unsheathed – Chapter 84 (2): I Have a Sword

Chapter 84 (2): I Have a Sword

Chapter 84 (2): I Have a Sword

Cui Chan averted his gaze slightly so that he was no longer looking at the film of water. He then closed his eyes to rest for a moment, and upon reopening his eyes, he discovered that Li Baoping had already crossed the bridge.

Cui Chan's brows furrowed slightly as he mused, "Could it be that the old blacksmith is naturally resentful of our Great Li Empire because of the imperial family's excessive cruelty and brutality? Could that be why he also feels a sense of resentment toward me by extension?

But that doesn't make sense! His true history is impossible to trace with the exception of some unsubstantiated rumors, but as an ancient swordsman, surely he's seen all types of brutality and savagery, so this really shouldn't be bothering him."

The scene being depicted on the film of water was drawing closer and closer to the blacksmith shop, but all of a sudden, the film of water abruptly exploded without any warning, sending countless water droplets flying in all directions with such incredible force that they were able to punch holes through the surrounding walls, windows, and pillars.

However, all of the water droplets hurtling toward Cui Chan and the young boy were instantly stopped in their tracks before exploding into even tinier water droplets, as if they had just crashed into some type of impenetrable, invisible wall.

At the same time, Ruan Qiong's voice rang out from up above. "You better not push your luck any further than this!"

Cui Chan raised his head with a grin as he said, "What a stingy old Sage you are! Fine, if you don't want me to look, then I won't look, let's be civilized. I'm staying in the ancestral residence of the Yuan Clan right now, what if they hold me accountable for all this damage after I return to the capital city?"

He then lowered his gaze as he murmured to himself, "The former citizens of the Lu Empire should've arrived by now."

After that, he took a glance at the young boy, then withdrew his gaze as he gently tapped his left and right index fingers together within his sleeves while continuing to murmur to himself, "It's better to be safe than sorry."

By the time Li Huai, Dong Shuijing, and the coach driver found Chen Ping'an, he was in the process of helping someone construct a house.

Li Huai's eyes were constantly darting around, giving him a sneaky and scheming appearance, while Dong Shuijing wore a natural expression, displaying remarkable composure.

Chen Ping'an's entire body was covered in dust as he made his way over to the trio, then asked, "I heard you were looking for me?"

The coach driver had a very unremarkable appearance, looking no different from the average farmer, and he rubbed his hands together while approaching Chen Ping'an, then asked in a quiet voice, "Can we go somewhere else?"

"No," Chen Ping'an refused with a firm shake of his head. "If you have something to say, then say it here."

A hint of displeasure appeared on the coach driver's face, but internally, he was slightly relieved. This was the type of response that he expected from a boy of Chen Ping'an's status.

After a moment of hesitation, the coach driver asked, "You know Mr. Qi from the school, right?"

"Who in this town doesn't know Mr. Qi?" Chen Ping'an snapped in an impatient manner. "But as for whether Mr. Qi knows us, that's hard to say."

Li Huai was standing off to the side, doing his best to suppress his sly grin, while Dong Shuijing took a meaningful glance at Chen Ping'an.

All of a sudden, someone yelled from the house under construction, "Don't slack off, Chen Ping'an! If you're done talking, then get back here and continue working!"

Chen Ping'an heaved a faint sigh as he urged, "If you have something to say, then make it as quick and straightforward as possible."

The coach driver rubbed a hand over his own face, then exhaled as he said in a low voice, "I was entrusted by the Great Li Empire with the task of protecting these children with my life on their journey to Mountain Cliff Academy. Of course, I won't deny that I'm also responsible for making sure that they aren't taken away by other people, such as people from Great Sui Nation or Lake View Academy.

It doesn't matter if you don't know what I'm talking about, nor does it matter whether you believe me or not. I don't care what your relationship with Mr. Qi was like, and I don't care if you knew Ma Zhan or not, but I'm here to tell you that you should be on your guard for at least the near future because Mr. Ma was killed during our journey to Mountain Cliff Academy.

Prior to his death, Mr. Ma mentioned you to me on a couple of occasions during the chats that we had, and one time, he told me that while he was sweeping the schoolyard quite some time ago, he recalled frequently seeing a child who came to squat under the window of the school to eavesdrop on the lessons being taught.

The second time he mentioned you was when he spoke about how before Mr. Qi resigned from his positions as schoolteacher and mountain master of Mountain Cliff Academy, he once mentioned that you had the potential to be a good scholar, and that it was a pity that he couldn't take you to Mountain Cliff Academy as well."

A wry smile appeared on the coach driver's face as he continued, "Right now, I'm most worried about these children. Their clans have all moved to the capital city of the Great Li Empire, so they have no homes to return to, and going to the academy is also no longer an option for them.

Not just anyone can go and receive an education at Mountain Cliff Academy. The capital city of our Great Li Empire is home to over 1,000,000 residents, yet throughout all these years, only around a dozen students of Mountain Cliff Academy have come out of the capital, and all of them went on to become high-ranking officials"

Li Huai's head was lowered, making it impossible to glean his expression, while Dong Shuijing remained completely expressionless.

All of a sudden, Ruan Xiu gently cleared her throat from afar, and as Chen Ping'an turned to look at her, she gave him a smile and a nod.

Upon receiving this subtle signal from Ruan Xiu, Chen Ping'an turned to the two boys and said, "You two, come with me, I have something to ask you."

Li Huai immediately gave an affirmative response, then strode toward Chen Ping'an while dragging Dong Shuijing along behind him.

By the time the coach driver realized that something wasn't quite right, Chen Ping'an had already dragged Li Huai and Dong Shuijing behind him, following which he took a step forward as he said, "Thanks for coming to tell me all of this.

From now on, I'll take care of these children in Mr. Ma's stead. Whether we go to the capital city to reunite with their parents or do something else, I'll have to ask them what they want to do first."

An awkward smile appeared on the coach driver's face, and he said, "I don't think that's a good idea, Chen Ping'an. I'm more capable of keeping them safe than you are."

Chen Ping'an smiled and replied, "It's alright. I'm rich now, and I know Governor Wu Yuan and Right-hand Minister Dong Hu of the ministry of rites. If something happens, I'll go to them for help. Of course, I'll get Master Ruan to pass on the message to them rather than going to them directly."

The coach driver's brows furrowed slightly upon hearing this, and all of a sudden, he noticed a male figure out of the corner of his eye, standing beneath the eave of a nearby house.

The coach driver was considering taking matters into his own hands and having Chen Ping'an killed, but the sight of Ruan Qiong instantly had him sweating profusely, and he turned to Chen Ping'an with a smile as he said, "Alright, seeing as Mr. Ma was willing to place his trust in you, I am certainly willing to do the same.

If you need anything from me from now on, you can find me on Three Mound Alley in the northern part of the town. I live in the northernmost house on the alley."

"I'll be sure to do so," Chen Ping'an replied with a friendly smile, and the coach driver turned to depart.

Sweat began to bead up on Chen Ping'an's forehead, and only after the coach driver had completely disappeared out of sight did he turn to the two boys as he said, "Come with me, I'll take you to see Li Baoping."

"Has Li Baoping already told you everything?" Li Huai asked.

Chen Ping'an nodded in response.

"What are we going to do about Shi Chunjia and Lin Shouyi?" Dong Shuijing asked.

"They've already been brought here," Chen Ping'an replied with a smile.

Dong Shuijing took a glance at him and remained silent.

In the same swordsmithing room from before, Chen Ping'an was standing across from the five children, who were seated next to one another on a pair of long benches. In descending order of age, the sequence was Shi Chunjia, Lin Shouyi, Dong Shuijing, Li Baoping, and Li Huai.

Aside from Li Huai, who was the youngest one among them by a relatively significant margin, the other four children were all only a few months apart in age.

"Li Huai and Dong Shuijing already told me about the situation. What exactly do you think that coach driver wants to do?" Chen Ping'an asked.

Lin Shouyi's fox fur coat was missing, but he still wore his usual cold expression as he scoffed, "We don't even know why Cui Minghuang killed Mr. Ma, how are we supposed to know anything else?"

Shi Chunjia was sidled up tightly against Li Baoping's shoulder, and her complexion was still slightly pale with unease. However, after returning to the town, and particularly after seeing Chen Ping'an, who she was relatively familiar with, she was feeling a lot more safe and secure. At the very least, she didn't have to worry about suddenly suffering the same horrific fate as Mr. Ma.

While they were digging a grave for Ma Zhan, she had been hiding far away, bawling her eyes out in horror and distress, not contributing any effort at all. Li Huai hadn't fared much better, either, hiding even further away than she had while his teeth chattered uncontrollably in fear.

At this moment, Li Huai had his arms wound around his own stomach as he murmured with a dejected expression, "I'm so hungry and thirsty. This must be what starvation feels like. Mother, Father, if only you could see how much your son is suffering right now."

Li Baoping turned to glare at him as she snapped, "Shut up!"

Li Huai's head drooped even lower, and he tugged furtively on Dong Shuijing's sleeve as he asked, "Shuijing, you hungry?"

"I can pretend not to be hungry," Dong Shuijing replied in a calm manner, to which Li Huai rolled his eyes in exasperation.

Li Baoping was also looking quite deflated as she absentmindedly grabbed onto one of Shi Chunjia's braids before swinging it vigorously. "Right now, everything is a mystery to us. Lin Shouyi is right, we're dealing with opponents far more cunning and resourceful than ourselves, and we're completely outmatched.

Our top priority right now should be to ensure our own survival. Only after ensuring our own safety can we think about other things, such as informing our families in the Great Li Empire's capital city that we're safe."

As soon as Li Baoping mentioned informing their families of their current status, all of the children immediately turned reflexively to Chen Ping'an.

Chen Ping'an was silent for a long while, then declared, "If we can't figure out what our opponents are thinking, then let's at least make sure we're all on the same page ourselves."

None of the children raised any objections to this, and Chen Ping'an asked, "Do you want to go to the capital city to find your families, or do you want to do something else?"

An indignant look immediately appeared on Li Huai's face as he howled, "I'd rather die than go to the capital! My parents and my sister are having the time of their lives somewhere out there, and given the personalities of everyone in my uncle's family, if they're rich now, then they'll only pick on me even more than before!

They were regarding me as a thief before, they'll probably see me as a sworn enemy now! The world is so vast, yet there's nowhere for me to go!"

Li Baoping reached around Shi Chunjia before giving Li Huai a firm slap on the back of the head, and he immediately fell into a dejected silence again.

After a moment of contemplation, Dong Shuijing declared, "I want to continue my studies. If my parents were still in the town, I could help them work in the fields instead of going to school, but what could I possibly do if I go to the capital? I don't even know the official dialect that they speak there, and I'm not a fast learner like Li Baoping.

Besides, back when my grandfather died, he insisted that I had to receive an education. He said that if I don't become a scholar in the future, then he won't accept me as his grandson, and he doesn't want me to visit his grave. If the school in the town is going to keep running, then I'll stay in the town."

Tears welled up in Shi Chunjia's eyes as she said in a timid voice, "I want to go to the capital to find my parents."

As for Lin Shouyi, his brows were tightly furrowed as he said, "I'll go anywhere that's safe."

Li Baoping crossed her arms, and her eyes were glowing with the radiance of her aspirations as she loudly declared, "I want to go to Mountain Cliff Academy, the place where Mr. Qi studied!"

She then rose to her feet, standing between Chen Ping'an and the other four children, and she pointed at Dong Shuijing as she continued, "Mr. Qi's Mountain Cliff Academy is the most renowned academy on the entire Eastern Treasured Vial Continent, let alone the Great Li Empire.

If your grandfather knew that you were passing up the opportunity to go to Mountain Cliff Academy to stay and study in the town, he would climb out of his grave to beat you! Of course, if you're scared of dying, then you can just stay and study here. In about 10 years or so, you can proclaim yourself as half a scholar. I suppose that's always better than dying on the way to seeking an education at Mountain Cliff Academy."

Dong Shuijing immediately became flushed with embarrassment.

Li Baoping then pointed at Lin Shouyi as she continued, "Aren't you always talking about how everyone looks down on you for being an illegitimate child? And aren't you always looking down on rich kids who grew up on Fortune Street like myself?

Who's going to dare to look down on you after you go to Mountain Cliff Academy? Then again, Mr. Qi is right in saying that a wise man doesn't take undue risks, so if you want to stay here, then you can do as you please, it's not like I care."

As soon as Li Baoping pointed her finger at Shi Chunjia, the latter immediately burst into tears.

A frustrated and exasperated look appeared on Li Baoping's face, and she didn't even bother to say anything to Shi Chunjia before returning to her seat.

Li Huai turned to Li Baoping with a perplexed expression and asked, "Why didn't you say anything to me?"

"I don't want to talk to you," Li Baoping replied.

Li Huai was momentarily dumbstruck by this response, then raised his head to look up at the heavens with a look of melancholy and indignation in his eyes.

Chen Ping'an focused his gaze solely on Li Baoping, ignoring the other four children as he asked, "Are you sure you want to go to Mountain Cliff Academy?"

Li Baoping nodded in response. "Mr. Qi once told us that Mountain Cliff Academy has the best book collection on the entire continent! He also said that even if there are some questions I have that even he can't answer, I'll be able to find all the answers in those books!"Read latest ovls at nv/e/l/bi(.)com

It was clear that Li Baoping was convinced that she was already a student of the prestigious academy.

"It could be a very arduous journey. Are you not afraid?" Chen Ping'an asked.

Li Baoping's spirit was slightly dampened upon hearing this, and she conceded, "I'd be a little afraid if I had to go on my own."

"That settles it then," Chen Ping'an declared with a bright smile.

"What do you mean?" Li Baoping asked with a perplexed expression.

"I'll go to Mountain Cliff Academy with you," Chen Ping'an explained with a serious expression.

Li Baoping was about to say something in reply, but the words got stuck in her throat, and tears began to well up in her eyes. If it weren't for the fact that the other four children were sitting next to her, she would've already erupted into sobs.

Just like the first time she caught that crab from the creek long ago, she had actually already cried in secret outside, and that was why she was able to keep up such a proud and triumphant facade after returning home.

Chen Ping'an beckoned to Li Baoping, and as she arrived by his side, he turned to the other four children sitting on the benches as he said, "Wait here for a little bit. Li Baoping and I are going to go speak to someone, and the matters we'll be discussing will concern the four of you as well, so don't go anywhere."

He then latched onto Li Baoping's hand and led her out of the swordsmithing room.

As he did so, he began to talk to himself, but it also seemed as if he were speaking to someone else as he murmured, "I told you that if you make a promise, then you have to keep that promise."

Li Baoping was wiping tears from her eyes as she said, "But at the time, you also said that if you can't keep a promise, then you can just tell the person you made the promise to."

Chen Ping'an shook his head as he replied in a gentle voice, "Mr. Qi is no longer with us, so he won't be able to hear anything that I tell him."

Around 15 minutes later, Chen Ping'an and Li Baoping had already disappeared into the distance, but Ruan Qiong was still seated on the small bamboo chair, seemingly yet to return to his senses.

Ruan Xiu was also seated on a chair, looking at the empty bamboo chair with a myriad of complex emotions surging through her heart.

Chen Ping'an had only just asked Ruan Qiong to help him purchase those five mountains, yet he was going to leave the town soon. If he couldn't come back, then he was going to leave four of the five mountains, namely Downtrodden Mountain, Treasured Scripture Mountain, Rainbow Cloud Mountain, and Immortal Herb Mountain to Liu Xianyang, Gu Can, Ning Yao, and Ruan Xiu, respectively, leaving only True Jewel Mountain to himself for the next 300 years.

As for the pastry shop and the Burclover shop, he had asked Master Ruan to hire people to look after the shop in his stead, and it didn't matter to him if the shops were forced to close down due to mismanagement.

However, he was going to leave behind the 100 or so normal snake gall pebbles for Master Ruan to sell, and all proceeds would go to keeping the two shops afloat. Even though he wasn't concerned about whether the two shops made profits or not, he wanted every single employee in both shops to be told that the two shops were owned by a household with the Chen surname on Clay Vase Alley.

Furthermore, he had entrusted Master Ruan with the duty of taking the four children safely to the capital city of the Great Li Empire.

As compensation, Chen Ping'an had given Ruan Qiong half of that slab of Dragon Slaying Platform, as well as all of the remaining gold essence copper coins leftover following his purchases of the mountains and the shops.

Ruan Qiong didn't refuse. However, he only promised to take Chen Ping'an and Li Baoping to the southern border of the Great Li Empire. As for what would become of them after they crossed the border, that would be entirely down to fate, and Chen Ping'an had agreed to this arrangement.

At dusk, Chen Ping'an ensured that the five children had a place to stay, then made his way toward the town on his own.

He crossed the stone bridge and entered the town, then returned to his house on Clay Vase Alley. At this point, night had already fallen, and he lit a lamp with a calm expression.

Facing the flame in the lamp, Chen Ping'an stayed up the entire night, just as he would during the Spring Festival of each year to observe the passing of one year to the next.

The calm yet resolute look on his face was illuminated by the glow of the flickering flame.

On the stone bridge, someone smiled as they asked, "A dark room for a thousand years, a room illuminated with a single light. What do you think, Senior?"

"I accept," someone else replied.

By the time Chen Ping'an "woke up", he found himself face-to-face with that enigmatic figure for the fourth time.

The figure was hovering in mid-air, and their pristine white sleeves were swaying gently despite the lack of wind.

The figure landed gently on the ground before making their way toward Chen Ping'an, and with each step that they took, their facial features would become slightly clearer.

The figure was still tall and imposing, but not bloated or clumsy in the slightest, and as it turned out, it was a woman.

In Chen Ping'an's eyes, she was extremely beautiful, so much so that she was absolutely perfect, with no room to become any more beautiful.

Finally, she drew to a halt as she stood in front of Chen Ping'an, and she bent over slightly, lowering her head to look into Chen Ping'an's clean and pure eyes. She then said in a gentle voice, "I've already been waiting for 8,000 years. Chen Ping'an, your aptitude for cultivation is far inferior to that of my former master, but no matter."

She leaned in even closer, to the point that her forehead almost came into contact with Chen Ping'an's, and she requested, "Chen Ping'an, I want you to relay a message for me to the four worlds outside. Can you do that?"

Chen Ping'an reflexively nodded in response, and the woman smiled as she suddenly sank to one knee.

Even so, she was still able to look straight into Chen Ping'an's eyes just by raising her head ever so slightly.

"From this day forth, you, Chen Ping'an, will be my second and final master."

Chen Ping'an looked on with a dazed expression.

The woman's entire body was glowing with pristine white radiance, and her eyes narrowed slightly with her smile as she knelt down on one knee toward the dumbstruck Chen Ping'an. Her features were glowing, and her eyes seemed to be filled with a world of radiance as she asked in a solemn voice, "Chen Ping'an, can you recite a vow with me?"

She extended a hand toward Chen Ping'an as she spoke, raising it vertically, and Chen Ping'an also extended a hand to gently press his palm against hers.

She closed her eyes as she recited, "Even if the Heavenly Dao were to collapse, I, Chen Ping'an, possess a single sword capable of moving mountains, splitting rivers, churning seas, taming demons, subjugating devils, slaying gods, impaling stars, destroying cities, and opening the heavens!"

Chen Ping'an recited along with her in his heart, "Even if the Heavenly Dao were to collapse, I, Chen Ping'an, possess a single sword capable of moving mountains, splitting rivers, churning seas, taming demons, subjugating devils, slaying gods, impaling stars, destroying cities, and opening the heavens!"

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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