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Chapter 38: To Ask For Guidance
The bone-eating beast swarm gave off shrieks like ghouls from hell. The female cultivator of Cool Breeze Sect felt that she and the young girl in front of her were two pieces of meat. The next moment, the bone-eating beasts would consume them completely.
She looked back at her shixiong who was completely soaked in blood. She gathered her disheveled hair, looked up at the bone-eating beasts coming close and gripped the sword in her hand. She had cultivated for almost two hundred years, yet she had never expected to die like this.
She once heard of a legend that if one’s remains were close to the sky, their soul would fly up and be protected by the gods. Would this kind of death be considered close to the sky? She looked towards the clouds. The wings of the bone-eating beasts were large and strong. They could probably fly very high? When she thought this, she felt some comfort at her immediate and horrific death.
Kong Hou had no attention to spare for the female cultivator’s thoughts. This was the first time she fought an evil cultivator since she started travelling. The moment she saw the bone-eating beasts swarming towards her, she thought of what she could do to defeat them.
The moment the phoenix head hairpin landed in her hand, it gave off blinding crimson gold light. A magnificent Phoenix Head Kong Hou appeared in the light. The phoenix head gave off a cry. The bone-eating beasts diving down seemed to fear this phoenix cry. They restlessly circled in the air and did not dare to go down.
The cultivator with the goatee did not care about this. He took out a black whistle from his sleeve and blew it. The bone-eating beasts circling restlessly hissed as they dove again.
Kong Hou was waiting for this moment. She turned and said to the female cultivator, “Seal your hearing!”
Her spirit energy gathered on the fingers of her right hand. The moment her fingers touched the strings of Phoenix Head, beautiful sound mixed with offensive power flew outward. The bone-eating beast at the very front split into pieces, the noxious odor of blood spreading through the air.
Yet Kong Hou did not stop. She plucked Phoenix Head’s strings even faster, the urgent music spreading everywhere.
The female cultivator of Cool Breeze Sect looked dazedly at the Phoenix Head Kong Hou floating magnificently in the air. Many black feathers fell down the sky like a grand rain. Yet she knew this was not a fantastic performance but a moment of life and death.
The bone-eating beasts who had been so rampant a moment ago fell from the sky, not one of them alive. Fortunately, the young girl in front of her had created a boundary so that the blood and corpses of the bone-eating beasts did not fall onto her and Shixiong.
The goatee-wearing cultivator’s expression changed. He could not grieve for the bone-eating beasts he had spent so much energy to train. He turned and wanted to flee. Yet Kong Hou would not give him this chance. She took down the lucky cloud hairpin in her hair. The hairpin turned into a blue sword. It flew across the sky with great force and passed through the legs of the goatee-wearing cultivator.
“Big Brother, save me!” The cultivator with the goatee wavered on the clouds and called for help as he saw Kong Hou and Phoenix Head, which had shrunk to the length of half an arm, chase after him. Yet the moment he turned his head, there was no trace of his big brother, just a white-robed man standing proudly on the jade ship and a black-robed man who had securely bound his big brother.
Seeing this, he knew that experts had come and interfered in their matter. Before he and his brother acted, he had investigated and learned that Three Trees Town was not very populated and the people were poor. They also did not have any cultivation sects present, which was why they dared to pursue the orthodox cultivators in the open. Where had these experts come from?
He ignored his captured big brother and threw out a talisman. In front of the Water Frost Sword, this talisman was easily sliced in two.
What was this sword that even first-class talismans could not stand up to it? Yet he had no time to contemplate this problem because the Water Frost Sword already stabbed into his spirit platform. His spirit energy immediately dissipated like a lamp without oil. His legs already crippled, the evil cultivator fell from the clouds with his spirit platform destroyed.
An evil cultivator without spirit energy was a tiger without teeth, just like an ordinary person.
“Aiya, my strike went astray?” Kong Hou covered her mouth and murmured. She originally wanted to stab him through the heart. However, she had never killed before and this was her first time truly fighting. Her spirit energy was completely used up, so her hand shook.
She turned back and peeked at Huan Zhong on the jade ship. He should not have seen this?
As an apprentice of Splendid Cloud Sect, she could not lose face at this time, and Splendid Cloud Sect could not lose their dignity. She sneaked a sigh of relief. She summoned back the Water Frost Sword. It was clean without any blood lingering on it. No wonder Shixiong had been so envious when Elder Qiu Shuang had given this Water Frost Sword to her. This sword was so powerful it even had the ability to clean itself.
This was good. At least when she turned it back into a hairpin and put it into her hair, she would not have any psychological barriers.
“She, she won?” Feng Qi looked at the ground covered in bone-eating beast corpses and almost didn’t believe his own eyes. The young girl standing among the bone-eating beast corpses used a handkerchief to wipe the lucky cloud hairpin and the phoenix head hairpin before putting them back into her hair. If he had not seen it with his own eyes, who would believe such beautiful and refined hairpins were terrifyingly powerful talismans?
He recovered from his shock, bowed towards Huan Zhong and Lin Hu, and then jumped off the jade ship to fly towards his shixiong and shijie.
“Shijie!” The snow on the ground had been dyed red by the bone-eating beasts. He knelt down on one knee in front of his shixiong and shijie. He reached out to take Shixiong‘s pulse. The pulse was almost undetectable. The wound at his chest still seeped blood and made him remember the sword strike which had gone through the chest. He trembled as he took out energy condensing pills. Before he could put one into Shixiong“s mouth, half of them spilled because his hand trembled too much.
“Useless.” Shijie‘s voice was hoarse as she watched Feng Qi shove medicine into Shixiong‘s mouth. Her tears fell again. “Shixiong, he…”
“If you keep on shoving medicine in, he will not die from his injuries but by choking on medicine.” Huan Zhong stood a few paces way. Completely untouched by dirt and dust as he stood in the bloody snow, so that people would feel that the dirty snow was a humiliation for him.
His expression was cold, and no one could hear any pity in his voice towards the dying. Feng Qi’s hands fell down powerlessly and he started to cry loudly in front of Shixiong. The disheveled female cultivator of Cool Breeze Sect also covered her face and sobbed.
“Lin Hu—” Huan Zhong looked to the side “—see if he can be saved.”
He turned and saw Kong Hou who was using rope to bind the goatee-wearing cultivator. Finally, his cold face had some warmth. In the end, this was someone that Kong Hou did all she could to rescue. Living was better than dead.
After Kong Hou bound up the goatee-wearing cultivator, she dragged him over. The face of the goatee-wearing cultivator rubbed over the ground covered in snow, corpses and blood. Maybe because the position he was being dragged in was too humiliating or his wounds were too serious, he kept on spitting blood and did not have the energy to curse.
Tying the rope around a tree, Kong Hou wiped her hands with a handkerchief. Her hands had some of the goatee-wearing cultivator’s blood on them. She did not like the smell of blood. Returning to the female cultivator, she saw Lin Hu healing the man on the ground. Kong Hou remained silent. Huan Zhong saw Kong Hou come over and handed her a bottle of spirit pills. “Are you injured?”
Because she had used too much spirit energy, Kong Hou’s expression was slightly pale. She took the pill bottle. As she wanted to pour a pill out to eat, she remembered that she had touched the goatee-wearing cultivator’s blood when restraining him and hadn’t washed her hands. She immediately felt nauseous. “Huan Zhong, feed me.”
When she said this, she saw Huan Zhong’s eyes shift to the left and not look at her. His face also turned slightly red. She finally realized that her words were ambiguous and hurriedly explained, “Do not misunderstand. I mean, my hands touched blood; I just wiped them and had no time to wash. So I need to trouble you to help me.”
Huan Zhong silently took the medicine bottle, poured out two pills, and carefully fed them into Kong Hou’s mouth. Kong Hou swallowed. “Thank you, Huan Zhong.”
“You are welcome.” Huan Zhong put his hands behind his back. His fingertips felt slightly hot.
“I’ve saved him from death.” Lin Hu took back the spirit energy he had been channeling to the male cultivator’s body and poured an entire bottle of medicinal liquid over the man’s wounds. “But he needs to rest for a while. He cannot use the sword during this time, and he needs to be careful when using spirit energy.”
“Thank you, Elder!” The female cultivator was overjoyed as she kowtowed to Lin Hu. Lin Hu moved to the side to dodge. He said with his eternally stiff face, “I just listen to my master’s orders. These medicines are all Master’s.”
“Thank you, Miss and Sir, for saving our lives.” The female cultivator did not feel embarrassed bowing to Kong Hou because she was younger in actual age than her. She knelt in front of the two and respectfully kowtowed.
Kong Hou moved two steps away and hid behind Huan Zhong. She felt she could not accept such a beautiful woman kowtowing to her. “Do not keep this on your mind. We are coincidentally passing by. How can we ignore something wrong like this? Evil cultivators like this should be killed by everyone.”
“To Miss and Sir, maybe it is just a wave of your hand, but to this one, it is a life.” The female cultivator kowtowed again. “This one is Ye Fei, an apprentice to Cool Breeze Sect’s sect master. The unconscious person is my eldest shixiong, Hu Yian. Ye Fei will never forget your favor today.”
Many times, when people had favors done for them, they said they would repay the favor but never said where they were from or who they were. Did they really want to pay back the favor, or were they afraid others would use their debt against them? Only people like Ye Fei who stated her sect and did not ask the benefactor’s identity were people who truly wanted to repay the favor one day in the future.
Seeing Ye Fei was going to keep on kowtowing, Kong Hou could not stand still. She walked in front of Ye Fei and helped her up. “It is not the time to say this. Your shixiong‘s injuries are urgent.”
It was not appropriate to have a seriously injured person with a hole in his body lie in the snow.
Huan Zhong waved his sleeve and had the floating jade ship land. “Carry him on board.”
“Many thanks, Elder.” Ye Fei and Feng Qi knew that they should not trouble their benefactor more, but Shixiong was unconscious and injured. They did not dare to gamble with Shixiong‘s life. They could only continue to owe people. Fortunately, this young master was a good-hearted person despite his cold face. Otherwise, they didn’t know what they would do.
When Ye Fei and Feng Qi got the bloodied Hu Yian onto the jade ship, Huan Zhong curled his finger. The goatee-wearing evil cultivator Kong Hou had tied to the tree flew over and hung from the jade ship.
Huan Zhong did not jump onto the jade ship. He took out a feather from his storage ring. The feather immediately expanded when it flew into the air. He turned and said to Kong Hou, “Let’s go. We will not disturb the injured’s rest.”
Kong Hou saw Huan Zhong jump onto the feather and jumped on as well. She saw that Feng Qi and Ye Fei’s attention was completely on Hu Yian and they would not notice her. Her presence faded and she collapsed into a seated position on the feather. She had used up all her energy in the battle just now. If she hadn’t relied on her talismans to win, she would not be sitting here right now.
Yet she could not let Ye Fei and the others know this. She still wanted to maintain her imposing status of a benefactor in front of them. Fortunately, Huan Zhong took out another flying talisman. Otherwise, she would not have been able to hold on until they reached the inn.
“Give me your hand.” Huan Zhong saw her sit onto the feather. His expression did not change as he took out a gourd bottle and pulled out the cork.
Kong Hou reached out a hand in puzzlement. Was he going to slap her hand after seeing her average performance? They were friends. Huan Zhong wouldn’t do something like this?
Her thin and white hand trembled. Water carrying a faint fragrance poured onto her palm and covered the faint tang of blood. Kong Hou turned back to look with wide eyes at Huan Zhong who was crouching by her side.
“Do not look at me. Scrub your hands.” Seeing the young girl looking dazedly at him, Huan Zhong pointed at her hands. “Didn’t you want to wash your hands?”
Kong Hou refocused and washed her hands clean. She smelled the clean fragrance on her fingers and smiled. “Thank you, Huan Zhong.”
“As long as you do not blame me for having you go kill the enemy while I watched coldly from the side.” Huan Zhong put away the gourd and sat down like Kong Hou. This was his first time sitting on a flying talisman with his feet hanging out. His posture was slightly stiff, his back straight. He did not seem relaxed but more like he was sitting tensely.
“I know you did it for my own good.” When she sparred with others of her sect, the shixiong and shijie were all careful and did not bear to have her wounded. But the outside enemies were different. They would not have mercy or be careful. They only wanted to kill her.
She was used to sparring with her shixiong and *shijie. When she just started fighting against the goatee-wearing cultivator, Kong Hou appeared to not be on the losing side. That was due to the many seals and talismans her elders had given her. Yet in reality, she lacked a strategy in her fighting, and her mental state was not practiced enough.
“The first time I killed an evil cultivator, I was older than you. For a long time, I did not like to smell blood.” Huan Zhong sorted around his storage bag and took out a hollow thumb-sized copper ball filled with fragrance. He put it into Kong Hou’s hand and said with a serious expression, “This is normal. After you encounter evil cultivators a few times, it will seem normal.”
The fragrance rolled around in the hollow copper ball, giving off a pleasing sound. The calming fragrance caused Kong Hou to relax her entire body. She tied the little ball at her waist and said with a laugh, “Huan Zhong, you really are not good at comforting people.”
Huan Zhong took out a crystal lamp from his sleeve. The crystal sleeve gave off golden light. Under the illumination of the crystal lamp, the bone-eating beast corpses turned to dust in a blink. Other than the people present, no one would know that a battle had occurred here.
Putting away the crystal lamp, Huan Zhong turned to look at Kong Hou. “Are you feeling better now?”
Kong Hou looked at the beautiful crystal lamp in his hand and nodded.
“You like this?” Huan Zhong put the lamp in front of her.
Kong Hou knew this was a powerful talisman. She shook her head and said, “Don’t give it to me. I’ll just look at it a few more times because it is beautiful. This is just like how one cannot resist looking more at flowers, moons and the stars—it is a body’s natural reaction.”
Huan Zhong was silent for a moment. He shook his head. “I do not understand.”
“That’s all right. You only need to know I do not want this lamp.” Kong Hou looked at the empty surroundings. “Elder Lin Hu, at this time… should have gone to the inn with the people of Cool Breeze Sect?”
The wounded were at the inn, but the two of them were chatting and burning bone-eating beast corpses here. This seemed slightly inappropriate.
“Lin Hu is reliable.” Huan Zhong saw a pile of accumulated snow on Kong Hou’s head. His left hand closest to Kong Hou felt an impulse to brush away the snow. But he still remembered the separation of male and female. He put his left hand on his knee and gripped it with his right hand.
“Elder Lin Hu is a man, Path Friend Ye Fei is a woman—some things may be inconvenient.” Thinking that a beauty may be slighted, Kong Hou could not stil still.
“Then we will return.” Huan Zhong stood and the feather started to move. Kong Hou looked as the corner of his robes danced in the air. She brushed away the hair falling onto her face, propped her face with one hand and smiled.
She spread her other clean hand. Kong Hou looked down and poked the hollow fragrance ball with a smile on the corner of her lips.
She had made a very good friend.
When they returned to the inn, Ye Fei and the others had been settled already with more members of Cool Breeze Sect. These disheveled people saw Kong Hou and Huan Zhong enter the door and gratefully stated their thanks. Huan Zhong looked at the sparkling swords at their waists with a cold expression.
Kong Hou talked her throat dry to persuade these member of Cool Breeze Sect who swore to serve them to go help the wounded. Then she turned and saw Huan Zhong sitting and idly and drinking tea. She immediately understood the benefits of being stoic.
Detecting Kong Hou looking at him, Huan Zhong put down his cup. “You are tired today. Rest first. Lin Hu and I will be here.”
“All right.” Kong Hou was tired in both mind and body. After having the inn deliver hot water for a bath, she fell into a deep sleep. This night, smelling the fragrance ball, she slept well without even having a dream. When she woke up the next morning, the sky was already light. The sunlight came through the gaps in the window and left behind sparkles of light in the room.
She pushed open the window. The snow had stopped, and the icicles hanging from the eaves reflected light beautifully. She yawned. After washing and dressing, she opened the door and saw Huan Zhong standing in the hallway.
“Huan Zhong?” Kong Hou walked next to Huan Zhong and looked down at the disciples of Cool Breeze Sect eating breakfast in the hall. After washing and putting on clean clothing, they looked much more energetic than yesterday.
“How was your sleep last night?” Huan Zhong handed her a spirit fruit.
Kong Hou took it and then took a bite. After swallowing, she said, “I had a very good sleep without even a dream.”
“That is good.” Huan Zhong saw the fragrance ball still hanging at her waist. His lips moved slightly. He covered his mouth and coughed.
“Sir, Miss.” Ye Fei came out of her room and saw Kong Hou and Huan Zhong standing next to each other. She went forward and bowed. “Thank you, Sir, for giving us medicine.” Shixiong had woken up in the middle of night. While he could not get up, he was not in any danger. Elder Lin Hu said that Shixiong‘s spirit platform had not been damaged, so his cultivation would be unaffected.
“How is Path Friend Hu?” Kong Hou smiled at Ye Fei.
Her friendly attitude put Ye Fei at ease. “Shixiong is much better. It was fortunate that Path Friends helped, otherwise…”
“Did we not agree yesterday to not be so polite?” Kong Hou interrupted Ye Fei. “Meeting means we have karma. Path Friend Ye, if you keep on being so courteous, I will feel embarrassed.”
Ye Fei smiled embarrassedly and did not mention the topic again. However, she noted this favor in her mind.
Lin Hu walked out of the room and in front of Huan Zhong. “I obtained some information from those two evil cultivators.”
Huan Zhong indicated for him to continue.
“They need to bring gifts to the celebration of a demonic sage’s Transcendental ceremony, so they are gathering spirit energy from the spirit platforms of orthodox cultivators to make pills.” Lin Hu’s usually calm voice carried some solemnity. “Another Transcendental on the side of the evil cultivators.”
In these years, because the ten major sects had managed the cultivation world well, the evil cultivators only dared to instigate minor conflicts. The most powerful evil cultivator in the most recent century was still in Splendid Cloud Sect’s jail. He would not have an opportunity to escape in this lifetime.
But now the evil cultivators came to kill and take people’s hearts, destroying people’s spirit platforms and taking their spirit energy to make pills. Were the evil cultivators getting restless again?
In the years that the cultivation world was at peace, the ordinary people lived unworried lives. Now that the evil cultivators appeared and seemed to be making major moves, the ones to suffer first were not orthodox cultivators like them, but those ordinary citizens with no ability to fight the evil cultivators.
Right now, only a few evil cultivators were doing evil. Without any proof, the cultivators of other sects would not believe them.
“Inform the sect of the matter using flying message seals. Have them tell the ten major sects. Even if they do not believe it, they can take precautions.” Huan Zhong was obsessed with the sword path and almost never interacted with people from other sects. The sect was more appropriate to handle something like this.
Kong Hou listened to the conversation between Huan Zhong and Lin Hu. She realized the matter was not so simple. But she was not a local of Lingyou World. In the years she had been in Lingyou World, she had always stayed in Splendid Cloud Sect and knew little about the cultivation world. She did not know how severe the matter was, but she could tell what had happened to the sect. Regardless of the matter or the place, it was better to be prepared early.
“Huan Zhong, I will also send a message back to my sect,” Kong Hou said. “I’m returning to my room.”
Ye Fei was shocked. These two benefactors could easily use flying message seals and they could have their sects message the ten major sects. They would not have ordinary identities. But if the two did not say, she would not ask. This was basic respect towards benefactors.
The flying message seals quickly left. When they ate lunch, Kong Hou found the dishes on the table were much more refined, and each dish gave off spirit energy. When she asked, she learned the disciples of Cool Breeze Sect had made them.
Eating the relatively delicious food, Kong Hou suspected that these disciples really had decided to serve her and Huan Zhong their entire lives.
“Huan Zhong…” When Kong Hou lent a hand to help, she had not planned to have them pay her back. So she felt embarrassed by this.
“Let them.” Huan Zhong did not understand other people’s emotions too well, but he could easily understand Kong Hou’s present expression. He said in a low voice, “The others will be anxious at having their lives saved. If they do this, they will be in a better mood. So let them.”
Kong Hou stilled and quickly understood. At certain times, Huan Zhong was more perceptive than she was.
After they finished eating, Kong Hou saw Ye Fei walk over with a conflicted expression. “Miss, this one has a very important question to ask Miss. Please, Miss, forgive this one for the offense.”
Did the other want to ask her identity?
Kong Hou nodded. “Please speak.”
“Please, Miss what kind of precious stone was inlaid on the sword Miss used yesterday? Why was the sword so beautiful?”
Kong Hou, “Ah?!”
Translator Ramblings: Kong Hou finishes her first real battle. All grown up now.