unsheathed – Chapter 307 (1): Underfoot

Chapter 307 (1): Underfoot

The little monk was very distraught upon learning of his master's death, displaying none of the tranquility and detachment preached by Buddhist monks.

However, as Chen Ping'an watched the bawling little boy vigorously shaking the old monk's arm from side to side, as if he were trying to rouse his master from his slumber, Chen Ping'an felt as if this was the reaction most fitting for a boy with human emotions.

After learning that his master's body was cremated into Sariras, the little monk's depression turned to elation, and he felt very proud of his master. Once again, the little monk's propensity for wild emotional fluctuations was very unbefitting of a Buddhist monk.

Chen Ping'an had been helping the temple wherever he could during the transition period in the wake of the old monk's passing. He informed the new abbot in private of the old monk's intention to keep the matter regarding the Sariras a secret for now, at least until this recent wave of controversy blew over.

The new abbot raised no objections to this, and he thanked Chen Ping'an earnestly for informing him of the old abbot's final wishes.

After that, Chen Ping'an paid no further visits to Heart Manifestation Temple, but he told the new abbot that if Heart Manifestation Temple were to ever run into any trouble, then he could send a messenger to his current residence, and he would be sure to help out wherever he could.

The new abbot thanked him once again, and following Chen Ping'an's departure, he went to the main hall and lit an eternal flame lantern for the kind-hearted benefactor. He then called over the little monk and instructed him to frequently check on the lantern.

The little monk nodded in response, but judging from how quickly he had agreed, the abbot knew that the little monk was definitely going to slack off. Hence, he flicked the little monk gently on the head and reiterated, "I'm serious, Mu Yu. Make sure the lantern doesn't go out."

The little monk nodded once again with a sullen expression. The residual sharp pain from that flick to the forehead served as as good an impetus as any for him to remember to take this matter seriously.

Following the new abbot's departure, the little monk heaved a forlorn sigh to himself. His senior brother had been so benevolent in the past, but now that he was the new abbot, he had become just as strict as their deceased master. The little monk decided there and then that even if the opportunity arose for him to become abbot in the future, he definitely wasn't going to accept the role as doing so would be sure to sadden his junior brothers.

It then occurred to him that he was his master's youngest disciple, so he was never going to have any junior brothers, and that was a horrifying realization for him! With that in mind, he immediately darted away like the wind, catching up to his senior brother before asking him when he was going to be taking disciples.

The abbot could tell what the little monk was thinking, and an exasperated look appeared on his face as he prepared to flick the little monk on the head once again, much like he would strike a normal wooden fish. [1]

The little monk heaved a forlorn sigh before rushing away again.

Strangely enough, even though Chen Ping'an's mental state was gradually returning to tranquility, he didn't resume his practice of the Mountain Shaking Guide and the Proper Sword Scripture. Instead, he continued to wander around in the capital city, this time with a small cotton pouch on his back.

He had a diet of wine and dry biscuits, and he had no set place of residence, stopping at any peaceful location that he took a liking to whenever he needed to rest, whether that be under the shade of a tree, on a rooftop, or beside a river.

He passed by tall red walls with the canopies of trees peeking over them, and he could hear the sounds of children playing and laughing within the walls.

There was a group of well-dressed scholars reciting beautiful poems, and at the time, Chen Ping'an had been seated on a branch of a nearby tree, drinking in silence.

There was a waterside restaurant where a gathering of friends was taking place. All of them were handsome young intellectuals, and they were discussing the state of the world and exchanging opinions on the policies of the nation. Chen Ping'an was seated on the rooftop of the restaurant, listening intently to their conversation.

They were full of ambition and detested evil with all their hearts, but Chen Ping'an felt like the political reforms that they proposed were going to be difficult to execute in practice. Having said that, it could also just be because these young intellectuals hadn't gone into detail about their ideas as they had had too much to drink.

There were two gangs that had agreed to meet up for a fight. Each gang had thirty to forty men, and they had decided to settle their differences here once and for all.

Chen Ping'an observed the scuffle while squatting atop a collapsed wall in the distance, and he noticed that the older men above twenty years of age were very wily and cunning in the way that they fought, while the young men below twenty years of age fought with reckless abandon and brutality.

After the event, they walked away bruised and battered while leaning on their brothers for support, and they were already looking forward to the next fight.

The leader of one of the gangs was slightly older, close to thirty years of age, and he arranged for all of his brothers to go and have a drink together at a wine shop. The beautiful woman at the counter was the man's wife, and she could only force a smile at the sight of these familiar faces, then bring out some food and wine for her husband's brothers.

The man was surrounded by his brothers, talking in an animated fashion, while the woman looked on at him with a hint of concern in her eyes, as if she was wondering how she was going to make ends meet, but there was also a look of admiration on her face whenever she gazed upon him.

The woman was watching her husband, while her husband's right hand man, the most courageous and skilled fighter among the man's subordinates, was sneaking furtive glances at her.

Chen Ping'an sat at the table furthest away from them and ordered two flagons of wine, one to pour into his Sword Nurturing Gourd, and the other to drink right away.

The young woman gritted her teeth and decided to overcharge him, asking for thirty extra copper coins. Thankfully for her, Chen Ping'an didn't seem to know the local wine prices, and he paid without any hesitation. The woman was left feeling a little guilty, so she brought him a couple of dishes of appetizers that she had made, in response to which Chen Ping'an stood up to thank her with a smile.

This made the woman feel even more guilty and embarrassed, and she hurriedly turned away, not daring to look into Chen Ping'an's clean and pure eyes any longer.

Over at the other table, everyone was gathered around the leader of the gang, whose cheeks were rosy red from the wine that he had drunk, and he was loudly telling his brothers that someday, they were going to truly have a territory of their own in the capital city.

Once that time came, they would drink wine and eat meat to their hearts' content, and they would no longer have to be fearful of official soldiers with sabers strapped to their waists. In fact, those soldiers were going to be the ones to suck up to them, and Scholar Ma would never dare to look down on them again whenever they asked him to write some couplets for them in the future.

The man was tripping over his words a little from inebriation, but all of his brothers were still cheering loudly at the vision that he had presented to them.

In particular, the younger members of the gang drank until they threw up, only to repeat the cycle again, and when they returned to the table, they could still make out their brothers through their bleary, drunken eyes. To them, they couldn't imagine a better life to lead.

Chen Ping'an left the streetside wine shop in silence.

As he did so, he couldn't help but turn back to look at the table of men, and he was reminded of the time that he had spent with Liu Xianyang and Gu Can. At the time, he was still working as an apprentice in the dragon kiln, and with Liu Xianyang's meager income, he was barely able to afford any wine to drink.

After having a drink, Liu Xianyang would routinely speak about his grand visions for the future, following which he would grumble about why Zhi Gui didn't seem to like him. As for Gu Can, he had always been mature beyond his years, and he would grit his teeth and imitate the thugs that he had seen in the past, talking about how he was going to throw caution to the wind exact vengeance on everyone who had wronged him in the past.

After a while, Chen Ping'an departed, and one of the more observant young men said in a joking manner, "That pretty boy from earlier was looking at us for quite a while before he left. Could it be that he's taken a liking to our boss lady?"

The inebriated man slammed his fist onto the table as he roared, "I'll kill him if he dares to look at my wife! Let me tell you this: even if I die tomorrow, my wife will remain a widow for the rest of her life and won't ever remarry, even if the emperor offers to take her as a concubine! That little pretty boy has nothing on me! Does he think he's top ** just because he's carrying a sword?!"

The man's head dropped onto the table with a loud thump as he spoke, and he immediately began snoring.

The young woman lowered her head as she wiped down a table, and for some reason, a faint smile appeared on her face.

The young man constantly stealing glances at the woman had also lowered his head, a little in panic and a little in resentment. He took a sip of wine, but it was completely bland and tasteless.

There was a frail and weary-looking woman who chased a naughty child onto the street for some reason, and as soon as she caught him, she began to administer a spanking. The boy pretended to howl in pain, but was actually making funny faces at one of his nearby friends. As the frail-looking woman beat the child, she suddenly erupted into tears herself, and only then did the boy also begin to genuinely cry.

After a bout of heavy rain, the warmth of the sun's rays finally returned to the capital city. A group of well-dressed individuals were galloping along on horseback, and the thundering hooves of their steeds were sending mud splattering in all directions.

There was a streetside stall being run by an old woman, and she was selling some crudely knitted garments. Before she had a chance to do anything, her wares had become splattered with mud, and a distraught look instantly appeared on her face.

Riding at the end of the group was a proud-looking young woman, and upon noticing the old woman's heartbroken expression, she casually tossed a pouch of money onto the stall while continuing to ride onward.

However, her horsemanship was far from exceptional, and as she focused on tossing the pouch of money onto the stall, she inadvertently fell off the back of her steed, tumbling to the ground before rising to her feet with a groan and a grimace. Her beautiful features and expensive dress were all covered in mud.

The woman stumbled over to her horse, which had stopped in its tracks to wait for its rider, and she clambered onto its back with some difficulty before setting off again.

As she did so, she noticed a white-robed swordsman out of the corner of her eye. The white-robed figure was standing on the side of the street, and she couldn't help but turn to look at him, upon which he gave her a thumbs-up.

The young woman rolled her eyes and moved on without giving the interaction a second thought.

Thus, Chen Ping'an continued his leisurely journey, witnessing many different sights and scenes in the process.

The controversy of White River Temple quickly blew over in less than ten days, and the imperial court had already closed the case. Several of the main perpetrators behind the temple's crimes had been executed, while the rest had all been imprisoned or banished.

The properties of White River Temple had all been confiscated, and as for who was going to take over the temple, some speculated that it would be one of the other three major temples in the capital city, while others claimed that it would be one of the renowned temples outside of the capital city.

Clearly, there was a very capable and wise figure offering the emperor of Southern Garden Nation counsel on this matter, and the controversy of White River Temple died down very quickly as the attention of the entire nation was quickly turned to another important event.

One of the four grandmasters, Faction Master Yu Zhenyi of the Lake Mountain Faction, had successfully made a breakthrough after ten years of seclusion, and he was holding a martial gathering, calling upon all of the nation's top martial artists to discuss the matter of eradicating the three devilish sects.

The number one martial artist under the heavens, Imperial Preceptor Zhong Qiu, Tong Qingqing of the Mirror Heart Hall, and Mountain Master Lu Fang of the Bird's Eye View Peak were all set to make an appearance at the gathering.

The four grandmasters were going to be coming together on Bull Mountain, which was situated right next to Southern Garden Nation's capital city, and this was going to be a grand event the likes of which the nation hadn't seen for over a hundred years.

These four people each stood at the pinnacle of the martial arts world of their respective nation, and they possessed incredible power and influence. In particular, Imperial Preceptor Zhong Qiu of Southern Garden Nation and Yu Zhenyi of Pine Song Nation had history with each other dating back to over sixty years ago.

Both of them had come from humble backgrounds in Pine Song Nation, and they had been neighbors growing up. As a pair of inseparable friends, they began to travel the world together, and each of them encountered their own fated opportunities, elevating them to become a pair of vastly renowned martial arts prodigies.

However, for some reason, the two of them turned on each other, and following a mortal duel that was witnessed by only four or five people, both of them sustained severe injuries. After that, Zhong Qiu arrived in Southern Garden Nation, and the two of them cut all ties with each other, marking the end of their tumultuous and rather confounding relationship.

Under the dying light of dusk, Chen Ping'an returned to the house where he was staying near Champion Scholar Alley. Prior to this, he had spotted the grandfather and grandson duo watching others play Go on a corner of a street, and upon catching sight of Chen Ping'an, a fearful look immediately appeared on the boy's face.

He hurriedly rose to his feet and beckoned Chen Ping'an over to come and watch the game with him. Chen Ping'an duly obliged, but after watching the game together for a while, the boy declared that he had to do something back home, and he promptly ran away. Chen Ping'an didn't have much interest in watching the game, so after standing there for a few minutes, he returned to the house as well.

After Chen Ping'an entered his room, the boy got up onto a little stool so that he could peer through the window across at Chen Ping'an's room from his own, and he heaved a faint sigh of relief.

Chen Ping'an closed the door, then set down his bag onto the bed, upon which the little lotus figure immediately sprang out of the ground and began gesturing in an angry fashion while making a string of unintelligible sounds.

Chen Ping'an took a glance at the pile of books on his desk, and he noticed that they were clearly a little more creased than when he left the house. He immediately realized why the little lotus figure was so angry, and he crouched down before spreading a hand open, allowing the little lotus figure to climb onto the palm of his hand.

After that, he sat down at the desk, and the little lotus figure immediately jumped onto the pile of books, then knelt down onto the cover of one of the books to carefully smooth down the creases on it with its little hands.

"It's alright, books are meant to be read. He returned the books, did he not? So there's no need to be angry," Chen Ping'an said with a smile.

The little lotus figure stopped what it was doing as it turned to Chen Ping'an with a perplexed expression.

Chen Ping'an gave it a gentle pat on the head, then pulled out his bamboo slip and carving knife before setting them down onto the table.

That night, Chen Ping'an made a secret visit to White River Temple. He had offered up incense at the temple in the past, so it wasn't an unfamiliar place to him. There was a hall in White River Temple that was very peculiar in that there were three Buddha statues being worshiped inside.

There was one that wore a furious expression, one that had its head lowered in a timid fashion, and the one at the center was seated with its back facing the hall. Over the temple's thousand-year history, it had always had its back to the temple's visitors.

Recently, things had been a little depressing at White River Temple. It barely received any visitors during the day, and it was even more deathly quiet here at night. On top of that, many terrifying rumors about the temple had been circulating in the capital city of late, and in light of the recent controversy, the revered Buddha statues were suddenly looking a lot more sinister.

A few days ago, a group of thieves had entered the temple to see if they could find anything of value, and all of them had fled the temple while screaming at the top of their lungs, looking utterly insane. Only after all of them were locked up in prison cells did they finally calm down, upon which they proclaimed that there were ghosts in White River Temple.

Chen Ping'an entered a side hall through the door that was still ajar, then lit a Yang Energy Illumination Talisman to check if there were any sinister forces present. He shuffled his way to several spots in the temple, but the talisman only continued to burn at an even pace, indicating that nothing was amiss.

Right as he was planning to leave the temple, he suddenly sprang up into the air, landing on one of the horizontal beams in the hall before laying down on his side and concealing his own aura.

Three figures swaggered their way into the hall from outside, and they looked much more like affluent individuals out on a moonlit stroll than a group of thieves. Th. most uptodat nvels are published on n(0)velbj)n(.)co/m

Chen Ping'an's brows furrowed slightly at the sight of the trio. He had seen two of them in the past as they were among the martial artists living in that quiet residence on Champion Scholar Alley. One of them was a tall and thin elderly man who wasn't a Daoist priest, but was wearing an antiquated silver-colored lotus flower hat.

1. The little monk's Buddhist name of Mu Yu () is identical to the term used for wooden fish.

Chapter end

Chapter 31: Beating Around the Mountain
Chapter 32: Peach Leaf
Chapter 33: White Dragon Disguising as a Fish
Chapter 34: Gathered Together
Chapter 35: Licorice Root
Chapter 36: Ancient Book
Chapter 37: Fist Technique
Chapter 38: Ninth Tier
Chapter 39: Cursing the Locust Tree
Chapter 40: Returning the Courtesy
Chapter 42: Prodigy
Chapter 43: The Young Boy and the Old Dog
Chapter 44: Coming to Light
Chapter 45: Sunlight
Chapter 46: Skirt Dagger
Chapter 47: Going Alone
Chapter 48: The Hunter and the Hunted
Chapter 49: Porcelain Shard
Chapter 50 (1): One Who is Destined for Great Things
Chapter 50 (2): One Who is Destined for Great Things
Chapter 51: Confrontation
Chapter 52: Shudder
Chapter 53: Gift
Chapter 54: Facing the Enemy
Chapter 55: Feeling Proud in the Spring Breeze
Chapter 56: Nodding Bodhisattva
Chapter 57: Sword Nurturing Gourd
Chapter 58: Teacher
Chapter 59: Sleep
Chapter 60: There's a Ghost
Chapter 61: Helpless Pawn
Chapter 62: Falling Tree
Chapter 63 (1): So That's How It Is
Chapter 63 (2): So That's How It Is
Chapter 64: The Three Chens
Chapter 65: Jewel
Chapter 66: Looking Up
Chapter 67 (1): Long Journey
Chapter 67 (2): Long Journey
Chapter 68: Spring Under the Heavens
Chapter 69: Night
Chapter 70: Daylight
Chapter 71 (1): I’ll Like You for a While Longer
Chapter 71 (2): I’ll Like You for a While Longer
Chapter 72: Black Cloud
Chapter 73: Wooden Figure
Chapter 74: The Fire Dragon Roams the Water
Chapter 75: Mountain Selection
Chapter 76: Back to Back
Chapter 77: Entering the Mountains
Chapter 78: Another Dream
Chapter 79: Spring Welcome Seal
Chapter 80: Leaving the Mountains
Chapter 81: Imperial Preceptor
Chapter 82 (1): Master and Student, Senior Brother and Junio
Chapter 82 (2): Master and Student, Senior Brother and Junio
Chapter 83: Dreams
Chapter 84 (1): I Have a Sword
Chapter 84 (2): I Have a Sword
Chapter 85 (1): Conclusion of the Examination
Chapter 85 (2): Conclusion of the Examination
Chapter 86 (1): Walking the Same Path
Chapter 86 (2): Walking the Same Path
Chapter 87 (1): Little Teacher
Chapter 87 (2): Little Teacher
Chapter 88: Grand Entrance
Chapter 89: Two Heads
Chapter 90: Heavy Rain
Chapter 91: Jade Hairpin
Chapter 92 (1): Bamboo Bookcase
Chapter 92 (2): Bamboo Bookcase
Chapter 93 (1): There's a Character on the Wall
Chapter 93 (2): There's a Character on the Wall
Chapter 94: A Feast for the Eyes
Chapter 95: Too Small a Place
Chapter 96: Demons in the Mountains and Rivers
Chapter 97: Bowing to the Mountain
Chapter 98: The Meddlesome Mountain God
Chapter 99: The Mountain God and the Bamboo Saber
Chapter 100 (1): The World Beneath One's Feet
Chapter 100 (2): The World Beneath One's Feet
Chapter 101: Guard the Mountain
Chapter 102: Soaring White Ray
Chapter 103: Bamboo Building
Chapter 104: Sharing the Spoils
Chapter 105: Rootless Duckweed
Chapter 106: People from All Walks of Life
Chapter 107: Fishing Net
Chapter 108: Spring Hunting
Chapter 109: The Young Boy Has Some Words to Say
Chapter 110: All Good Things Must Come to an End
Chapter 111: Bamboo Hat
Chapter 112: Powerful Individual
Chapter 113: Unparalleled Might
Chapter 114: Seeing A'Liang Again
Chapter 115: There's an Old Scholar In the World (1)
Chapter 116: There's an Old Scholar In the World (2)
Chapter 117 (1): There's an Old Scholar In the World (3)
Chapter 117 (2): There's an Old Scholar In the World (3)
Chapter 118 (1): There's Righteousness In The World
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