Chapter 14: Drawing Talismans

The first time he crossed Fang’s Nanshan, Yu Qiu took half a month. This time, crossing it again with Xiao Chunmian, it would take him at most only two to three days.

After all, the current Nanshan had no obstacles worth mentioning to Yu Qiu.

However, Yu Qiu slowed down in order to give Xiao Chunmian a chance to train. And so Xiao Chunmian danced with his long sword, throwing the wild beasts into a panic. Unexpectedly, he was even stronger than when Yu Qiu was at his level. It made Yu Qiu, who’d been guarding against the unexpected, ended up having too much time on his hands.

After a fierce battle, Xiao Chunmian adjusted his breath again. The originally satisfactory accomplishments in the first level of Qi Refining had risen once again. And when the conditions were right, success naturally followed; he reached the second level of Qi Refining. As soon as Yu Qiu saw it, well, what else could he do, he could only take Xiao Chunmian to Fangshanji right away ba.

Fortunately, Yu Qiu had already broken through the third level of Qi refining by this time. Otherwise, Xiao Chunmian would have caught up with him easily and he wouldn’t know where to put his face.

However, this kind of lead was not anything worth being happy about. Although reaching the first or the third level of Qi Refining can be called a breakthrough, it was basically insignificant. As long as one cultivated diligently, it would naturally rise. Even if everyone’s efficiency was poor, the difference wouldn’t be so big. These first three layers were collectively called the initial stage of Qi Refining.

Each realm on the road of cultivation is divided into nine levels, and these nine levels were further subdivided into three small realms. The first to third level were the initial stage; fourth to sixth, middle stage; and seventh to ninth were the late stage. When the ninth level was completed, it was called the peak.

Breaking through one small realm layer to another small realm layer was easy. But breaking through the next small realm was slightly more difficult. And of course, it was even more difficult to break through the next big realm after reaching the peak.

Yu Qiu, who had just entered the third level of Qi Refining, can already start learning and using some simple spells. But what made him really happy was that he could finally be at ease in fearlessly making talismans.

But in order to make talismans, he had to buy some materials first. With this in mind, Yu Qiu once again quickened his steps toward Fangshanji.

Not before long, a stream appeared in front of them. Xiao Chunmian was sweating a lot and he felt sticky and uncomfortable, so he proposed to take a bath. Yu Qiu, then Xiao Chunmian began to undress.

Yu Qiu was suddenly startled. He jumped three feet high and instantly ran away, leaving no shadow.

Xiao Chunmian was confused. It was not until he cleaned up his whole body and shouted several times did Yu Qiu’s voice come from afar, asking if he was dressed. Xiao Chunmian had to put on his clothes and call for him again. Only then did Yu Qiu finally come out from behind a boulder, his face completely red.

“You, you’re too…” Yu Qiu accused. “How can you be so bold?”

“…” Xiao Chunmian was baffled.


“Don’t you undress in front of me in the future!” Yu Qiu took a few deep breaths and finally calmed down. He felt that he should also wash himself, so he looked at Xiao Chunmian warily. “Go away, don’t peek.”

After soaking in the stream, Yu Qiu thought: How could this girl behave like this? Even if she is dressed like a man, she shouldn’t be so bold!… Although he couldn’t figure out why Xiao Chunmian was dressed as a man, he thought that it must be the other party’s secret. He wanted to respect her1Since it’s Yu Qiu’s thoughts, I referred to Xiao Chunmian with she/her pronouns since YQ thinks he’s a girl. But if it’s an omniscient pov or some other character who doesn’t have the same misunderstanding as YQ, I’ll be referring to XCM with he/him pronouns privacy, so he would never ask.

Xiao Chunmian was crouching behind the stone where Yu Qiu just crouched on and thought about his abnormal reaction, but he only became more surprised and uncertain.Thinking back, Yu Qiu’s deeds and words along the way were a little weird. It seemed like he was deliberately avoiding getting too close to him. Even if he fried his brains thinking, he wouldn’t have thought that Yu Qiu had mistaken his sex. He could only think that Yu Qiu had special precautions against getting too close with someone of the same sex. Not only did he have precautions, but this precaution was very much similar to that between men and women.

Who would have such precautions against someone of the same sex? Xiao Chunmian was thinking about it when he suddenly thought of several distant relatives in his family. They didn’t like women, but they were fond of gay men…

After a while, Yu Qiu came out of the stream and dressed himself. He came over and shouted, “Well, let’s go!”

Xiao Chunmian was thinking of things he shouldn’t be thinking when he suddenly saw Yu Qiu and his face turned red. He then realized that blushing would be very rude, so he lowered his head to hide his expression.

But when this bow fell into Yu Qiu’s eyes, it made him think that the other party was shy.

“You were so bold a moment ago, and you only think of blushing now?” Yu Qiu sighed helplessly. “Pay more attention next time. Don’t be so defenseless.”

Xiao Chunmian nodded and finally let his blush fade. Then he shook his head and waved the things he was imagining out of his mind. He secretly told himself that no matter whether Yu Qiu’s abnormal attitude was because he was interested in men or not, he would respect Yu Qiu’s privacy and never speak out of turn.

Like this, because of their own misunderstandings, throughout the journey, they got along in harmony and with tacit agreement. No one acted “bold.”


After finally returning to Fangshanji, the old man hugged Yu Qiu for a long time with eyes glistening with tears. Then Yu Qiu introduced Xiao Chunmian.

When the old man recognized Xiao Chunmian, a light suddenly flashed before his eyes. “Xiao-gongzi, why are you here?”

Xiao Chunmian explained the matter with a smile.The old man immediately patted his chest and declared his position: “Don’t worry ba, from this day on, you have your Uncle Yu to cover you!”

At this moment, Zhao Tu and Wang Mazi of the Qingtou Gang arrived. When they saw Xiao Chunmian, they stared blankly at him for a while. “This is?”

“My creditor,” said Yu Qiu.

Although Yu Qiu had paid off a hundred liang to Xiao Chunmian, he still owed 400 liang of silver to several people in Yulian County. Yu Qiu had originally planned to wait for Gu Qing to return. Afterwards, he’d take the money and make another trip. But when Xiao Chunmian heard of this, he once again simply took out some of his money and paid it off for Yu Qiu first. He then became Yu Qiu’s one and only creditor. 

“It’s very good this way.” Yu Qiu laughed. “Taking the creditor with me, I can pay back whenever I have the money. No need to run around so much.”

Xiao Chunmian shook his head helplessly.

Following Xiao Chunmian in returning the money, Yu Qiu later learned that he used to borrow money from others to pay off his debt to other people2 借东借西 (jiè dōng jiè xī)- Literally, “borrow from the East and borrow from the West.” I think 借东借西 might be a typo for 借东补西 (jiè dōng bǔ xī). The latter literally means “borrow from the East to mend the West.” And it means “to borrow from someone to pay another.” My translation in the text is too wordy, considering how the original expression is pronounced in only four syllables lmao… without using the Xiao Family’s money. But a few years ago, he had saved the life of a businessman. In order to repay him, the businessman would give him a dividend every year, which had accumulated to more than 700 liang.

Taking out 400 liang, Xiao Chunmian still had 300 liang on hand. Although this money was nothing in the cultivation world, it was already a lot for Yu Qiu who had been short on money ever since his rebirth!

Seeing that Gu Qing hadn’t returned yet, Yu Qiu had no choice but to once again thicken his face and borrow fifty liang from Xiao Chunmian. And Xiao Chunmian didn’t delay at all; he was very generous.

Holding the money, Yu Qiu rushed north. Because Xuanyang sect was located north of Fangshanji, the north became the center of the entire place. Naturally, markets that were beneficial to cultivators were also in the north. The place where Yu Qiu and the Qingtou Gang lived was on the periphery. The aura there was thin, and there were empty houses everywhere, and even rent was not needed.

Yu Qiu rushed into the market, buying, buying, and buying once more! Suddenly, ten liang of silver were cha-ching’ed away, and the bag around Yu Qiu’s waist was finally stuffed full. Of course, cultivators should use spirit stones instead of silver when buying, but there were some things of little value that could only be sold in large quantities. The seller would also be willing to sell them for silver.

The silver that could’ve made a normal family live for many years was only enough to buy a bag of such useless things. It was kinda sad to think about it. If it weren’t for his rebirth, then throughout his life, Yu Qiu would’ve never realized the value of the originally low-grade spirit stones would be so great.

In the end, with only a few liangs of silver left, Yu Qiu bought a lot of ordinary writing brushes, his back slumped. He didn’t have a choice. The brushes that cultivators used for talismans were too expensive for him to buy.

After the large bag reverted into a small bag, Yu Qiu immediately locked himself in the room. Rubbing his fists and wiping his palms, he organized the things he bought.

At last, he spread out a piece of paper on top of the table, took out a brush, treated the cinnabar as an ink stick, then took a deep breath. He was suddenly a little nervous. In this lifetime, this was his first time drawing talismans with his own hands!

But when the tip of the brush was stained with ink and hung over the paper, the tension disappeared.

Yu Qiu had studied the way of seals for several hundreds of years that it had long been connected with his soul. For Yu Qiu, drawing talismans was as natural as breathing.

As soon as the tip of the brush touched the paper, Yu Qiu’s hand moved like floating clouds and floating water. It was free from all inhibitions.

Like this, he painted the talisman in one breath, then quickly threw away the brush in his hand. As soon as the mortal person’s brush landed, it shattered into several pieces.

The talisman’s surface flashed, then flashed again, before finally turning dark.

[……]

The long-lost system was a little noisy in Yu Qiu’s mind, but it didn’t talk. Actually, it was the first time in these past days that it paid attention to Yu Qiu.

—A failure ah, the luck is really bad.

Yu Qiu communicated with the system through his divine sense. Smiling, he looked at the circle on his wrist. At the same time the light of the talisman went down, this circle called the Karma Ring lit up for a while.

For a long while, the sound of the system came back to Yu Qiu’s mind, but it sounded weak.

[Congratulations to the host for completing a task and gaining experience value +1. This task can be carried out in cycles. Hope the host continues to work hard.]

—Hey, your mood is not good ah, angry?

[……]

The system ignored him again.

Yu Qiu found it interesting. He merely ignored this ghost task for more than ten days, that was all. Unexpectedly, the system was a little grumpy.

—Don’t you want me to continue completing the task? If I continue to fail as I do it, what then?

[Anything, the task is just a fair exchange. It is not mandatory. If you don’t complete it, it’s your own loss.]

—Oh, this system is noble and coldly elegant?

Yu Qiu smiled and shook his head. Instead of joking with him, he took out another brush, spread out another piece of paper and began to draw again.

Then…

[Congratulations to the host for completing a task and gaining experience value + 1]

[Congratulations to the host for completing a task and gaining experience value + 1]

[Congratulations to the host for completing a task and gaining experience value + 1]

[Don’t want to repeat the same words, the host may check the task record themselves.]

Yu Qiu: “…”

Then no matter how many talismans Yu Qiu drew, the system was completely quiet. During this period, Yu Qiu always failed, failed, and failed again…

After a while, the system finally made a sound again.

[Why don’t you use white deer paper.]

—Do you even know how to use white deer paper?

[……]

—Because it’s expensive.

Yu Qiu answered very frankly. Although white deer paper was a cheap thing in the cultivation world that you could buy several pieces with one low-grade spirit stone, the price was still too expensive for Yu Qiu at the moment. Then again, the price was only one of the reasons why Yu Qiu didn’t choose white deer paper.

What Yu Qiu used now was called grass leather paper. Its price was less than one-tenth of the white deer paper’s. Naturally, its effect was very limited. Almost nobody could use it for drawing talismans. An inadequate materials, as with inadequate cultivation, didn’t necessarily mean that talismans couldn’t be drawn; a chance was simply needed.

And if it involved chance, it could be used to feed the system. Although Yu Qiu had decided not to gamble anymore, the system’s attitude of not forcing him made him feel soft. After thinking about it, he finally patted his thigh and thought of this very good alternative.

However, because Yu Qiu’s luck in this life was bad, whether it was gambling or drawing talismans on chance, they were all essentially the same–throwing money into water.

But Yu Qiu now doesn’t just want to spend money to feed the system.

He was hitting three birds with one stone, and feeding the system was only one of them.

Having a well thought-out plan, Yu Qiu continued drawing talismans with a clear mind. He was extremely calm while drawing the talisman, but deep inside he was excited, so much that he spent half a sichen3时辰 (shí chen) – one of the 12 two-hour periods of the day..

If it weren’t for Zhao Tu suddenly rapping against his door from the outside, Yu Qiu would’ve surely finished drawing with this bag full of materials.

“Dage! No good!” Zhao Tu panted breathlessly. “Laoda… Xiao-ge-er4哥儿  (Gē er) – it’s like saying “bro” in English, but since I’ve been using the pinyin for other terms of address, I decided to keep this in pinyin too… That guy in black…”

Although he said it vaguely, these several keywords were already enough to make Yu Qiu’s heart thump.

Yu Qiu quickly threw away the brush in his hand, grabbed what he had just painted on the table, and rushed out with Zhao Tu.

In less than a few steps, he did see the man in black from that day. With black hair, black eyes, black clothes, and a black blade twisted on his hand, he was extremely striking.

Gu Qing stood in front of the man in black. 

Yu Qiu immediately understood that Gu Qing must’ve just returned when he encountered this man in black and thought of their enmity and how he was nearly killed before.

So what if he weighed a few pounds or two, he would provoke him!

Then, what about Xiao Chunmian?

Taking a few more steps, Yu Qiu saw that Xiao Chunmian was actually lying in Gu Qing’s arms. His eyes were closed, his face ghastly white, and there was a trace of blood at the corner of his mouth.

“… The second level of Qi Refining?” The man in black murmured in surprise, and then sneered. “How dare you stop my sword? If you want to die, I will do it for you.”

As soon as the voice fell, the black blade in the hands of the man in black swung out, straight to Xiao Chunmian’s neck.


**✿❀ translated by Lizonka ❀✿**
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