Xiao Chunmian took a step forward, blocking Yu Qiu behind him, then smiled at Gao Conghan. “Senior Gao’s question is really interesting.”
Gao Conghan turned his eyes to him.
“Are xiao Qiu and I Dao companions?” said Xiao Chunmian. “Even if it were, what does it have to do with you?”
As soon as these words came out, Gao Conghan immediately sneered. His eyes full of hostility seemed to bore two holes into the other person’s body. Even his fingertips were put on top of the sword hilt.
Xiao Chunmian intensely felt this hostility. He narrowed his eyes, and unexpectedly, a fighting intent was also brewing.
Yu Qiu was surprised when he saw this from the sidelines. Ever since knowing Xiao Chunmian, Xiao Chunmian had always been gentle and amiable to everyone. How could he be this kind of hostile person? Even though Gao Conghan had nearly cut off his neck, when they met again, he had been very polite. Why was he suddenly hostile now?
On that note, why was Gao Conghan suddenly hostile as well? Like in that previous question on whether they were Dao companions or not, why did it seem to be asked with great anger? Whether or not he and Xiao Chunmian were Dao companions, why would he get angry over it? Could it be… Gao Conghan had also figured out that Xiao Chunmian was a woman disguised as a man? Did he want to pursue Xiao Chunmian but was rejected?
Right, a person as arrogant as Gao Conghan would only be very angry after being rejected. Though Xiao Chunmian was gentle and amiable, if he faced a man he didn’t like, he would also be annoyed when he could no longer stand him bothering him. What’s more, for a guy like Gao Conghan, at one glance, Yu Qiu just knew that his way of courting would no way be normal.
Yu Qiu felt he had discovered a new blind spot. He thought this guess was very likely!
So he resolutely stepped forward again and took it upon himself1当仁不让 – not pass on to others what one is called upon to do to put Xiao Chunmian behind him. Looking at Gao Conghan as if he were a love rival, the corner of his lip twitched and he sneered. “This yingxiong, don’t you know that a man who keeps pestering is the most annoying?” 2讨人厌 – can also mean disgusting or horrid
Anyway, they were now in the middle stage of Qi Refining. They had the courage to shake their faces3甩脸子 – to grimace with displeasure; to pull a long face at a seriously injured cultivator in the late stage of Qi Refining.
As a result, Yu Qiu’s words worked wonders. Just after the voice fell, Gao Conghan’s eyes flashed and he snorted coldly. Then he restrained his hostility, though his face was still full of rage. “You guys got lucky!”
When his irritability passed, he coldly stabbed the tree trunk with the small flying sword he had on hand. Then he stood up, dragged his wounded leg, and limped to the corpse of that hill-like demon beast. He crouched in front of that huge wound on the demon beast’s belly, took out a bottle from his arms, extended it towards the wound, then began collecting those drops of blood trickling from the wound and into the bottle.
Xiao Chunmian and Yu Qiu looked at each other for a while, before Yu Qiu shrieked as he finally realized: In front of them was the body of a top-grade ninth-rank demon beast. Every part of it at this stage were all hard-to-obtain materials. They could all sell them for a lot of money!
Yu Qiu hurriedly ran in a daze towards the demon beast’s dead body, but then he ran back to take the sword from Xiao Chunmian’s waist, and then he ran out again. He quickly cut apart the mane around the Black Tiger Beast King’s neck.
Xiao Chunmian shook his head with a smile and walked over. He took out a pocket knife from his arms and cut the mane on the other side.
A moment later, Gao Conghan had filled three bottles of blood, while Yu Qiu and Xiao Chunmian had shaved off the neck of the beast. Then each with a blade, they began to skin and chop it into eight equal pieces.
While doing such bloody things, Gao Conghan tried to chat with Yu Qiu. “You have a good sword. What’s its name?”
Yu Qiu went stagnant. Name? Just seeing a sword and he thinks it should have a name, what is up with him? Well, Yu Qiu did know that most sword cultivators have this kind of problem. However, Gao Conghan didn’t seem to be a sword cultivator. How could he also have this kind of problem?
While Yu Qiu was hesitating, Xiao Chunmian answered with a smile, “Ruo Qiu4若秋 – It means “like autumn,” where the character for autumn (秋 | pronounced as qiū) is the same character in Yu Qiu’s name. sword.”
Gao Conghan raised his head to look at Xiao Chunmian, and the clashing of swords seemed to resound when their eyes met in the air between Yu Qiu. After that, they both looked away at the same time and continued to focus on the bloody task at hand.
Soon, the skin was peeled and the meat was cut. All that was left of that large demon beast was an empty skeleton. Even then, they didn’t spare the skeleton. They began to tear apart the bones in a tak, tak, tak5啪啦啪啦 – Minor note, but the actual onomatopoeia used in the raws is “pā lā pā lā.” I thought it sounded weird in English, so I changed it.. Then at last, the bones were divided into three piles. But with the blood, flesh, and fur, three piles weren’t that spectacular.
Gao Conghan stroked the ring on his hand and swept all those things inside with ease6潇潇洒洒 – to do something in a natural and confident manner. Everything was immediately neatly cleared before their eyes. He stood up and patted his clothes. It seemed that he was satisfied with today’s harvest, so he turned around and prepared to leave.
Only Yu Qiu and Xiao Chunmian were left, still worrying about the spoils of war before them.
But then Gao Conghan over there, who had already comfortably7潇潇洒洒 – Uses the same idiom in footnote 3, but “naturally walked” and “confidently walked” both give it a really different vibe, so I didn’t go with either of those. “Walking with ease” also doesn’t sound right, so I went with “comfortably” instead. It’s a bit of a stretch, but it will do. walked a long way, suddenly raised his hand and threw a shiny thing over. As it casually floated over in the wind, he said four words: “Giving this to you.”
As soon as the words fell, Gao Conghan’s figure was already gone.
When that shiny thing fell on the ground, Yu Qiu picked it up and saw that it was actually another ring.
Storage rings were quite expensive for those in the Qi Refining period. Well, even many Foundation Building cultivators could only afford storage bags. And in general, small roque cultivators in the Qi Refining period were most unlikely to have a storage bag. They would all load their things in sacks.
One really couldn’t see that this high and cold guy was actually generous enough.
“For you.” Yu Qiu handed the ring to Xiao Chunmian. “Do you want it?”
Xiao Chunmian was taken aback as he looked at him. After a long while, he said, “I think… this should be for you.”
“Is it?” Yu Qiu looked at the ring over and over for a long time. “No way ba. He wants to give it to you. What reason could he have to give it to me?”
For some reason, at this moment, Xiao Chunmian unexpectedly felt a bit of sympathy for Gao Conghan. “Anyways… it should surely be for you. If you want to accept it, then accept it. If you don’t, then throw it away ba.”
Hearing that, Yu Qiu thought Xiao Chunmian was just unwilling to accept the gift from Gao Conghan, so he was using this lame excuse to push the ring into his hands.
Seeing the inexplicable look on Xiao Chunmian’s face, he felt certain that he had once again discovered the truth.
Looked like he didn’t have to worry about Xiao Chunmian being chased by Gao Conghan! Yu Qiu giddily said, “Since it’s for me, then of course I should accept it.”
Then he put the ring on his finger.
Immediately afterwards, he cleared the two hills in front of him, and returned the sword in his hand to Xiao Chunmian. Then he patted his clothes and turned to go home with Xiao Chunmian.
On the way, Yu Qiu asked, “Ruo Qiu sword. Did you name it after me?”
Yu Qiu “hey”-ed and said, “Why would you call it with that name?”
Xiao Chunmian gently stroked the sword and said, “Because you gave it to me.”
Ruo Qiu, Ruo Qiu… Was this “qiu” character really the same as Yu Qiu’s “qiu”8In Chinese, different characters, with entirely different meanings, can have the same pronunciation.? Yu Qiu chewed over these two characters in his heart and felt quite sweet.
“I plan to take part in the entrance exam of Xuanyang Sect two months later,” Yu Qiu said all of a sudden.
“… Xuanyang Sect?” Xiao Chunmian was startled. “Could it be the Xuanyang Sect after Fang Beishan?”
“Naturally. That’s the only Xuanyang Sect,” said Yu Qiu. “Although Xuanyang Sect is third-rate… cough, I mean, Xuanyang is a sect that accepts all kinds of cultivators, except for demonic cultivators. There are lots of sword cultivator experts, but they are no better than those in specialized sword cultivation sects. But then again, it’s nearby, so Xuanyang Sect is also a choice for you. How about you join me in the entrance9I previously translated this as Fire Refining, coz the dictionary I use defines 试炼 as “to refine with fire.” And I just went with it, coz it sounds very xianxia-ish anyway… But as I read on, I feel like it’s really not referring to a field in Refining (unlike Tools Refining). So I’m now translating the entire 入门试炼 as “entrance exam,” since “refine with fire” seems to be metaphorical here haha exam?”
Xiao Chunmian listened quietly and was silent for a while. Then he said with a smile, “Xiao Qiu, are you inviting me to accompany you?”
“Not just to accompany me!” Yu Qiu’s face was completely serious. “Since you’ve already arrived at the middle stage of Qi Refining, you should try to pass the entrance test of Xuanyang Sect this year, even if it’s just for yourself. If you pass even a year earlier, it will be a big step ahead of others.”
Xiao Chunmian nodded. “Then I’ll join ba.”
Yu Qiu saw him speak lightly and thought he didn’t take it seriously. He took the trouble to tell him again, “Don’t think this thing is easy. Many cultivators in the late stage of Qi Refining wouldn’t be able to pass it the first time! Even if I’m gonna look after you, in these remaining two months, you should also try to upgrade to at least the fifth level of Qi Refining. But of course, the sixth level is the best…”
As he was telling him off, he looked up and saw Xiao Chunmian’s expression, and he couldn’t help but stop the conversation.
After that brief exhortation, Xiao Chunmian’s face was already full of fighting spirit.
“Joining a sect…” Xiao Chunmian murmured in a low voice, “You can become stronger faster…”
At this moment, Xiao Chunmian was like a sword out of its scabbard. So sharp, it couldn’t be described.
Yu Qiu felt he was completely unfamiliar that he couldn’t help but blink.
But in the blink of an eye, Xiao Chunmian’s face returned to that soft and gentle look Yu Qiu was familiar with. The sharp fighting intent disappeared in a flash without a trace. It was as if Yu Qiu’s eyes had only blurred for a moment.
“Since xiaoqiu has said so, then I will certainly do it.” Xiao Chunmian said with a gentle smile, “Don’t worry about me.”
Yu Qiu nodded, and sure enough, that dark look just now was really just because his vision had gone vague for a moment.
In the early morning of the next day, they finally returned to Fangshanji. Xiao Chunmian went to hand over the mane of Black Tiger Beast King to the owner of the stall, while Yu Qiu immediately went back to catch up on sleep.
When he had enough sleep, Yu Qiu opened his eyes and got up from the bed in a daze. Then all of a sudden, he slapped his forehead when he remembered that he had been waiting to listen to what Xiao Chunmian wanted to say. But Gao Conghan had interrupted them again, and it eventually slipped his mind!
He quickly wiped his face and went out to find Xiao Chunmian, but it turned out that he wasn’t home. Asking his old man, he learned that Xiao Chunmian had hurriedly returned before he fell asleep, then hurriedly washed his body clean all over, and then he actually hurriedly ran back to the mountains to hunt again.
The old man was still pointing his finger at Yu Qiu, complaining incessantly how the two were all covered in blood when they returned earlier. It really scared him to death.
Yu Qiu wiped his face again, appeased the old man, and then went back to his room. Stroking the ring on his finger, he let out the piles of blood and flesh of that Black Tiger Beast King. Little by little, he moved them to sell in the market.
As for the words Xiao Chunmian were yet to say, Yu Qiu had no choice but to once again push it down to the bottom of his heart, thinking that there’d always be a chance to ask him again.