For the most part of this chapter, the author was able to refer to XCM without having to use pronouns. This is kinda difficult to do in English, so I just resorted to using pronouns when I got stuck.
Previously, I said that I will be using she/her pronouns if Yu Qiu is referring to Xiao Chunmian. This still applies to Yu Qiu’s direct thoughts (usually in first person, and as such, text is italicized). But for regular third-person limited sentences where XCM is talked about, I will be using he/him pronouns instead, regardless of whose point of view it is, because that’s how the author did it.
And for dialogues where one would refer to XCM with she/her, and the other with he/him, it may sound puzzling how the two parties could still understand who they’re talking about. Just keep in mind that, in Chinese, he/him (他) and she/her (她) are pronounced the same way: tā. And hers (她的) and his (他的) are both: tā de
The words of the stall owner stunned Yu Qiu.
A beautiful young man with the sword Yu Qiu had bought hanging at his waist. This description fit Xiao Chunmian ah, but why did Xiao Chunman want a custom-made brush? Yu Qiu didn’t want to assume1自作多情 – To imagine oneself as another person’s favorite, but thinking left and right, aside from giving it to him, he couldn’t come up with a different reason.
Was it to pay him back for the sword?
Really, what returning gifts? What was the relationship between him and Xiao Chunmian? Giving the sword was only something he ought to do, so what was the point in calculating things so clearly between them? Yu Qiu’s mind was full of criticism, but his mouth couldn’t help but grin.
He quickly pinched his face, calmed his expression, kept down the music in his heart2压住心底的乐呵 – alternate translation would be “suppressed the joy in his heart”, and left the stall with a serious face.
But back to the topic, how could Xiao Chunmian even have any spirit stones to order a custom brush?
He couldn’t be doing something dangerous, could he?
Yu Qiu went back to the house with this question in mind, but then he found that Xiao Chunmian wasn’t there. Recently, the other party had been going out early and coming back late. In the past, Yu Qiu never dug too deeply, but now he couldn’t help but worry.
Yu Qiu quickly went back to the market to find Zhang Donggua, who was always watching over the plaza.
Encountering Yu Qiu asking about something, Zhang Donggua would naturally not conceal even half of the information he had. “Are you talking about fellow daoist Xiao? I just happened to see him walking to the north from here, probably going to Fang Beishan3Fangshanji’s northern mountain.”
Yu Qiu said thanks, then instantly walked all the way to the north. As expected, he finally saw Xiao Chunmian’s figure at the entrance of Fang Beishan. There were other people present, three men and one woman, and they were in the middle of discussing something with Xiao Chunmian. They looked quite familiar with each other.
It seemed like, in the places Yu Qiu didn’t see, Xiao Chunmian had already made new friends.
Yu Qiu should have been happy for him.
But in Yu Qiu’s heart, he was actually a bit sour.
He sourly walked forward. The oldest man among them was the one who saw him first, and then the others turned around.
“Xiao Qiu?” Xiao Chunmian asked in surprise. “Why are you here?”
Yu Qiu raised his eyebrows. “I also want to ask why you’re here.”
“I and these fellow daoists have an appointment to hunt together in Fang Beishan.” Xiao Chunmian explained with a smile, and then turned sideways, so that he could introduce Yu Qiu to the people behind him.
Among the four people, one was in the fifth level of Qi Refining, and three were in the third level. The oldest one was the shifu4师父 – master, and the three were his disciples. Yu Qiu one by one went “nice to meet you, nice to meet you5久仰 – I’ve long looked forward to meeting you; It’s an honor to meet you at last,” but in fact, he didn’t remember any of their names and surnames.
According to Xiao Chunmian, ever since he got acquainted with these people a few days ago, they had agreed to hunt together in Fang Beishan everyday.
This Fang Beishan was not like Nanshan6South mountain. In Fang Nanshan, there were only some fierce birds and beasts that one in the second level in Qi Refining could still go across. However, since Fang Beishan was closer to Xuanyang mountain, its spiritual qi was more abundant, giving birth to a lot of demon beasts. Even one in the middle stage of Qi refining could easily get into an accident if they didn’t pay attention. Xiao Chumian and the others wouldn’t go in too deeply, just going around the periphery. This way, they wouldn’t easily encounter danger. They could even occasionally beat up one or two demon beats and earn a lot of spiritual stones.
“It’s just that… fellow daoist Xiao…” That middle-aged man in the fifth level of Qi Refining hesitated before saying, “That black tiger beast you mentioned just now, it’s not that we’re unwilling to help you, but coming across one is really not that easy.”
Xiao Chunmian frowned slightly. “But I heard from others that black tiger beasts are not uncommon in Fang Beishan.”
The middle-aged man stroked his nose and smiled bitterly. There were indeed lots of black tiger beasts in Fang Beishan, but they weren’t found on the periphery. He also took three disciples with him, so even though he was in the fifth level of Qi Refining, he didn’t want to take the risk in venturing deeply.
Xiao Chunmian could generally guess what was on his mind, and he couldn’t help but sigh.
“Black Tiger beast?” Yu Qiu asked timely. “What do you want the Black Tiger beast for?”
“I want to buy a custom brush for you,” Xiao Chunmian replied. “But that Tool Refining master said he lacked one kind of material, which is the mane of the Black Tiger beast.”Yu Qiu said “hey,” but secretly, he said: Didn’t I ask because I already knew the answer? Why are you so honest! Don’t you know how to leave me a nice surprise!
“What a coincidence, I’m also going to Fang Beishan to find some materials.” Then Yu Qiu said, “Why don’t we go together?”
“Does this fellow daoist also intend to go with us?” Hearing what was said, that middle-aged man swept his eyes over Yu Qiu.
Yu Qiu looked at him with a faint smile. “Weren’t you unwilling to go find the Black Tiger beast?”
The middle-aged man stared blankly.
But Yu Qiu had already stepped up the mountain path, only waving back to say, “I’m going la! You coming or not?”
Only then did the middle-aged man realize that Yu Qiu was not planning to go with them, but was planning to pry Xiao Chunmian away from them. He didn’t know whether he should be shocked or angry, totally between laughter and tears. “Merely in the third level of Qi Refining, really doesn’t know the immensity of heaven and earth!”
Xiao Chunmian shook his head helplessly and said, “Fellow daoist Zhang, I’m really embarrassed. It seems that we can only part ways at this point.”
That middle-aged man was truly shocked this time. “Fellow daoist Xiao, you think clearly. This Fang Beishan is different from other places. Both of you are only in the third level of Qi Refining, don’t you know how to fear death? That guy doesn’t know his own weight and has run off to court death. Do you really want to follow him?”
“Many thanks, fellow daoist, for reminding me.” Xiao Chunmian gave him a token of gratitude, but when he raised his head and revealed a pair of clear and bright eyes, there was a smile within them. “But since we’re both that likely to meet danger, then the more I won’t feel at ease if I let him go alone. Fellow daoist, please understand.”
The middle-aged man wanted to say some more, but Xiao Chunmian had already followed after Yu Qiu’s figure up the mountain road.
“Young people nowadays ah!” The middle-aged man had to shake his head and sigh.
Yu Qiu’s figure was walking ahead, but when he turned a corner, he could no longer see it.
Xiao Chunmian didn’t hurry. He walked all the way to that corner and, as expected, Yu Qiu was waiting for him there.
“Aren’t you worried that I’m on my own?” Yu Qiu raised an eyebrow.
“How could I?” Xiao Chunmian said with a smile. “Xiao Qiu is the most powerful. You’ll have to cover me more later.”
Yu Qiu snorted coldly, but he was a little pleased, so he continued to walk forward. “Then why didn’t you say it straight to that guy?”
“Fellow daoist Zhang simply has good intentions in reminding us.” Xiao Chunmian walked side by side with him. “Since he harbors no ill intent, why do I need to especially refute him? Let’s just follow his words and fulfill his good intentions.”
“You’re…” Yu Qiu sighed. “Really too roundabout7 迂 – Could mean long-winded or not straightforward, but here YQ is just saying that XCM is old-fashioned, insisting on morality and integrity.!”
Xiao Chunmian smiled.
“You’re too good to everyone!” Yu Qiu scolded. “It’s really…” What was it really? Yu Qiu suddenly got stuck.
Thinking about it carefully, if Xiao Chunmian weren’t such a warm and soft person who is eager to be good to everyone in the world, he wouldn’t have bothered to help Yu Qiu back then, and Yu Qiu wouldn’t have known him.
But despite understanding this truth, Yu Qiu was still very unhappy inside. It was like, you’d take out your heart and lungs8To devote yourself to someone, to love someone very much for one person, but that person would also take out his heart and lungs for everyone.
The two walked in silence when, all of a sudden, a small demon beast jumped out from the roadside.
Yu Qiu didn’t move, merely watching as that demon beast extended its sharp claws and jumped towards him. As he waited, a pale blue sword light flashed across him from behind, cutting the beast’s waist in half.
“Not bad,” Yu Qiu casually commented. “The progress is great. You’ve learned nearly a quarter of that sword manual, right?”
Xiao Chunmian was surprised. “It’s exactly a quarter.”
Yu Qiu nodded. “This sword technique level is not bad. You can more or less master it in the middle stage. Several other styles can be mastered in the late stage. You should use more of the parts that you’ve already learned, so you can become more proficient. Even if a better sword manual can be found later, a foundation must be well-established.”
Hearing this, Xiao Chunmian was even more surprised. “Xiao Qiu, have you also studied the sword manual?”
Yu Qiu responded evasively, “Slightly.”
Actually, Yu Qiu was not the least bit interested in sword manuals… The reason why he understood these things was simply because, in his previous life, Xu Hong was also a sword cultivator. All day long, he’d study a pile of sword manuals, and Yu Qiu happened to see them.
Speaking of which, he had thought of Xu Hong a bit more recently. It seems that, although these two words were still so disgusting, they had become less intimidating. This was a good thing. After all, Xu Hong was a thing of the past. When wounds heal, they leave behind scars that will keep one constantly alert.
By saying he had gained some basic knowledge of sword manuals, then it could be said that his time with Xu Hong was not all useless.
Yu Qiu sighed and continued to let Xiao Chunmian deal with the little demon beasts that popped up from time to time. Following him, he blurted out directions from the side. It wasn’t until they had gone for about two hours that they encountered a large white bear spirit for the first time, and Yu Qiu finally threw out a few talismans.
Seeing the white bear that he wasn’t able to resolve for a long time instantly turn into coke9 焦炭 – refers to processed coal used in blast furnace, not the softdrink XD, Xiao Chunmian inevitably felt a sense of loss. “Sure enough, xiao Qiu is really awesome.”
“It’s all because I have talismans on hand,” Yu Qiu chuckled and tapped on that pile of talismans. “If I give you all these talismans and let you use sword techniques to match them, you will be several times stronger than–than that guy in those days.”
“That guy?” Xiao Chunmian couldn’t help but notice that one word.
Yu Qiu smiled and shook his head, not intending to elaborate on the past.
The sky was already getting dark. If Yu Qiu were to explain the old days to Xiao Chunmian, it would be a long story. They still hadn’t found the Black Tiger beast, so it was best not to explain who that guy was first. And if worst comes to worst, they might have to sleep outdoors tonight.
After some time, the two began to collect firewood. Just as the sun sank, the fire had been made. The two squeezed in front of the fire to warm their hands, but they felt no warmth.
“Why did you order a custom-made brush for me?” Yu Qiu’s face was tinted red by the fire. “You even dare to hunt a Black Tiger beast?”
“Because I saw that you’ve been visiting the market a lot recently.” Xiao Chunmian smiled. “When I thought about it, I guessed you needed a brush.”
Yu Qiu nodded and sighed in his heart: It’s really like this. This guy was so gentle with everyone. Him taking note that Yu Qiu wanted to buy a brush was really nothing special and worth being happy about…
But then Xiao Chunmian followed up to say, “Not to mention, I am also your person.”
“What?” Yu Qiu’s heart suddenly leaped.
“I am your person.” Xiao Chunmian leaned in with a teasing glint in his eyes. “Isn’t this what you said?”
Right now, even without the reflection from the fire, Yu Qiu’s face would most likely be red.
“Yu Qiu.” Xiao Chunmian approached in the firelight.
He called him Yu Qiu, not xiao Qiu. Less intimate, but more solemn.
Yu Qiu’s heart thumped, as if time had stopped at this moment