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unsheathed – Chapter 80: Leaving the Mountains

Chapter 80: Leaving the Mountains

Chapter 80: Leaving the Mountains

After emerging from the mountains, Chen Ping'an made a trip to the blacksmith shop. As he passed over the stone bridge, he brought his palms together and crossed the bridge as quickly as he could with an extremely solemn and earnest expression as he murmured, "Esteemed immortals or whatever you may be, if you have something to say, then please be civilized and don't resort to violence.

If you want me to do something for you, please tell me through a dream at night instead of coming to me in a dream during the day. I don't think my heart can handle much more!"

Thankfully, Chen Ping'an was able to make it to the other side of the bridge without any incident, and he was ecstatic as he skipped away to find Master Ruan and Ruan Xiu.

Just like last time, Ruan Qiong was waiting for Chen Ping'an while seated on one of the bamboo chairs, while Chen Ping'an was seated on the other chair, and Ruan Xiu was standing behind her father with an undisguised look of elation on her face.

After taking a seat, the dirty and disheveled Chen Ping'an carefully set his basket down in front of him, then carefully rummaged through the basketful of medicinal herbs before pulling out a cloth pouch containing the pair of maps that had been given to him.

As he handed the maps back to Ruan Qiong, a guilty look appeared on his face, and he said, "While climbing up Lamp Bearer Mountain, I was stopped in my tracks by a waterfall. I hid the basket in a pit near the waterfall, and I even constructed a frame out of branches to protect the basket from the rain, but not long after I climbed to the top of the waterfall, heavy rain began to fall.

By the time I rushed back down to the pit, the frame I constructed had already been crushed by the rain and the wind, and the basket and the cloth pouch were soaked. Thankfully, I wrapped the maps quite tightly in parchment paper beforehand. After the sun came out, I pulled them out to take a look, and only the corners were wet, but even after they were dried, it's still quite clearly noticeable."

Ruan Qiong opened the cloth pouch and removed the parchment paper to find that the pair of maps were still virtually in the same condition as before. Besides, these were just two copies that he didn't have to return to the kiln supervision office or the Dragon Spring County office.

However, Ruan Qiong wasn't about to console Chen Ping'an by revealing this to him. Instead, he took a glance at the uneasy Chen Ping'an, then grumbled, "You're telling me you were climbing up and down Lamp Bearer Mountain while there was a heavy storm? Do you have a death wish?"

Chen Ping'an remained silent as a bashful smile appeared on his face.

Ruan Qiong waved a dismissive hand, indicating for Chen Ping'an to sit back down and stop blocking his view.

Chen Ping'an did as he was told, sitting back down onto the bamboo chair. As he returned the pair of maps to Master Ruan, he felt as if a heavy load had been removed from his shoulders. If he hadn't taken such exceptional care of the maps during this trip, he could've conserved three or four days at the very least.

Furthermore, he had always been a sentimental child, and having relied on the pair of maps for navigation for so long, he had grown quite attached to them and was rather reluctant to part with them. Whenever he climbed to the peak of a mountain during good weather, he would always pick out a place with the best view, then lay out the two maps in front of him, alternating between inspecting the maps and looking out at the scenery up ahead.

This past month or so had been the most enriched and substantial days that Chen Ping'an had ever spent.

All of a sudden, Ruan Qiong tossed the pair of maps back to Chen Ping'an as he said, "These chairs are quite comfortable. Make a couple more for me later, I'll give you these two maps as compensation."

Ruan Qiong was still not very fond of Chen Ping'an, but that was no reason for him to completely condemn the boy.

Ruan Qiong could imagine the scene of the anxious young boy climbing down the waterfall during the heavy storm to ensure that the maps were safe and unspoiled.

Of course, in Ruan Qiong's eyes, such actions weren't heroic in the slightest. On the contrary, he felt them to be quite foolish and unnecessary.

Compared with the rigid and impoverished Chen Ping'an, Ruan Qiong had a much greater appreciation for Song Jixin, who had his sights set on lofty aspirations despite his young age, or Liu Xianyang, who was always cheerful and never bothered by anything, or even Ma Kuxuan, who possessed arrogance and prodigious talent in equal measure.

In fact, even Zhao Yao, who had accompanied Qi Jingchun as his scholarly servant from a young age, wasn't as rigid and inflexible as Chen Ping'an.

The reason why he had made up a reason to give these maps to Chen Ping'an was actually a gesture designed to establish a clear boundary. He was willing to accept Chen Ping'an as an apprentice at his blacksmith shop, but there was no way he was going to make Chen Ping'an the first disciple of his new sect.

He was going to follow through on his promise and protect the mountains purchased by Chen Ping'an, but he wasn't going to allow Chen Ping'an to have any relations with his daughter.

This wasn't because Ruan Qiong was looking down on Chen Ping'an. Instead, it was simply because they weren't destined to walk the same path.

Ruan Qiong had decided that his disciples had to be people that he could get along with. They had to simultaneously be his disciples and also his friends, people that he could work together with to ensure the prosperity of his sect for centuries and millennia to come, and Chen Ping'an clearly didn't fit the bill.

Chen Ping'an was naturally unaware of the complex thought process that Master Ruan had gone through to get to this point. He merely caught the maps and clutched them to his own chest as he asked, "Is the kiln supervision official not going to ask for these maps?"

A cold sneer appeared on Ruan Qiong's face as he replied, "Don't worry about him. At the very least, for the next 60 years, I'm going to be the ruler of this Dragon Spring County, so my word stands above all else."

"Can you be any more boastful?" Ruan Xiu murmured in a displeased voice.

Ruan Qiong paid no heed to her complaints as he put on a serious expression and continued, "Let's get back on track. Which five mountains have you decided on?"

Chen Ping'an unconsciously sat up straighter upon hearing this, and he replied, "I chose three mountains near Divine Elegance Mountain, namely Treasured Scripture Mountain, Rainbow Cloud Mountain, and Immortal Herb Mountain."

Ruan Qiong nodded in approval. "Those are decent choices. Treasured Scripture Mountain is one of the biggest of the 61 mountains, and its size isn't just for show, either. If I didn't have to consider mountain protection formation for my future sect, I would've chosen Treasured Scripture Mountain over Gallant Spear Mountain.

Out of all of the mountains, aside from ones that are home to mountain gods or secret treasures, the mountains that take up the largest area and possess the greatest abundance of spiritual energy will undoubtedly be the best ones. Immortal Herb Mountain is the only mountain that has any hope of giving rise to natural spirits.

The only unfortunate thing about it is that's too small, so even if a natural spirit does appear there, its roots and condition most likely won't be ideal, and the reason for that is very simple. As an analogy, how is a small pond supposed to give rise to a powerful flood dragon? As for Rainbow Cloud Mountain, it's a rather ordinary mountain.

It's quite tall and scenic, but it doesn't really provide much benefit when it comes to cultivation. The only way you can make it a good mountain that's worth the price would be if you could get some Cloud Root Stones from Dawn Cloud Mountain and place them on the key points of the mountain. By the way, did you go to see the lake on Yellow Lake Mountain?"

Chen Ping'an faltered slightly upon hearing Ruan Qiong's question, and he replied, "I did."

"Alright, continue. What are the other two mountains that you chose?"

Ruan Qiong didn't elaborate any further on the previous topic. He had already done Chen Ping'an a favor by mentioning Yellow Lake Mountain, and he wasn't going to reveal any further secrets.

The reason he had mentioned Yellow Lake Mountain was because the lake on that mountain was similar in nature to Immortal Herb Mountain. The difference was that while there was potential for natural spirits to arise on Immortal Herb Mountain, there was a huge python residing on Yellow Lake Mountain that would've been destined for great things had it not been defeated in battle by a certain small catfish, thereby losing its chance to pursue the Great Dao.

However, the beauty of the Great Dao was that it always left a glimmer of hope for everyone. The golden carp that had been taken to Great Sui Nation, the fire dragon that had transformed into Ruan Xiu's bracelet, the catfish in the possession of River Severing True Lord Liu Zhimao's disciple, Gu Can, the wood dragon that had been given life by Zhao Yao, and the four-legged snake that remained stubbornly by Wang Zhu's side, despite the regular abuse that it suffered at her hands, these five creatures were the most prized fated opportunities that had arisen in Jewel Small World during the 3,000 years of its existence.

As for the artifacts like the sword nurturing gourd and the demon exposing mirror, they were certainly still prized treasures, but they were far inferior to the five living fated opportunities that could've been claimed from the small world.

As for that python on Yellow Lake Mountain, it had ended up in quite a fortunate situation in that there was no longer anything capable of contending with in the entire area, thereby allowing it to reign supreme, completely uncontested.

As long as the python knew what was best for itself and pledged its subordination to one of the mountain gods or the river god assigned to Dragon Spring County, then it would be granted protection from the Great Li Empire, and perhaps it would have another chance at stepping onto the path of cultivation.

"I'm planning to buy True Jewel Mountain and Downtrodden Mountain," Chen Ping'an replied.

Ruan Qiong was rather taken aback to hear this, and he was quite curious about Chen Ping'an's decision. "I suppose I can understand True Jewel Mountain, given that it only costs a single Greeting Spring Coin, which is pretty much nothing more than spare change for you at this point, but what's drawn you to Downtrodden Mountain?

That mountain is situated near the southwestern border of Dragon Spring County, so there's no way you would've had enough time to visit it on your trip. Furthermore, it was also one of the mountains that had been previously sealed off by the Great Li Empire. Did you pick it based on its name alone?"

Chen Ping'an was rather embarrassed by this question, and he was reluctant to reveal his reasons.

As it turned out, at the time, Chen Ping'an had been inspecting the map, unable to decide which mountain to choose as his final one. Right at that moment, a bird had flown past overhead, dropping a turd onto the map as it did so.

Chen Ping'an hurriedly wiped the fecal matter away, only to find that it had landed right on the annotation of "Downtrodden Mountain" on the map. Hence, Chen Ping'an immediately chose the mountain as the final one that he was going to purchase, despite the negative connotations behind its name.

Old Man Yao had once told him that gods resided in all mountains and bodies of water.

Hence, Chen Ping'an had taken that as a sign from the heavens.

After a moment of consideration, Ruan Qiong said, "I suppose there's no harm in choosing Downtrodden Mountain. In that case, it's decided. Downtrodden Mountain, Treasured Scripture Mountain, Immortal Herb Mountain, Rainbow Cloud Mountain, and True Jewel Mountain. During the next 300 years, you're free to do whatever you want with those five mountains.

You can even dig them up and take them away, and no one will stop you. Furthermore, everything that arises from those mountains, regardless of whether it be spirit herbs, exotic creatures, or even the occasional secret treasure, will all belong to the one who signs their name on the Great Li Empire's genealogical records to claim ownership over the mountains."

"I understand," Chen Ping'an replied with a nod.

Ruan Qiong continued, "There are a couple more things that you need to keep in mind, which is that before you die, you have to notify the Great Li Empire through the Dragon Spring County office that you wish to pass your mountains onto someone else, and also state the name of the person inheriting the mountains from you.

Of course, the ministry of revenue will keep a secret file, and you can assign an heir to each of the five mountains. That file is kept in case you suddenly die someday and don't get a chance to erect a will. Secondly, if you wish to sell one or more of your mountains during the next 300 years, you can't just do so at any time that you please.

Instead, you must receive approval from at least three powers among the Great Li Empire's authorities for the transaction to go through. However, I advise you not to sell those mountains at any point. No matter how much you sell them for, in the end, you'll come to realize that you made a loss."

Ruan Qiong was a Militarian Sage that reigned supreme over what was once a small world, yet he was discussing business matters with an impoverished young boy who had suddenly stumbled upon wealth as if they were equals.

This appeared to be quite a bizarre situation, but in reality, it made perfect sense. This was a matter that concerned the founding of his new sect and his daughter's Dao attainment catalyst, so he had no choice but to be careful and patient. In fact, he wanted nothing more than to explain everything as thoroughly as possible to Chen Ping'an.

"Do you have any questions, Chen Ping'an?" Ruan Qiong asked.

"No," Chen Ping'an replied with a smile and a shake of his head.

Ruan Qiong nodded in response. "In that case, we'll leave it at that for now. I presume you still have some copper coins left, I'll make sure to keep an eye out for shops going on sale in the town, and you can make some purchases there as well. However, make sure you don't bite off more than you can chew. From this point onward, the state of the town is only going to become more complex, so just buy one or two reliable and well-established shops."

Chen Ping'an's face became slightly flushed as he said, "Thank you, Master Ruan."

"A wise man thinks of the world around him, while a fool only thinks for himself," Ruan Qiong mused with a self-deprecating smile.

Chen Ping'an was rather perplexed to hear this, unsure of the meaning behind Ruan Qiong's words.

Ruan Qiong waved a dismissive hand as he said, "Don't mind me, just focus on what you're doing. You're nowhere near at the age where you should be thinking about things like this anyway."

Chen Ping'an rose to his feet before hoisting his basket onto his back, and all of a sudden, Ruan Qiong said something seemingly completely unrelated to what they had just been discussing. "Now that Mr. Qi is gone, it's only understandable that you would reminisce about him from time to time, but don't allow yourself to spend too much time dwelling on your sentimental feelings, and definitely don't try to uncover the reasons behind his departure.

Once you've purchased the five mountains and one or two shops, enjoy your passive income, start a family, and don't worry about anything else. The Great Li Empire and I will both look after you and your estate. Just like your name, nothing is more important than your safety. Perhaps someday, your luck could take a turn, and there may even be hope for you to step onto the path of cultivation."

Chen Ping'an remained silent as he departed.

Following his departure, Ruan Xiu sat down onto the vacated bamboo chair, then asked, "Why did you tell him all that at the end, Father?"

Ruan Qiong wore an indifferent expression as he replied, "I was trying to tell him that those who do not seek to broaden their horizons will become fools who constantly dwell on the past and be willing to settle for a safe and complacent life."

Ruan Xiu's brows furrowed slightly upon hearing this. "What's wrong with that? How is it wrong to wish for a safe and stable life? How does that make one a fool? I don't think this is a very reasonable sentiment."

"That's why the Sages of Confucianism also say that home is where the heart is," Ruan Qiong replied.

Ruan Xiu puffed out her cheeks in vexation as she grumbled, "These scholars are so infuriating! They preach everything that there is to be preached under the heavens, so you can never win an argument against them!"

"That's not a reason for you to avoid your studies, Xiuxiu," Ruan Qiong said in a heartfelt manner.

Ruan Xiu immediately sprang up from her chair upon hearing this, then exclaimed, "Oh my goodness, Father, I suddenly feel a burst of strength surging through my entire body! I'm going to go do some work in the forge now!"

Meanwhile, Chen Ping'an traveled to the Yang Family's medicine shop and delivered his basket full of all types of medicinal herbs to one of the employees there. After the medicinal herbs were weighed, Chen Ping'an received two taels of silver for his troubles.

There were many rare medicinal herbs that some of the younger employees in the shop didn't recognize at all, but they were prized ingredients in the eyes of Old Man Yang, and those were the true diamonds in the rough.

However, on this occasion, picking medicinal herbs had been nothing more than something that Chen Ping'an did along the way during his trip to the mountains, so his objective wasn't to earn money. Ever since Chen Ping'an learned how to burn wood into charcoal in the mountains, he made sure to pick medicinal herbs to be sold to the employees of the medicine shop every time he made a trip up to the mountains.

Aside from the few instances where the medicinal ingredients had been sold to Li Er, he had received less than what the medicinal ingredients were worth on all of the other dozens of occasions.

Old Man Yang never accepted any medicinal ingredients from Chen Ping'an. If Chen Ping'an dared to give any medicinal ingredients to the shop free of charge, then Old Man Yang would toss all of it onto the street, but strangely enough, if he were to sell it to a shop employee or one of the in-shop doctors, then Old Man Yang would completely ignore the matter, regardless of what price the medicinal ingredients were sold for.

On this occasion, Chen Ping'an didn't run into Old Man Yang.

After leaving the shop, Chen Ping'an discovered that there were many people discussing spiritedly among themselves on the streets outside about something that was happening over at the archway. Apparently, the former kiln supervision official, Master Song, had made a triumphant return to the town, having been promoted to a lofty position in the ministry of rites.

He had brought with him a group of imposing officials, and they had all gathered together to see the phrases inscribed upon the four plaques hanging on the crab archway, which was understandable, given that they were all well-read individuals. However, for some reason, as soon as news of this was delivered to the kiln supervision office, someone had immediately been sent into the mountains in a hurry to inform Wu Yuan of what was happening.

Wu Yuan was on the way to Distant Scene Mountain to oversee the felling of trees, and as soon as he learned about Master Song's arrival, he immediately left the mountains in an urgent manner with his entourage to stop Master Song and his group.

Meanwhile, Chen Ping'an had no part in any of this, and he merely followed the crowd to the archway before standing at the edge of the crowd to watch the proceedings from afar.

He could see that eight ladders had been propped up under the four plaques, with a pair of ladders situated on either side of each plaque. However, what was particularly worthy of note was that there was a pair of scholars standing on either side of the plaque that read "doing my part", and that was the only one of the four plaques to receive such treatment.

There was a significant age gap between the pair of scholars, and the elder one of the two was in the process of glowering sternly at someone down below while scolding them in the official dialect of the Great Li Empire.

All of a sudden, someone patted Chen Ping'an on the shoulder. "What a coincidence, Chen Ping'an. Did you come here because you also heard about what's happening?"

Chen Ping'an turned to discover that he had been approached by the boy with the red birthmark on his glabella, and he knew that the boy was a chronic chatterbox, so he wanted to avoid a conversation. Hence, he replied, "I just so happen to pass by. I don't really understand what they're saying, so I'm just gonna go home."

The boy smiled as he said, "Don't go. If you don't understand what's happening, then I can explain it to you. There's something very interesting going on here, and you're definitely going to regret it later if you go home now! Our kiln supervision official, Master Wu Yuan, is currently in a conflict with a group of superior officials from the ministry of rites. The one standing on the ladder over there is the right-hand minister of the ministry of rites, so he's a very important official in the Great Li Empire.

I'm assuming what's happening here is that the former kiln supervision official, Master Song, is using these plaques to appease the right-hand minister. He most likely promised to keep these plaques for the minister, and he's now following through on his promise to hand over the plaques to him, and that's how he secured his role in the ministry of rites.

These officials from the ministry of rites have come here to assign mountain and river gods, and they're taking advantage of this opportunity to take the plaques as well. However, they're being met with opposition from Master Wu, who regards all of the town's treasures as strictly off-limits, so he's certainly not just going to allow someone to strut in and take these treasures, particularly when there aren't many treasures left in this town.

Even if he's willing to swallow this bitter pill and allow these officials to take the plaques, you have to understand that all of the sly old foxes of the four surnames and ten clans are watching his every move. If he concedes now, his reputation will take a heavy hit, and it'll be very difficult for him to subjugate the four surnames and ten clans in the future.

At the moment, the site selection for the immortal tomb and the mountain of porcelain is already not going very smoothly. If he can't establish authority over the four surnames and ten clans and earn their respect, then it's going to be very difficult for him to carry out his work in the future."

Chen Ping'an listened carefully to the boy's spirited explanation, then asked, "Who are you? How do you know all of this?"

The boy pointed at himself, then chuckled in response, "Don't worry about me, I'm not an official of the Great Li Empire or anything like that. My name is Cui Chan. The Chan character in my name is a real pain to write, so I won't show it to you."

Chen Ping'an looked into the boy's eyes in silence, yet the boy remained completely unfazed, and he declared, "I'm older than you, so you can call me Uncle Cui."

Chen Ping'an merely smiled in response.

The boy also smiled as he gently rubbed his own cheeks, then continued, "It's alright, I also have a nickname that you can refer to me by. It's 'Embroidered Tiger'."Aall west chptrs on n.o./vli/n/(.)cm

Chapter end

<<Prev
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Catalogue
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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