This chapter has been brought to you by me, and Adnana.
Chapter 56: Misfortune
The flying palace left the borders of Yan City and flew into the clouds, leaving the mountains, rivers, and clouds all underneath it. Kong Hou stood by the banister. Through the boundary, she looked at the white clouds under her feet, and the mountains and rivers flickering in and out of view between the clouds
When someone stood at a tall height, the mountains and rivers looked minuscule. This easily made people feel as though they had conquered the world. But the mountain was still that mountain, the river still that river—no one could conquer them. They were born in the world and would disappear in the world.
Kong Hou looked at the blue sky. That place was so vast. What was hidden behind the blue? The immortal world that cultivators dreamed about—was that another realm people had not encountered?
Some people said that cultivation was to go against destiny and to fight against the universe. Kong Hou’s viewpoint was the opposite. They did not cultivate by fighting with the universe; they followed the universal path, they made their bodies and minds one with the universe. They would be accepted by the universe and ascend into immortality. The spirit energy they drew into their body came as a gift from the universe. The materials they took to make talismans came from the universe. All they relied on was given by the universe. Where did fighting against the universe come from?
Huan Zhong walked to her side, his body giving off a faint yet pleasing medicinal fragrance. Kong Hou looked sideways at him. “Why are you not resting in your room?”
“I saw you standing here for a long time from the window.” Huan Zhong looked at the white clouds below. “You are worried about Auspicious Pavilion?”
Kong Hou shook her head and pointed at the blue sky above them. “I am looking at the sky.”
Huan Zhong looked up at the sky, his eyes reflecting the clear pure blue.
“Just now, I had a strange thought. Us cultivators are always used to flying and standing up high as though everything is in our control—” Kong Hou put her hand on the cool jade banister “—but we are just one of many living beings.”
Huan Zhong looked in shock at Kong Hou. He had not thought that she, at such a young age, had the thoughts of comprehending the path. In comprehending the path, the most important part was comprehension itself. No one could teach this, or were able to, as the path was in the mind. Apart from oneself, no one could easily affect the path in other people’s minds.
Some cultivators were unable to comprehend their path even until they passed away. So people frequently said that if they could comprehend, even their death would be worth it. Kong Hou’s talent and mental state for cultivation was both a joyful surprise and worrisome.
“Kong Hou, I am a sword cultivator. To me, the most important is the sword. With the sword, I can exterminate all evils and demons, and stand on top of the world.” Huan Zhong put his hands behind his back and looked down on the ground with a calm expression. “I am the sword, the sword is me; where my mind thinks, my sword points—this is my sword path.”
A light seemed to flash through Kong Hou’s mind but then this feeling immediately faded. She looked with slight bewilderment at Huan Zhong. She felt as though there was a path in front of her, but she still hadn’t found the key to opening the door.
“Do not rush some things. When the opportunity comes, all questions will be resolved.” Huan Zhong took out a beautiful storage ring. “There is something I have not given you yet.”
“Storage ring?” Kong Hou took the ring. This was an ownerless storage ring. She looked with puzzlement at Huan Zhong. “Why give this to me?”
“A few days ago, my master heard you and I were travelling together so he prepared a gift for you. Inside are some items that women frequently use. Take a look—do you like any of them?” Huan Zhong had been searching for a chance to give what the Sky Sect’s shopkeeper had given him to Kong Hou, but he hadn’t found an excuse until now. Seeing Kong Hou was unhappy at not comprehending the path, he stopped thinking of excuses and took out these things that women would like in order to make her happy.
Kong Hou swept the storage ring with her mind. Inside were hairpins, dresses, embroidered shoes, spirit stones, and even the capes, handkerchiefs, staffs, flying swords and other items that were in fashion. She looked at Huan Zhong, and then looked at the storage ring. The sword cultivators who according to rumour were strong, cold and stoic, were so attentive?
Really… one could not judge a sword cultivator on their appearance.
Seeing Kong Hou remain quiet, Huan Zhong thought she did not like these items. “If you do not like them, I will buy others for you when we arrive at Auspicious Pavilion.”
“Very beautiful, I like them.” Kong Hou shook her head and put the ring back in Huan Zhong’s hand. “There are too many spirit stones inside. I accept Shibo‘s good wishes, but I cannot accept this storage ring. It is too valuable—I am embarrassed to accept it.”
“Master rarely gives things to young girls. If you do not accept it, he will only think you do not like these items.” Huan Zhong gave the storage ring back to Kong Hou. “Also, you prepared gifts for them, too. How can you be embarrassed?”
When had she sent gifts, when? Kong Hou looked down with puzzlement at the storage ring that Huan Zhong had forced back onto her. Did he mean the three merpeople scales? But the sect had given those—what did it have to do with her?
“Sect Master, the flying sword messenger has come again.”
“Again?” After several experiences in accepting gifts, Jin Yue felt he was now calm when hearing a disciple say the flying sword messenger had come again. It seemed that people had a great ability to adjust. “Invite them in.”
The flying sword messenger was very busy. Even if the signatory was the sect master of the strongest sect in the cultivation world, he did not have much time to talk. When Jin Yue pushed a mental thought into the jade scroll receipt, the flying sword messenger hurriedly flew away.
Time was money. The slogan of the flying sword messengers was speed, safety and trust. The time of the customers was their life.
“Sect Master, Shizhi sent things back again?” Peak master Song He walked in the door and saw the storage bag in Jin Yue’s hand. A smile appeared on his stern face. “This time, it is packaged in a one-use storage bag; it seems the things inside are novel.”
Compared to the previous times when the packages were sent in large cloth bags which scattered on the ground once the flying sword messenger took them out of the storage ring, this time, much more care seemed to be taken.
Jin Yue looked at Song He. Song He walked to the meditation mat and sat down cross-legged. He waited for Jin Yue to open the storage bag and had no intention of leaving. Seeing him unwilling to leave, Jin Yue did not try to drive him out. He opened the storage bag and upended it. A mountain of salted dried fish covered the ground.
Song He, who was attacked by the odor of the salted fish: “…”
Shizhi did not like to talk, but he was a person who had meticulous taste. Why would he send a bunch of smelly salted fish back to the sect? In front of Jin Yue, he could not leave, nor could he cover his nose. He secretly channeled his spirit energy and sealed off his sense of smell.
Pretending not to see Song He’s actions, Jin Yue picked up a piece of salted fish. He examined it carefully several times. “This is dried fish made out of Winged Fish.”
“Winged Fish?” Song He picked up a fish and looked it over with surprise on his face. “That kind of fish should be cooked fresh for its best state. Who would ruin a treasure so and make it into dried fish?” Winged Fish could swim in water and fly in the sky. Their consumption would lead to immunity to poison and refinement of the body. One fish could be sold for almost a thousand spirit stones. People who caught this kind of fish either cooked and ate it in joy, or kept it alive and well to sell for a high price. He had lived almost a thousand years but this was the first time he saw Winged Fish made into dried salted fish.
He felt… very complicated.
This pile of dried fish had around two hundred or so fish. Where did Shizhi find them?
“What is this?” Song He saw a golden light within the pile of dried fish. Ignoring the noxious odor of the salted fish, he pushed them aside to find the golden item. This was a small dried fish which glittered all over as though it was made out of gold. Even though half of the scales on the fish were lost, its golden color was still blinding.
“This is…” Jin Yue stood up and took the fish from Song He. “This is… dragon fish?”
The dragon gates were three in number. When fish jumped over the three dragon gates, they would transform from fish to dragon. But if they did not pass one of the dragon gates, even if they could not become a dragon, they would have dragon energy and become dragon fish, half dragon, half fish. This kind of fish would have the presence of a dragon. While they were not as valuable as a dragon, they were rare. Most of the fish who did not pass a dragon gate would have been struck dead by the ordeal lightning. The dragon fish which managed to survive and were then caught by humans were pitifully rare.
“Sect Master… a dragon fish is worth a spirit vein. Shizhi is too filial to you.” Song He thought of his two apprentices. They had followed him for five-six centuries. Why were they not as considerate as Shizhi?
“He is young and not sensible. He sees rare things and buys them recklessly with the sparse wealth he has.” Jin Yue put the dragon fish into a box and put it away. “I will keep this for me. Distribute the winged fish among the peaks. This will be a token of his goodwill.”
“Sect Master, that dragon fish…”
“The dragon fish is too small, not enough to share. “Jin Yue threw the box into his storage ring and spoke with a stiff expression. “The pile of salted fish cannot just stay here on the ground. Call some disciples to distribute them soon.”
Song He: “…”
He was so frugal. Who didn’t have apprentices? He did too, and two of them!
Huan Zhong did not know that the pile of dried salted fish Kong Hou had helped mail back to the sect for him was extremely valuable. He kept Kong Hou company on the banister of the flying palace as they watched the clouds change shape, twisting, spreading, and dissipating in the wind.
The Auspicious Pavilion disciples sitting in a room in the flying palace peeked at the pair. They felt the man was ethereal and the woman was beautiful and lively. They had no similarities in personality, but when sitting together, they were surprisingly well-matched.
“Shijie, we are about to enter the border of Feng Province soon. It seems that we have resolved our inauspicious reading this time.” Hong Ling looked outside. Seeing the flying palace about to enter Feng Province, she felt much more reassured.
Once they flew past these woods, the lands would be under Feng Province’s jurisdiction. Even if an evil cultivator really came out, they would have to be careful.
“I told you not to speak rashly when the matter has not yet been settled.” Ge Jin was about to lecture Hong Ling when they saw that, outside, Spirit Master Huan Zhong suddenly stood. For some reason, she had a bad feeling.
“Huan Zhong?” Kong Hou saw Huan Zhong’s expression darken. She pulled out the Water Frost Sword. “Is someone coming close?”
“You have such vigilance. It seems that it is not an accident my apprentice died in your hands.” An old voice came from within the clouds but no figure could be seen.
“No need to sneak around—come out.” Silver light flashed in Huan Zhong’s hand and a dragon roar sounded. His lifebond sword appeared in his hand. He looked at Kong Hou behind him and did not take down the boundary around the flying palace.
“It is good for young people to have ability, but if you are too arrogant in tone, you would appear to not respect your elders.” An old person dressed in white with white hair and a young appearance appeared. If his words were not a provocation, Kong Hou would think that he was a powerful elder from a sect.
“Sword cultivator?” The old man sat on a dark purple gourd. He shook his pipe. “A few days ago, my apprentice visited your courtyard and did not return. This old one worries greatly for my apprentice and hopes Path Friends can give me an explanation.”
This old person was an evil cultivator?!
Kong Hou thought of the evil cultivator who had tried to trap her in Yan City. That evil cultivator had Mind Manifestation cultivation. How great would the cultivation of his master be?
“Your apprentice invaded a private residence and aimed to harm others’ lives. He naturally has been exterminated already,” Huan Zhong said coldly. “I will not turn a blind eye. It is best if you leave quickly.”
“Such an arrogant tone!” The old evil cultivator sneered. “One has to pay for killing others. Today, I will use your heads to sacrifice to my apprentice.”
The old evil cultivator stopped concealing his presence. The enormous spiritual pressure almost cracked the boundary outside the flying palace, but only almost.
Kong Hou looked at the wavering boundary and said worriedly, “Huan Zhong, who is this?”
“If I am correct, he is one of the White and Black Evil Sages, Old Man Wu Ku.” Huan Zhong looked at the other’s ethereal appearance. “This person is vicious and cruel, bloodthirsty, and has Mind Dividing cultivation.”
Translator Ramblings: Huan Zhong’s elders are probably wondering if they didn’t raise him properly to appreciate good things.