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Chapter 136: Path Companion
Jin Yue looked back and saw Kong Hou who was standing with his apprentice. He did not have time to speak before Wang Su changed his mind. “Never mind.” The evil cultivator world was making petty maneuvers repeatedly, and he had to be careful.
Guessing that Wang Su did not plan on exposing the opportunity Kong Hou had gotten, Jin Yue was relieved. Having too much fame was not a good thing for the young girl.
The passing away of Spirit Master Hong Yan was a great loss to the entire cultivation world. The female cultivators who were usually dressed grandly took off their multicolored dresses to put on plain garments, and wore no jewelry.
Wang Su looked at these cultivators standing outside the hall with sorrowful expressions. His expression changed slightly.
Hong Yan’s body had been placed in the Brave Spirit Hall of Radiance Sect. This was the memorial hall for the ancestors of Radiance Sect. Hong Yan being able to sleep here showed Radiance Sect’s respect and sincerity.
The disciples of Moon Star Sect knelt outside the memorial hall. There were no tears or sobs, just a speechless silence.
Wang Su’s arrival did not cause their emotions to turn for the better. They changed direction and bowed to Wang Su.
“I have come… to take Sect Master Hong Yan home.” Wang Su walked into the memorial hall. He looked at Hong Yan who was inside a jade coffin and put a hand on the lid.
Kong Hou saw that Wang Su’s hand was trembling slightly even though his expression hadn’t changed and even his tone was emotionless. For some inexplicable reason, she felt an indescribable sorrow. She didn’t know if she was saddened by Moon Star Sect’s fate, or for Spirit Master Hong Yan’s entire life.
She turned to look at the nearby Quiet Peace Temple monks. These monks had their palms together as they silently recited the Rebirth Mantra. Their expressions were sincere and benevolent.
Spirit Master Yuan Chen had not worn his kasaya today. He stood at the front of the monks, his hands holding the buddhist beads. His eyes were like a vast ocean, calm but containing limitless emotions.
Kong Hou thought, maybe Spirit Master Yuan Chen was also sad inside.
The coffin lid slowly closed. Spirit Master Hong Yan finally received her peace. Wang Su lit up a stick of incense and bowed three times towards the coffin. “Eight transcendents carry the coffin.”
Four male and four female accomplished sect disciples bent to carry the jade coffin. They shouted in unison, “Sect Master, return to the sect!”
“Sect Master, return to your honored sect!”
The smoke of the incense spun above the hall, around the jade coffin, and then disappeared into the air. Hong Yan’s soul seemed to hear their call and returned to their side.
“One step, the Universe.”
The eight disciples took their first step.
“The second step, yinyang.”
A second step.
“Three for all beings.”
After ten steps, the jade coffin was carried out of the hall. Wang Su summoned a jade boat covered in white flowers that all looked lifelike. This did not look like a funeral ship but a flower ship.
The jade coffin slowly floated onto the ship. Wang Su looked back at everyone. “Thank you, Path Friends, for your company. Farewell.”
“We respectfully send Spirit Master Hong Yan back to her sect.” Kong Hou bowed deeply and Huan Zhong, who stood next to her, also bowed.
Wang Su glanced back at her. His expression changed, but he only returned a bow silently. He jumped onto the jade ship and stood next to the jade coffin.
“Celestial Kong Hou.” A young female cultivator walked in front of Kong Hou and bowed to her. “Celestial, please take care.”
Kong Hou recognized this girl. She had seen her that day touring Pei City with Huan Zhong. She had been sitting beside the window on the second floor. The other was beautiful with starry eyes and a fine brow. Kong Hou recognized her immediately. “Celestial, take great care as well.”
Seeing the other recognizing her, Lian Qiao gave a smile. “This one is Lian Qiao, a disciple of Moon Star Sect. After today’s separation, I do not know when I will meet Celestial again. Please take care.”
After coming to Radiance Sect, she had secretly observed this Celestial Kong Hou. Each time she saw the other laugh happily, she felt happier as well. Speaking of her own accord to Kong Hou in front of all these cultivators before her departure was the greatest overstep she had taken in her life, or the only overstep she would ever make.
“The trip is far. Celestial Lian Qiao, take care. Cultivation is long—we will have a chance to meet again.” Kong Hou saw this Moon Star Sect disciple flush slightly. She didn’t know why the other spoke to her but still sent her onto the flying ship with a smile.
“Farewell.” Lian Qiao bowed to Kong Hou. The flying ship entered the clouds. She looked down and her smile faded.
They would never meet again. Her fate was special. If she was travelling alone, she would become good material for evil cultivators to make talismans. Master had passed away, and she was not willing to be Spirit Master Zhong Xi’s sword attendant. Her only choice was to stay in the sect and become a guardian of the departed.
Lian Qiao dazed as she lightly caressed the jade coffin.
“You regret?” Wang Su looked at the young disciple that Shimei had brought back from the mortal world.
Lian Qiao slowly shook her head. “This is my best choice.”
Wang Su did not say more. He put his hands behind his back and looked at the sun behind the clouds. A long time later, he said, “After we return, Moon Star Sect will be closed for a century and not receive any guests.”
Moon Star Sect had done what they needed to. They had no ability for the rest.
Radiance Sect quieted down after sending off Spirit Master Hong Yan. The sects bid farewell and in the end, only Splendid Cloud Sect was left, still residing on Sword Cry Peak. In the eyes of outsiders, this was a sign that Splendid Cloud Sect and Radiance Sect were on good terms, so Radiance Sect wanted to keep them a while longer. In reality, because Kong Hou had advanced two stages, Elder Qiu Shuang worried her mental state was not stable. She had Kong Hou rest for a while before starting the journey back to Splendid Cloud Sect.
Huan Zhong, using the reason that he could perform universal paired cultivation with Kong Hou, went into seclusion with her.
As an elder who did not like to meddle, Qiu Shuang would close an eye to the love of the juniors. But she clearly underestimated Jin Yue’s enthusiasm. After two days, Jin Yue invited her over with the excuse of discussing tea.
Jin Yue was very polite when he saw Spirit Master Qiu Shuang. They discussed many things without touching the main topic. Qiu Shuang finally could not endure it and said bluntly, “When did you sword cultivators get this habit of being so indirect? Just tell me what you want to say; I can bear it.”
Seeing Qiu Shuang’s attitude, Jin Yue smiled helplessly. “Spirit Master Qiu Shuang, excuse me.”
Qiu Shuang raised her chin and motioned for him to continue.
“The evil lord is wounded and temporarily will not make trouble for the cultivation world. Celestial Kong Hou’s fate is extraordinary. While it can be disguised temporarily, this will not last forever. Spirit Master should make plans early. If the cultivation world’s chance to ascend is stolen, our entire world will…” He grimaced. “Spirit Master, do you have any solutions?”
“Sect Master Jin, you know that Splendid Cloud Sect always focuses on going with the flow.” Qiu Shuang shook her head after a moment of silence. “In the past, Moon Star Sect divined that the opportunity was on Zhong Xi. Why would the one with fate end up being my grand-disciple?”
“The heavenly path is impermanent and changes.” Jin Yue’s grimace grew. “All of us follow the flow of the heavenly path. Who can control their fate?” When Zhong Xi had been young, he had been frightened by his cultivation improvement. He took Zhong Xi to visit the two sect masters of Moon Star Sect. The sect masters divined for him and found that he was related to the heavenly path opportunity. He was the hope of the entire cultivation world.
Now that he thought about it, the Moon Star Sect’s reading maybe wasn’t wrong. Zhong Xi’s fate was related to the ascension opportunity, but the true opportunity was not on him. Because he could do universal paired cultivation with the person of the heavenly path, could meet her and find several valuable medicines with her help.
Now that the truth came out, he worried this would affect Zhong Xi’s mental state. He also worried that Kong Hou would feel pressure at her young age and have a mental demon.
“No matter how talented Kong Hou is in her cultivation, she is just in Mind Manifestation Stage.” Qiu Shuang put down the teacup and said calmly, “Tell me honestly. What problem ails Zhong Xi?”
While other people could not see, she had found long ago that Zhong Xi’s spirit energy channeling was not very smooth when he fought the evil lord. He just forced himself to endure.
“Zhong Xi…” If this was any other person sitting in front of him, Jin Yue would not dare say the truth. But in front of him was Qiu Shuang, the best forger in the cultivation world, one of the elders of Splendid Cloud Sect.
“Zhong Xi has a mental demon, his spirit platform is unstable and his cultivation has fallen greatly.” Jin Yue covered his eyes. “I am not a good master.”
“The master leads one to start, but the cultivation depends on oneself. Sect Master Jin, you have lived a millennium—, you still cannot understand?” Qiu Shuang looked down, her tone as distant as though she was just doing ordinary things like eating and dressing. “I see that Zhong Xi’s problem is not severe and you should not overly worry.”
“If not for Celestial Kong Hou, Zhong Xi would not have recovered so quickly.” Jin Yue did not find it embarrassing to admit. “Before he left the sect to travel, he was silent and stoic, and he couldn’t even use the sword because of his severe mental demon. If he touched the sword, his meridians would reverse and his spirit energy would go haywire.”
Qiu Shuang gradually discovered Jin Yue’s intentions. This was not a discussion about the fated person, but about the matter between the two juniors. She raised an eyebrow and looked ironically at Jin Yue. The little proper sword cultivator of the past learned how to speak in a roundabout way. Time really was a butcher’s knife.
Pretending he did not understand Spirit Master Qiu Shuang’s gaze, Jin Yue gritted his teeth and said shamelessly for his apprentice, “What does Spirit Master feel about the two young people becoming path companions?”
“Path companions?” Qiu Shuang said. “Sect Master Jin, do you know that no disciple in Splendid Cloud Sect within three generations has found a path companion? The last ancestor to find a path companion was a thousand years ago. In the end, the two of them had great conflicts due to their different tastes and separated after a battle.”
Jin Yue: “…”
Splendid Cloud Sect’s principle was to never yield on the matter of food. They were so casual in every other matter. He didn’t know what bad habit this was.
“There is no problem of taste. Our Zhong Xi is easy to raise—he eats everything.”
“Kong Hou is young; if she is together with Zhong Xi…”
“No matter, we can wait for her to grow older before having the path union ceremony, as long as we make it public.”
“While so, we watched her grow up and do not bear for her to live outside…”
“This is fine, the two can live wherever they want. The two of them are strong and will not need many days to travel between the two sects.”
Qiu Shuang knew that Jin Yue was determined, urgent and sincere. But she still warned him, “Even if the two juniors have no objections, I cannot decide on this matter. Sect Master Jin, Kong Hou is Wang Tong’s last student.”
She feared that Wang Tong would tear down Radiance Sect.
Translator Ramblings: What do long lived cultivators do best? Gossip and matchmake.
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