unsheathed – Chapter 93 (2): There's a Character on the Wall

Chapter 93 (2): There's a Character on the Wall

Chapter 93 (2): There's a Character on the Wall

As he grew older, he began to forget some of the exact details, but he never forgot the negative impressions he had of certain people. Of course, Gu Can never forgot the man who had kicked him before stomping on his head that day. He knew the man's name, which street he lived on, and his family composition. Whenever Gu Can was alone with Chen Ping'an, he would always rant about how he was going to dig up that man's ancestral grave.

He would also tell Chen Ping'an that the man had a daughter, and that when she grew up, he was going to make her sleep with him and abuse her to his heart's content.

At that age, Gu Can had no idea what sleeping with someone meant. All he knew was that this was something that many of the adults in the town liked to joke about, particularly in cases where men referred to his mother in a derogatory fashion.

Chen Ping'an could still clearly recall the look on Gu Can's tender little face at the time. He wasn't even five years old at that point, yet his eyes had filled with a vicious and resentful gleam.

The recollection of that memory made Chen Ping'an feel a little concerned. Of course, he wanted Gu Can to enjoy a better life than everyone else in the outside world, but at the same time, he didn't want to see Gu Can become a heartless immortal like Cai Jinjian or Fu Nanhua.

Li Baoping could tell that Chen Ping'an was rather distracted, and she asked, "What's wrong, Junior Uncle?"

In the past, Chen Ping'an would've brushed off her concerns by telling her that nothing was wrong, but this time, he decided to open up and tell her what she was really thinking. "I'm just worried that the next time I see Gu Can, I won't be able to recognize him anymore."

A perplexed look appeared on Li Baoping's face as she said, "Kids grow up really fast. If you don't meet him again until a few years have passed, then it would only be natural that you won't be able to recognize each other."

A faint smile appeared on Chen Ping'an's face, and he mused in a form of self-encouragement, "I have faith that Gu Can will always be that same snot-nosed brat from Clay Vase Alley."

As for whether Gu Can recognized him or not, that didn't matter. As long as Gu Can could live a good life, Chen Ping'an would be happy.

There was a sheer cliff at one point in the riverbed of the Iron Talisman River, and the flow of the water there was significantly accelerated.

Chen Ping'an was standing on the cliff on the riverbank, practicing his walking meditation, while A'Liang was standing on the edge of the cliff.

Water was splashing in all directions, and the sound of flowing water was ringing out incessantly, while water vapor permeated through the air. Thankfully, it was already spring, so the biting chill of winter had already receded.

A'Liang declared in a loud voice, "The fist techniques that you're practicing are way too basic! The walking meditation that you're practicing is extremely rudimentary, and it can be found in pretty much any mortal sect. In comparison, I suppose your standing meditation is a bit more passable. At the very least, it can just barely help you survive. It's like a medicine used to save one's life, it's not particularly precious or luxurious, but it gets the job done."

Chen Ping'an merely smiled and offered no response, choosing to remain silent as Old Man Yang once told him that expelling one's qi was extremely counterproductive when practicing fist techniques.

A'Liang nodded to himself as he continued, "Having said that, even the most basic of things can take on an interesting complexion when done by the right person. There aren't any major problems in the way that you're practicing your fist techniques. The pursuit of martial arts has always been a slow and steady process, much like water dripping through stone, so it's bound to take time."

After completing his practice, Chen Ping'an wiped the sweat from his forehead, then asked, "A'Liang, you're not that Wei Jin from the Divine Platform, are you?"

"Of course not," A'Liang replied with a smile. "He's a master at reciting poetry, but he's a terrible drunk. Whenever he has too much to drink, he starts crying with snot flowing out of his nose. He makes even more of a fool out of himself than Li Huai! How could I possibly be that type of person?"

Chen Ping'an was rather taken aback by this answer, seemingly not expecting A'Liang to be so forthright with his admission. "Then what about this donkey and that gourd?"

A'Liang rolled his eyes as he replied, "Both of them belong to Wei Jin, of course. I'm not as pedantic as he is. I'll admit that I do enjoy drinking wine, but I can't bring myself to go sightseeing on donkey-back. This thing's so slow that I would die of frustration!"

"He's not dead, is he?" Chen Ping'an asked in a cautious manner.

An amused grin appeared on A'Liang's face as he asked, "Why would I kill him? To take his treasures?"

Chen Ping'an looked back at A'Liang, then shook his head in response. "I'm sure you didn't kill him."

A'Liang took a sip of wine out of the sword nurturing gourd, then explained, "He gave this sword nurturing gourd to me as a gift. I taught him an advanced sword technique, and that provided him with the spark of inspiration required for him to break through a bottleneck that he had been struggling with for a long time, so he went into seclusion, and this gourd was given to me as compensation.

You might think that I got the better end of that trade, but on the contrary, he was the one who got the much better end of the stick. All I'm doing is looking after this donkey for him."

It was extremely difficult for the Militarian swordsmen of Wind Snow Temple to go beyond the 10th tier, but A'Liang didn't want to explain all of this in detail to Chen Ping'an.

He had to walk his path one step at a time, and A'Liang didn't want him to look too far ahead.

A perplexed look appeared on Chen Ping'an's face as he asked, "Why didn't Master Ruan recognize you?"

A'Liang found a place to sit, then shook the little silver gourd in his hand as he explained, "The bonded sword qi is still present in its entirety within the gourd, which means that the owner of the gourd is still alive, and their souls and senses are all intact.

Eastern Treasured Vial Continent is a small place, and Ruan Qiong is convinced that there isn't anyone on this continent so formidable that they're capable of not only instantly slaying Wei Jin, but also doing it so quickly that he wouldn't even have had time to contact his bonded flying sword."

"Eastern Treasured Vial Continent is a small place?" Chen Ping'an exclaimed with a surprised expression. "I've heard that there are countless empires on Eastern Treasured Vial Continent, and even now, we still haven't made it to the border of the Great Li Empire yet."

A'Liang turned and tossed his gourd to Chen Ping'an as he said, "That's because you're walking to the border. Have some wine. If a man doesn't learn to drink before they die, then their life will have been a complete waste."

"No. Zhu He told me that martial artists can't drink."

Chen Ping'an carefully caught the gourd, then sat down beside A'Liang and handed the gourd back to him. However, A'Liang didn't accept the gourd, so Chen Ping'an could only carefully cradle it in his arms, watching the flowing water in the river as he mused, "I've seen immortals flying through the sky above our town on swords, and that's definitely a lot faster than walking."

Chen Ping'an was always comparing A'Liang to Zhu He, and as a result, A'Liang was beginning to resent hearing Zhu He's name.

Chen Ping'an smiled as he asked, "A'Liang, are you really strong enough to teach sword techniques to Wei Jin? Doesn't that mean you're even stronger than Zhu He?"

There he goes again!

A'Liang heaved a faint sigh in response. "You should be glad that I'm a nice person. Otherwise, you wouldn't get away with asking such a dumb question!"

Chen Ping'an was truly very curious about this, and he insisted on prying further into the subject as he asked, "Does that mean you're a lot stronger than him?"

A'Liang grabbed the gourd out of Chen Ping'an's hands, then threw his head back and took a long swig of wine out of it before shooing Chen Ping'an away with a disdainful look on his head.

Chen Ping'an burst into laughter at the sight of the gloomy look on A'Liang's face, and after a brief silence, he chuckled, "To tell you the truth, I know that you're a lot stronger than Zhu He."

A'Liang was finally feeling a little better upon hearing this.

Chen Ping'an then immediately added in an earnest voice, "I feel like even two Zhu Hes may not be able to beat you."

"If you really want to flatter me, then can't you display some sincerity? At least say that two Zhu Hes definitely won't be a match for me!" A'Liang scoffed in an exasperated manner.

Chen Ping'an offered no response as a faint smile appeared on his face, and as he looked out at the formidable waterfall, he suddenly said, "Thank you, A'Liang."

A'Liang continued drinking out of the gourd as he casually asked, "What are you thanking me for? I haven't taught you any fist techniques or sword techniques."

Chen Ping'an sat with his legs crossed, then habitually joined his palms in front of his chest to practice his meditation. "After meeting you, I feel like the outside world is no longer as scary as I thought it to be. I discovered that there are still good people even outside of the town, and that the world isn't just filled with people who pick on others as they please just because they're more powerful than them.

Li Huai and Zhu Lu have been mocking you this entire trip, but you've never lost your temper at them."

A'Liang smiled as took a sip of wine, this one a little slower than the others, and he said, "That piece of glowing praise from you has caught me completely off guard, let me take a sip of wine to settle my nerves. So you're telling me that even you have things that you're scared of? nw stries at n/vel/b/i/n(.)co

I thought someone like you, who dares to kill immortals, face Mountain-moving Apes in direct battle, and set off with Baoping on a journey to Great Sui Nation on a whim, would be completely fearless."

Chen Ping'an replied in a quiet voice, "I did some things because they had to be done, not because I wasn't afraid. I'm just a former apprentice at a dragon kiln, how brave could I possibly be?"

"That does make sense," A'Liang replied with a nod.

The two of them fell silent, and the sound of the flowing water was the only thing that could be heard.

A'Liang broke the silence first by raising a question. "If you did something that earned you a huge reputation in a very renowned place, and you're granted the opportunity to carve down a character that will be seen by countless people over countless generations, which character would you choose?"

Chen Ping'an considered the question for a moment, then replied, "Probably my surname. Both of my parents had the Chen surname, so it would be great if I could carve down a Chen character."

"What a boring answer," A'Liang sighed with a shake of his head. "You're not like me at all. Then again, that's only to be expected. After all, brilliant men like myself are as rare as phoenix feathers and qilin scales. It's a lonely life, prowling the mountains as a lone tiger among packs of sheep."

It seemed that A'Liang was touched by his own analogy, and he hurriedly took a large swig of wine to drown out his emotions.

All of a sudden, a wide grin appeared on Chen Ping'an's face, and it seemed as if he had thought of something that was making him extremely happy.

This was a very rare occurrence, so A'Liang asked, "What are you thinking about? You're grinning like an idiot!"

Chen Ping'an blushed slightly with embarrassment as he replied, "If I can carve down multiple characters as opposed to just one, then I would write down the name of the girl I like."

A'Liang grinned as he mused, "Then you better start praying to the gods that the name of your future wife will only consist of two characters. If it's three characters or even four characters instead, then you'll have your hands full."

Chen Ping'an faltered slightly upon hearing this. "There are people with four-character names? Isn't that really strange?" [1]

A'Liang patted Chen Ping'an on the shoulder and advised, "You should read more books in the future, Chen Ping'an."

Chen Ping'an was slightly embarrassed to hear this.

All of a sudden, a startling realization dawned on A'Liang, and he exclaimed, "Hold on, you have a girl that you like?! Who is it? Tell me so I can have a good laugh!"

"I don't have one yet," Chen Ping'an replied with a bashful smile.

"I always knew you were a sneaky little rascal!" A'Liang chuckled.

"A'Liang, you're still single now, right?" Chen Ping'an asked in a quiet voice.

"Shut up!" A'Liang snapped.

"I knew from the very beginning that you were still single!" Chen Ping'an proclaimed, using A'Liang's words against him.

A'Liang pointed at himself as he proclaimed, "There are countless beautiful heroines and celestial maidens elsewhere desperate to become my wife! Do you even know how popular I am with the ladies?"

"Of course I don't," Chen Ping'an replied with a serious expression.

A'Liang was completely deflated by this stoic response, and he fell silent as he continued to drink out of his gourd.

"By the way, what character did you carve down, A'Liang? Can you tell me?" Chen Ping'an asked.

A'Liang was immediately reinvigorated by this question, and a smug look appeared on his face as he replied, "Now that's a story for the ages! The character I carved down is unmatched in its form and beauty, and most importantly, it's extremely meaningful and is the very epitome of brilliance! It's way more spectacular than a boring surname or whatever.

In order to prevent me from carving down that character, a bunch of old farts were about to turn on me for fear of my character completely outshining theirs! A few of those old farts were quite advanced in seniority, and they were absolutely fuming!

They were so mad that they almost rolled up their sleeves to fight me! I didn't even bother to spare them a glance. Those shameless bastards were going to gang up on me, and I'm no idiot, so obviously, I ran away. Of course, I only ran away after carving down my character."

Chen Ping'an was beginning to regret asking this question.

All the while, A'Liang was staring at him with an expectant expression that said: "Go on! Hurry up and ask me what my character was!"

Chen Ping'an turned to look back at the flowing river, stoically refusing to ask any further questions, leaving A'Liang completely rooted to the spot.

After realizing that Chen Ping'an wasn't going to ask him what his character was, he gently replaced the stopper on his gourd, clearly no longer in the mood to be drinking.

Right at this moment, Chen Ping'an's eyes abruptly widened, and he noticed a group of four of five people treading over the surface of the Iron Talisman River in the upstream direction.

Among them was an elderly man with a head of white hair, singing about a sage and a mountain, a seductive woman dressed in vibrant clothing with a captivating smile on her face, and a child dressed in a Daoist robe while holding a bamboo cane, looking mature beyond his years.

"Are those immortals?" Chen Ping'an murmured as his eyes widened in alarm.

In contrast, A'Liang didn't even bother to take a glance at them.

Zhu He was holding a string of red bells, which were jangling urgently as he rushed toward Chen Ping'an and A'Liang. There was a grim look on his face as he said, "These are the Demon Chiming Bells given to me by our patriarch, and they'll begin to chime if any demons or malicious spirits enter within a 1,000-feet radius of the bells. Senior A'Liang, Chen Ping'an, I suggest we proceed with caution and leave this place in order to avoid unnecessary conflict."

Chen Ping'an considered this piece of advice for a moment, then decided that it was indeed best to leave.

However, A'Liang wasn't even looking at the group of people treading over the river. Instead, he pulled out the stopper of his gourd, then waved it at Chen Ping'an and Zhu He as he smiled and said, "I'll leave after I've had a sip of wine. Don't worry, I'll be quick."

An urgent look appeared on Zhu He's face as he said, "Senior A'Liang, our Great Li Empire has always been very lax when it comes to keeping mountain spirits and demons in line. Generally speaking, the imperial court won't intervene unless a loss of human lives is involved..."

A'Liang gave a half-hearted response, then hurriedly rose to his feet to depart with Chen Ping'an and Zhu He so they could avoid these uninvited guests.

However, it soon became apparent that they didn't have to go anywhere. The first one out of the group of water-treading individuals to react was the old man, indicating that possessed the most advanced cultivation base out of everyone in the group. He was instantly rooted to the spot as if he had been struck by a bolt of lightning, and the other four figures in the group quickly followed suit.

Immediately thereafter, the old man fled for his life in a blind panic, completely abandoning his facade as an unfathomable immortal, and he was in such a hurry to get away that it looked as if he would be willing to get down on all fours and gallop away like an animal if doing so could allow him to go faster. Once again, the other four figures quickly followed suit.

A'Liang immediately put on a confused expression that was very clearly fake, and there was also a sly smirk playing on his lips.

Zhu He gulped nervously, and at this point, the string of bells that he was holding had already fallen completely silent.

"Senior A'Liang, was that your doing?" he asked in a cautious manner.

A'Liang fastened the silver gourd to his waist, then rubbed his own chin as he mused, "Could it be that my killing intent was too pronounced?"

"Maybe those people recognized your sword nurturing gourd?" Chen Ping'an speculated in a quiet voice.

A'Liang burst into laughter upon hearing this, then slung an arm across Chen Ping'an's shoulders as they made their way down from the cliff together. "That's definitely a possibility. This sword nurturing gourd harbors many secrets, secrets that I don't even care to tell the average person about."

All of a sudden, A'Liang removed his arm from across Chen Ping'an's shoulders and told him to go on ahead.

As Chen Ping'an jogged away, A'Liang slung his arm across Zhu He's shoulders instead, then asked, "Zhu He, you're a fifth tier martial artist, right? How did you manage to convince Chen Ping'an that you're a master martial artist? Can you teach me? I've been going out of my way to make myself appear like an unfathomable master, but he still has no idea about how powerful I am!"

Zhu He's entire body instantly stiffened, and he replied in an uneasy manner, "I don't know what you're talking about, Senior A'Liang."

A'Liang was rather displeased by this response. "Don't be so stingy!"

"But I really don't know, Senior A'Liang," Zhu He insisted with a sullen expression.

Up ahead, Chen Ping'an suddenly turned around to face A'Liang, then yelled from afar, "A'Liang, what was your character?"

An animated look instantly appeared on A'Liang's face, and he cleared his throat, then adjusted his conical bamboo hat as he raised a thumb to the heavens and declared, "Badass!"

Chen Ping'an was instantly rooted to the spot, just like those five water-treading figures had been earlier. He then turned around in silence and rushed away while murmuring to himself, "That's so lame!"

1. Generally speaking, Chinese names consist of one character for the surname and one to two characters for the name, amounting to a two or three-character name. However, there are certain special surnames that consist of two characters, such as Sima, Zhuge, etc. so if someone has a two-character surname and a two-character name, then that'll amount to four characters, but people with two-character surnames are quite rare, and Chen Ping'an is clearly oblivious here.

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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