to retreat step by step by Xuan Su, but still diligently drew a good part of the firepower. Tianlang-Jun continued to sit on the limestone and said leisurely, “I remember at that time, you dragged it out until the very last moment to draw your sword. Will you do the same today?”
Yue Qingyuan didn’t respond. Just when he was about to send a palm strike at Zhuzhi-Lang’s chest, another Sect Leader stole ahead to strike first. Zhuzhi-Lang didn’t dodge or retreat, taking the full force of the strike, but the one who let out a wretched scream was actually that Sect Leader.
Shen Qingqiu’s pupils suddenly contracted. He yelled, “Don’t touch him━his body is covered in poison!”
In the chaos of battle, a few people were poisoned, a few others jolted out of the cave by the bursts of demonic energy and spiritual energy. Their bodies thrown out in midair, they would flip onto their swords mid-fall and steady themselves. Shang Qinghua surreptitiously slid towards Shen Qingqiu. Zhuzhi-Lang was caught in the raging bloodlust of battle, and unexpectedly seeing a furtive figure sneaking towards the outside, reflexively flung over two green snakes. Seeing this, Shen Qingqiu flicked his hand, a green leaf flying out to save Airplane-juju’s life, when the two green snakes were suddenly skewered by a sharp spike of ice solidifying out of midair.
Mobei-Jun appeared in the middle of the battle like a ghost, picked up Shang Qinghua, tossed him at Shen Qingqiu like tossing a chicken, and smashed a fist towards Zhuzhi-Lang.
In the next ten seconds, Shen Qingqiu finally witnessed first-hand what could be called a “vicious beating”…
With Zhuzhi-Lang suffering Mobei-Jun’s wild beating, the firepower directed at Tianlang-Jun suddenly heightened.
Though Tianlang-Jun was down an arm and fighting one on many, his elegant poise still didn’t drop a pinch. “Ay, why are you like this again. Fighting many on one, don’t you think you’re winning without a fight, violating the rules of justice?”
One Sect Leader rushed to attack. “Towards you, this type of Demon Race monster harboring evil intentions, fearing that any part of the world is not in chaos, what justice is there to be said!”
The next moment, his head exploded into pieces like a clove of garlic. Tianlang-Jun smiled. “Actually, I didn’t really have any evil intentions at first, and I wasn’t quite interested in seeing the whole world in chaos. I would occasionally cross the border and come to this side to sing some songs and read some books. It was very nice. But, now that I’ve stayed under Bailu Mountain for that many years, I’m a bit reluctant not to do some of those things you’re thinking of.”
Yue Qingyuan flicked his finger. Xuan Su unsheathed by three inches, spiritual energy exploding up. Tianlang-Jun’s body creaked like his skeleton was shifted out of alignment, making a sound of surprise. “Sure enough, you are a Sect Leader. Very good, your shifu himself wasn’t much to speak of, but his eye in picking disciples and successors was quite good.”
He reached out a hand, directly grabbing Xuan Su’s point. He smiled as if he was ignorant and unaware of everything around him. “But why don’t you draw it completely? Just like this, you still can’t do anything to me.”
Yue Qingyuan’s gaze darkened, and Xuan Su drew out another half inch!
Suddenly, he heard Luo Binghe say coldly, “He can’t do anything to you. What about me?”
Tianlang-Jun had not yet shed his smile when, suddenly, a strong stream of demonic energy surged over, chopping down like a machete.
His only remaining hand shed its arm and flew out of the cavern, swept up by a wild gale, falling straight down Maigu Ridge.
Luo Binghe finally showed his hand!
This father-son pair once again faced off, and this time, it was finally Tianlang-Jun who had no power to retaliate.
Luo Binghe’s eyes were glaringly red, his face stretched taut, his strikes ruthless and tyrannical, not allowing any mercy. Now, both of Tianlang-Jun’s hands were gone. Even with his left arm and right stump he was pushed to his limits. When Zhuzhi-Lang broke away from Mobei-Jun, his face and body were already a mass of blood and flesh. Seeing his master hard-pressed, it was like he had lost his head in the melee, crashing his way straight over. Right at that time, Wu Wang had been brushed by Tianlang-Jun’s demonic energy, flying backward and spewing a mouthful of blood as Great Master Wu Chen went to catch him. Seeing Zhuzhi-Lang about to collide with him, Shen Qingqiu knew the situation was taking a bad turn. He flashed over to block in front of Wu Chen.
Upon seeing Shen Qingqiu, a wisp of clarity flashed through Zhuzhi-Lang’s glistening yellow pupils. He violently braked, losing his balance and nearly stumbling into a fall. Just when he was going to detour around Shen Qingqiu to go help Tianlang-Jun, a flash of white light suddenly shot across the scene. Zhuzhi-Lang’s back heavily thudded into the cave wall, nailed into the cliff rock through his chest.
That half-length of slender sword blade in his chest was precisely Zheng Yang6.
Shen Qingqiu turned, and Luo Binghe slowly pulled back. Tianlang-Jun stood serenely some meters behind him.
He only stood for a while, then gracefully collapsed to the ground.
The battle is over?
It was this easy?
Shen Qingqiu still felt this was a bit unacceptable.
He didn’t even get in a few strikes. And they’re done just like this?
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He smacked Shang Qinghua. “… Didn’t you say Tianlang-Jun was very hard to fight?”
Shang Qinghua said, “… It is very hard.”
Shen Qingqiu: “Is there any logic to this win?”
Shang Qinghua: “No matter how difficult a BOSS, don’t even think of making a wave in front of the male protagonist. Isn’t this the publicly known logic?”
The two looked all around. There were dozens of people when they came, but now, in this blood-filled scene, only a few were left standing. Shen Qingqiu looked at the two he used to regard as a BOSS level of extreme difficulty. One was nailed to the wall, dripping blood; one was lying on the ground, fitting the description of “rag doll, trampled and strings broken” one hundred percent.
He didn’t feel the unrestrained satisfaction of defeating the final BOSS a bit. The more he looked, the more it felt like his side was bullying the old and the disabled, like a shameless gang beating…
That’s right, this definitely was a gang beating. But who knew it would become like this? The BOSS’s actual strength fell too far from their expectations!
Luo Binghe turned, not yet dyed by a drop of blood. Calm and composed, he asked Shen Qingqiu, “Do you want to kill him?”
He was pointing at Tianlang-Jun. Zhuzhi-Lang heard and grabbed Zheng Yang’s blade, straining to pull it out. Many of the scales on his neck and face had been scraped off in the chaos of battle, and with these bursts of strength, blood began to pour down in streams.
Ever since he knew Gongyi Xiao had been killed by him, Shen Qingqiu always felt a bit of discomfort in his heart. But this scene really was a spectacle to horrible to endure, and it was hard for onlookers not to sympathize. And, even though Shen Qingqiu had been afflicted by his strange method of repaying gratitude countless times, at the very least Zhuzhi-Lang had never held any evil intentions towards him.
Shen Qingqiu sighed. “You’ve already gotten to this state. Why bother?”
Zhuzhi-Lang coughed out a mouthful of bloody foam, saying hoarsely, “Gotten to this state?”
He smiled bitterly. “If I said that my appearance at Bailu Mountain was my original body, what would Master Shen think?”
A peal of thunder crashed onto Shen Qingqiu’s forehead.
What, that snake man crawling all over the ground on Bailu Mountain was actually Zhuzhi-Lang’s original form?!
Zhuzhi-Lang gasped a breath and said, “My lineage is humble. Just because my father was a primal giant snake, I was in this deformed half-human half-snake shape when my mother gave birth to me. Up until I was fifteen, others would always shun me and hate me, insult me and beat me. If my Lord never helped me gain a human form and support me, I would be a monster squirming on the ground my whole life.”
He clenched his teeth and said, “My Lord gave me my first chance to become human, and you, Master Shen, gave me my second. Maybe it was merely the wave of a hand to you both, but to me, it’s a debt I’d pursue through ten thousand deaths… Master Shen is asking me ‘why bother’? You tell me why I bother.”
Tianlang-Jun suddenly sighed. “Silly child, why are you telling him so much?”
Even though he was lying on the ground, he was as graceful and poised as ever. If you ignored the half of his face which had been corroded by demonic energy, he would be even more graceful and poised.
He gazed at the sky and continued pensively, “People, always believe that ‘those of different clans, their hearts must travel different paths.’7 But, no matter how close someone is to you, they could betray you in the blink of an eye. Why have you always clung to your one-sided wish of repaying gratitude? No matter how much you say, he won’t understand you; he’ll only get fed up and not comprehend. Why do you need to say any more?”
For a while, everyone on the scene stayed in silence. A good-natured youth who had had no vicious intentions, full-heartedly enjoying discussions of love, only to find it was nothing but a trap, and then suppressed under a dark and sunless mountain for countless days and nights. Who had the right to tell him not to hold a grudge? Who had the right to tell him, “Let it go, get over it”?
But, Great Master Wu Chen said, “If sire truly did not hold these intentions in the past, it was our wrong to have believed slanderous charges. But you cannot hide or flee from today’s disaster. Every evil cause will bring about evil fruits. Sooner or later they will all be repaid.”
He clasped his hands and said, “But Miss Su didn’t hesitate to take the poison and wanted to go see you. How can you blame her for betraying you?”
Tianlang-Jun started slightly, raising his head.
Shen Qingqiu also felt his heart tremble.
Great Master Wu Chen would never tell a lie, but the version of events he told seemed to be a bit different from the one other people told and knew.
Great Master Wu Chen said, “At Zhao Hua Temple, because I didn’t want Miss Su to suffer criticism after her death, and because I agreed to protect the secret, this old monk could not talk and explain the true facts.
“Miss Su was forcibly detained in Huan Hua Palace by the Old Palace Master. She was stubborn and refused to take orders; she wasn’t willing to trick you to the ambush location which had been set up with dozens of suppressing spells. The Old Palace Master only discovered that she was already pregnant when he was punishing her in the Water Prison. He feared that forcing an abortion would endanger her life, and Miss Su was even more willing to resist at all costs. So, the Old Palace Master gave her a bowl of poison, a type of poison deadly to the demon race, and told her that as long as she was willing to drink it, he would let her go to see you.
“Miss Su drank the Old Palace Master’s drug and set off alone. But she didn’t know that the Old Palace Master had changed the ambush location to the Bailu Mountain where you two used to meet.”
In his shattered body, Tianlang-Jun strove to lift his head. A bloodstain was still drying on his lip and, in a daze, he indeed had a kind of unspeakably pathetic appearance.
“This old monk met Miss Su on the road to Bailu Mountain. At that time, it was not long after she had drunk the drug, and her whole body was covered in blood, leaving crimson trails with every step. I heard her say a few fragments in explanation, and couldn’t bear to deceive her. After I told her the truth about how Tianlang-Jun had already been suppressed for good, she finally knew that all her Shifu had told her was a towering lie. Not only was the location incorrect, but the time was too!
“At her request, this old monk protected her and helped her evade the Huan Hua Palace disciples on patrol, sending her to the upper reaches of the Luochuan River. From then on, I didn’t know any more traces of her whereabouts.
“Tianlang-Jun, maybe it’s true that Miss Su wasn’t a purely benevolent person. She, the Huan Hua Palace successor with high hopes piled on her, was originally set up high. In the beginning, she may have gotten close to you without good intentions. But in the end, between the two of you, was it you who bewitched her with malicious intent or her who couldn’t keep a handle on her emotions?
“This old monk was not a player in this affair, and I never knew any of these truths. But, from what I saw and what I knew, she really did reject the orders of the shifu who had raised her for decades and didn’t open her mouth even after suffering all kinds of torture in the Water Prison, refusing to trick you or harm you━if in the end she wasn’t pushed to using a last resort, which mother in this world would drink that bowl of poison?
“She did not abandon and reject you, but had no other alternative. No one in this world pitied her, you just missed the opportunity ah…”
Tianlang-Jun’s lip seemed to tremble.
After a while, he said, “… Is that so.”
He finished these three words. Then, he asked, “It’s true?”
Great Master Wu Chen said, “This old monk would swear on his life, not half a sentence of these words were false.”
Tianlang-Jun turned his head, looking at Shen Qingqiu and Yue Qingyuan, and asked as if searching for confirmation. “It’s true?”
He didn’t even care if the onlookers knew the truth of the situation, asking every person he could find. Yue Qingyuan faced him, wordless, silently lowering his head and pondering something unknown. Shen Qingqiu thought it over again and again before finally slowly nodding his head.
Perhaps the Old Palace Master didn’t hold any intent of slander and injury at first but, seeing the two gradually grow closer, he began to regret sending Su Xiyan to approach Tianlang-Jun.
Su Xiyan had lost control of the situation and actually fell in love with Tianlang-Jun wholeheartedly, even having Luo Binghe; this was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Then, the Old Palace Master produced evidence out of context, gave short measure, wove a series of events, and cast Tianlang-Jun straight into the role of an exceptional devil hungering to topple the Three Realms.
And plainly wrecked this many people for this many years.
Tianlang-Jun seemed to suddenly lose all his strength, once again collapsing to the ground.
He sighed. “Alright. At least, there’s one thing that wasn’t that terrible.”
A few snowflakes dotted his eyelashes, trembling into motion. He didn’t know whether it was this first snowfall to grace his brow in decades, or solidified, unfallen tears.
Shen Qingqiu turned to look at Luo Binghe. He had listened from beginning to end but seemed as if he had heard nothing at all, even letting out a quiet chuckle.
After explaining all these events, the knot gnawing at Tianlang-Jun’s heart had been untied. But to Luo Binghe, the degree of cruelty had not lowered a bit.
It had only gone from the result of being rejected by mother and father to the result of being given up on by mother and father.
He was the one who was given up on just like before.
The Xin Mo sword was still emitting a steady flow of purple-black energy, and the sounds of battle below grew clearer and clearer. It seemed that the descent of Maigu Ridge was continuing, some unknown distance from the iced-over surface of the Luochuan. Yue Qingyuan walked a few steps towards the cliff wall pierced by the Xin Mo sword. Shen Qingqiu said, “Things are already like this. Tianlang-Jun, you should withdraw.”
If he withdrew now, it still was not too late. But if Tianlang-Jun continued to pour demonic energy into the Xin Mo sword, the only way to stop the merge would really be to kill him. How to say, Shen Qingqiu did not especially wish for Tianlang-Jun to actually die. After all, for the youth who liked to speak of love to become like this really was enough of a tragedy. If they were to take his life as well… where could you find a BOSS this miserable!
But, Tianlang-Jun suddenly let out a laugh.
That laugh resounded through the cavern and the mountain ridge. He seemed to find the situation extremely comical, tilting his head and saying, “Peak Lord Shen, look at how I am now━I can’t even maintain Zhuzhi-Lang’s human shape.”
At this time, Shen Qingqiu had not yet detected the meaning within his words, only faintly feeling his heart jump in his chest.
Tianlang-Jun drawled, “I’ve fought with you people for this long, and the toll on this body of mine could not be said to be small. Think about it, the one who’s been supplying the Xin Mo sword with demonic energy this whole time, who could that be?”
These words were not spoken especially fast or slow, but after they entered Shen Qingqiu’s ear, it was a sentence a word. Hearing them, his neck gradually stiffened as though he had fallen into an icy rift.
“You should indeed tell someone to withdraw. It’s just that, that person is not me.”
- This chapter is by Lily of BC Novels.
- I’m glad that Zhuzhi-Lang explained why he feels indebted to Tianlang-Jun and Shen Qingqiu. I was very touched by his story.
- Oh my, I remember the first time I read this. I had no idea what Tianlang-Jun meant.
- Please let me know if there are any errors.
- Thanks for reading.
- 昔颜已逝 (xi1 yan2 yi3 shi4) The xiyan in this is pronounced the same as Su Xiyan, yan is the same character, probably intentional?
- 鸦雀无声 (ya1 que4 wu2 sheng1), lit. crow and peacock make no sound.
- 迅雷不及掩耳 (xun4 lei2 bu4 ji2 yan3 er3), lit. ‘[rapid] thunderbolt no time to cover ears’.
- This is sort of a play on the term for ‘relationship’ used here. 渊源 (yuan1 yuan2), with the characters for ‘deep pool’ and ‘origin’.
- 不见天日 (bu4 jian4 tian1 ri4), literally translates as ‘never seeing the sky/heaven or the sun’. As an idiom, can mean ‘a world without justice’ or ‘suffering oppression’.
- Luo Binghe’s original sword he was using at Quiet Peak (before Xin Mo/ Heart Devil sword)
- 非我族类，其心必异 (fei1 wo3 zu2 lei4, qi2 xin1 bi4 yi4). lit. not my clan, their heart must be different. A saying from the Zuo Zhuan.