unsheathed – Chapter 102: Soaring White Ray

Chapter 102: Soaring White Ray

Chapter 102: Soaring White Ray

Once bamboo started growing together, they could easily grow into a sea-like forest as long as they didn't encounter any natural disasters or man made calamities.

However, the small and hidden bamboo forest in Go Table Mountain had grown extremely slowly for the past hundreds or thousands of years. Even after being cared for by generation after generation of mountain lords, it still showed no signs of expanding into a larger bamboo forest.

At this moment, the handsome young mountain lord of Go Table Mountain was squatting next to the two severed bamboo stumps. He stabbed his green bamboo cane into the earth next to him, and it was as if he wanted to cry as he sobbed in an aggrieved and quivering voice, "How can you bully me like this? No matter how esteemed a guest you are, you're still just a guest! Since when could a guest bully their host like this? To shatter the protective formation with a single slice and expose this treasured bamboo forest... Is this any different from stripping the daughter of your host naked simply because they're slender and beautiful? Is there any difference? Any at all?"

The two pythons that were born from the soil essence and cloud roots collected by immortals were coiled up in the outer fringes of the bamboo forest. Their eyes were cold and menacing, and there was a hint of pleasure in them at this moment. They were taking pleasure in the mountain lord's misfortune.

A voice sounded nearby, teasing, "Then it seems like you have far too many daughters. You'll definitely go broke trying to pay for their dowries in the future."

The young mountain lord immediately stood up in fright, wiping the grief and anger from his face. He bowed at A'Liang and apologized, "I'm sorry for making a fool of myself in front of you, great immortal. This underling is accustomed to the impoverished life in this small place, so please forgive me for having a narrow outlook on things. I can't compare to you, someone who's traveled all over the world and seen the myriad mountains and rivers with their own eyes.

"With your skills and knowledge, I'm sure you can tell just how important this bamboo forest is to me. This miserably small plot of land is genuinely the majority of my wealth. Even though that young boy only took two stalks of bamboo, that's still enough to make me feel uncontrollable sadness and grief. These are natural emotions, are they not? Please forgive me, great immortal. Please forgive my unintentional provocation."

After leaving and returning, A'Liang was now leaning sideways on an emerald-green stalk of bamboo. He looked at its lush leaves before retracting his gaze and asking, "Was the ancestor of this bamboo forest obtained from the Bamboo Sea Small World? And you carved it into this green cane? Because you offended a certain immortal, they removed your golden statue in anger?"

The young mountain lord was genuinely stunned when he heard this. The obsequious expression on his face didn't grow, and it instead showed signs of disappearing. He imperceptibly straightened his back before bowing properly and saying, "I'm Wei Bo, the mountain lord of Go Table Mountain. I was bestowed the title of mountain god by the final emperor of the Divine Water Nation, and I was responsible for the thousands of kilometers of land around Go Table Mountain.

"The dynasties changed afterward, and the Great Li Empire rose and conquered the Divine Water Nation. I did something that angered the founding emperor of the empire, and I was thus demoted from a mountain god to a mountain lord. The land under my control also decreased by 150 kilometers in radius, and to this day, I'm still regarded as a criminal."

He raised the green bamboo cane that was brimming with spiritual energy and said with a bitter smile, "Fortune never comes in pairs, and calamity never comes alone. I was forced to chop bamboo in the Bamboo Sea Small World, and this is where I carved this trekking cane. However, this unexpectedly angered an immortal friend of the bamboo forest's owner, and as he smiled, he pushed me back into the earth that I had come from."

As he leaned on the bamboo, A'Liang adjusted his stance into one that he felt was more carefree and dashing. He clicked his tongue in wonder and remarked, "Sounds quite pitiful."

The young mountain lord appeared slightly sheepish.

Ignoring the pitiful mountain lord for the moment, A'Liang turned around to look at someplace next to the bamboo forest. In his vision, he could see Chen Ping'an who had returned with him standing on a small hill. The pythons smartly kept their distance, and this was especially the case with the white python which still felt deep apprehension in its mind. Its eyes were extremely alert. A'Liang smiled and said, "My friend wants to do some business with you. You two can decide on a price, and if the deal succeeds, then we'll be friends in the future. If the deal doesn't succeed, however, there are still other moral and righteous ways to handle the situation..."

As he said this, A'Liang smiled and placed his hand on the hilt of his saber.

A'Liang retracted his gaze from the two pythons and asked in slight curiosity, "Those two beasts aren't genuine descendants of flood dragons, so how was that black python able to take the rudimentary form of a black flood dragon? How was it able to grow dragon feet with four claws? Did these pythons encounter some rare opportunity?"

The mountain lord who had introduced himself as Wei Bo carefully replied, "That's right, they did indeed come across a rare opportunity. However, this underling isn't sure about the exact time that this occurred, and I can only guess that it's somehow related to Jewel Small World. They definitely swallowed some strange thing by accident, and this strange thing was definitely something that's extremely beneficial to snakes and fish.

"Red Candle Town, which is located close to the border of Go Table Mountain, is a place where three rivers converge. One of these rivers is called Rushing Tranquil River, and inside this river is a carp that's grown two genuine dragon whiskers. This is something that others are extremely envious of. Around 100 years ago, this carp followed the flow of the river, stream, and mountain spring as it continued to swim upstream, eventually arriving at Go Table Mountain where I was able to personally catch a glimpse of it. Theoretically speaking, it shouldn't have been able to grow such astonishing dragon whiskers even if it were given 500 more years."

A'Liang nodded and said in realization, "After hearing this, I have a slight idea of the situation now."

Wei Bo glanced at the saber by A'Liang's waist and asked in a tentative manner, "Great immortal, how did you learn about this bamboo cane's history?"

There was a strange expression on A'Liang's face, and he laughed as he avoided the question, saying instead, "I traveled around the Bamboo Sea Small World when I was young, and I'm slightly acquainted with Lady Zhu[1] in that small world. However, our relationship isn't that tight. It's fairly ordinary. M-hm, very ordinary..."

An expression of yearning spread across Wei Bo's face when he heard the title Lady Zhuo. One had to realize that she was the sole deity in the Bamboo Sea Small World, and she was someone who rarely ever appeared before others. It was rumored that she was extremely slender and taller than most men.

A founder of the School of Fiction, one of the Hundred Schools of Thought, once made the resolve to travel through the four worlds and record the local cultures and customs of each place. In his travel log, he explicitly described Madam Zhu as "beautiful in appearance, joyful in bare feet, with hair jet black".

Even though Wei Bo was also a mountain lord in the same vein as Lady Zhu, he was far inferior to her in both status and cultivation base. In fact, the gulf between them was so large that Wei Bo couldn't even bring himself to feel shame. Instead, he could only feel a sense of respect and reverence toward her. Stories of Lady Zhu's deeds were also widespread, and this resulted in her becoming a familiar name even in Eastern Treasured Vial Continent.

Beneath the 10 large worlds were the 36 small worlds Jewel Small World that had hovered above the Great Li Empire before was one of the latter. This small world had measured thousands of kilometers in range, yet it had only been the smallest of the 36 small worlds.

Qi refiners often referred to small worlds as mystical realms, and this was in order to distinguish them from large worlds. Mystical realms were generally brimming with spiritual energy, yet compared to the 10 large worlds, the land inside them appeared comparatively damaged and incomplete. This was because these mystical realms were potentially born from ancient ruins or battlefields. Their history was complicated, and there was even a mystical realm called the Island Small World this was a mystical realm that housed numerous ancient islands that had mysteriously disappeared from the world. In fact, this was a mystical realm that was surprisingly located in the abdomen of a primordial beast, the island-engulfing whale.

Meanwhile, the Bamboo Sea Small World was one of the highest-ranked small worlds, and it specialized in growing all kinds of incredible bamboo that were viewed with great importance by generation after generation of immortals and cultivators. These stalks of bamboo could be refined into all kinds of artifacts that would quickly gain renown in the cultivation world.

Only a single transcendent immortal clan existed in the small world the long-established Azure Divine Mountain. According to legends, the founder of the clan had once sought knowledge from Confucius, and he had brought a young "merit bamboo plant" with him as a gift. Afterward, this bamboo plant had flourished in the "forest of morality" that was located in the sacred lands of the Confucian Sect.

On the contrary, the "merit bamboo plants" in the Bamboo Sea Small World became increasingly dry and withered. It was said that this kind of bamboo could record the merits and faults of virtuous people. At the same time, this was also one of the origins of the commonly mentioned "merit register".

While A'Liang and Wei Bo chatted, Chen Ping'an sat on a boulder with his snapped machete in hand. Nearby, there were too large and terrifying pythons. They exchanged glances with Chen Ping'an, and their bodies were like two long and winding mountain paths that snaked and vanished into the forest. The occasional sound of trees being pulverized by their powerful tails could be heard.

During their travels, Chen Ping'an was not only learning characters from Li Baoping, but he was even learning the official dialect of the Great Li Empire from her. He was progressing quite well, though his pronunciation naturally still carried a thick accent from the small town. Even so, he was able to convey his points more often than not during normal conversations.

Using this newly-learned official dialect, Chen Ping'an told the two previously hostile pythons about the five mountains that he had purchased in Dragon Spring County. He hoped that they could move to Downtrodden Mountain, and he naturally didn't forget to mention the fact that the sage, Master Ruan, had loaned three mountains from him.

Compared to Chen Ping'an, it was clear that the pythons were far more aware of the might of the sages who were guarding Jewel Small World. Even the black python who had indifference in its eyes the entire time developed a different expression. As for the white python, it had wavered slightly upon the mere mention of Dragon Spring County.

After hearing that the Great Li Empire had already dispatched a geomantic official from the Ministry of Astronomy and officials from the Ministry of Rites to survey 60 or so mountains, and that the emperor was going to appoint more than one official mountain god, an unconcealed sense of excitement and anticipation appeared in the white python's eyes. It couldn't help but fervently hiss in emotion. However, the black python ferociously bumped it with its head, causing it to fall silent again.

Chen Ping'an breathed a sigh of relief when the pythons didn't immediately reject his proposal. He continued, "Even though I have little understanding of cultivation, I can say with absolute certainty that the spiritual energy in Go Table Mountain is far inferior to the spiritual energy in my mountains. Perhaps cultivating for 100 years in my mountains will be equivalent to cultivating for several hundred years here.

"While coming here, A'Liang also told me more about the process of fish and snakes transforming into dragons. This is a treacherous path on which many mountain gods and river gods will purposely obstruct you and make things more difficult for you. If you can build good relationships with Master Ruan and the officials from the Great Li Empire early on, perhaps this path will become much easier to walk in the future."

Chen Ping'an had prepared the first half of this speech by himself. Meanwhile, the second half was some smart persuasion that A'Liang had taught him to say.

Chen Ping'an's voice became solemn as he said, "The old man who taught me how to fire pottery once said that mountain spirits and ghosts and river demons and monsters aren't necessarily more evil than humans. When I saw you two, I felt like his words didn't make any sense. However, you two were subdued by A'Liang and not me, so I can't say much now that A'Liang has decided to spare you. If I were as powerful as A'Liang, and if you two still dared to provoke me or wantonly eat people in front of me..."

Chen Ping'an gestured with the broken machete in his hand as he stared at the white python, continuing, "Then you won't simply lose half of your wing. Instead, last night's supper would have been a large pot of stewed snake meat."

After losing its wing, the white python's cultivation base had also been severely affected. This had distressed it greatly. After having more salt poured on its wound by the young boy, the cold-blooded beast felt as if its scar were being brutally torn open by someone. It flew into a rage, and it tensed its body as it reared its head, ready to lunge forward and kill the detestable young boy.

Chen Ping'an was unfazed.

The black python also moved, but it wasn't to help the white python target Chen Ping'an. Instead, it widened its jaws and viciously bit down on the white python's neck before whipping around and tossing its "slender" companion aside, causing it to become dazed and confused.

Wei Bo was given a start, and he was just about to step forward to tell the two pythons to calm down, lest they accidentally wound the young boy and drag him into their mess. However, A'Liang lightly shook his head and said, "Don't interfere."

The young mountain lord was slightly puzzled, and he couldn't help but steal a glance at the man. A'Liang was still leaning there, with his arms crossed and with one foot on the bamboo and one foot on the ground. His posture was lazy, and his expression was calm.

Meanwhile, the two pythons ferociously glowered at each other.

Chen Ping'an stood up, but he didn't jump down from the boulder. Instead, he tightened his grip on the broken machete.

He didn't know what the two pythons hissed to each other, but he saw the white python finally start to calm down a little. However, its gaze was still filled with aggression and intensity as it glared at Chen Ping'an.

Chen Ping'an stared right back at the white python, and he said, "Right now, there are tens of thousands of people laying paths in the mountains. After entering the mountains to cultivate, you're not allowed to kill people for the sake of filling your bellies. Of course, it's a completely different matter if you kill them in self-defense for example, if you kill someone who's especially entered the mountains to hunt you.

"But remember, if you two break the rules after obtaining all the benefits, Master Ruan definitely won't show any mercy. What you two did before this moment has got nothing to do with me. However, if you agree to my proposal and enter my mountains, then what you two do in the future has got everything to do with me.

"And that's why I'm giving these unpleasant warnings beforehand," Chen Ping'an finished with a serious expression.

The black python remained silent and unmoving.

However, the white python was seething with irrepressible rage. Even though it had abandoned its urge to lash out at Chen Ping'an, and even with the enticement of the Great Dao before it, it still couldn't help but lightly rub its belly against the ground, with an aura of impatience and violence oozing from its body.

In the distant bamboo forest, A'Liang had already chosen to sit down on a stalk of bamboo at some unknown time. This was an extremely flexible and tough stalk of bamboo, and it had been forcefully bent into the shape of an arch as A'Liang casually sat on it.

Wei Bo who was feeling an intense urge to straighten the stalk of bamboo with his hands stole a quick glance at the greatly disparate confrontation between Chen Ping'an and the two pythons and explained, "Even though the black python is the more ruthless and cruel of the two, it's also the more intelligent of the two. In fact, it's already learned the ability to judge the situation and act accordingly, understanding when to advance and when to retreat.

"The white python appears more harmless and less intent on hurting others, but it's actually comparatively more difficult to communicate with it. This is largely because it's still acting on its primal instincts. Interestingly, this is also related to the original locations of their burrows on Go Table Mountain. The white python was only an idle piece, while the black python was a critical piece in slaying the ferocious dragon[2].

"As a result, these two rulers of Go Table Mountain are completely different in temperament. The white python likes to slither around and cause all kinds of commotion. As for the black python, it prefers to focus on cultivation, and it earnestly absorbs the essence of the sun and moon every day. This is because it harbors lofty goals and ambitions."

A'Liang nodded in response.

Wei Bo hesitated a little before saying, "The young boy isn't wrong, and everything he said is quite reasonable. However, he still lacks an understanding of the pythons' temperament and habits. After entering the path of cultivation, staying true to their hearts and minds is the foundation of their Great Dao. In addition, pythons that have gained sentience more or less understand the concept of face.

"Since they've become accustomed to ruling over Go Table Mountain, they'll naturally feel like they're being suppressed and controlled if they go to the young boy's mountain. This is especially the case since he mentioned the sage and threatened them with death if they dared to eat people. This will further cause the pythons to feel like Chen Ping'an's trying to suppress them, and it will inevitably cause them to feel more enraged. After all, agreeing to his proposal will potentially tie them to him for hundreds of years. As such, it's only natural that they're worried about his character and trustworthiness..."

A'Liang interrupted the mountain lord's rambling and said, "You don't need to speak up for your neighbors in such a roundabout manner. I already said that I won't interfere, so what are you afraid of? At the end of the day, the two pythons are unwilling to yield so easily because they feel like Chen Ping'an doesn't have the right to negotiate with them, being only at the second martial arts tier. Even if his requests are reasonable, the pythons will still feel like they're overbearing and intolerable. If it were me negotiating with them instead, how do you think the pythons would react?"

Wei Bo smiled in a self-ridiculing manner and praised, "Great immortal, your understanding of the situation is as clear as a brilliant flame."

"Answer my question," A'Liang said calmly.

Wei Bo immediately fell silent in fear and trepidation. After carefully organizing his words in his mind, he answered with a solemn expression, "They'll instantly agree to move without a second thought! They won't dare to feel even a shred of anger or discontent!"

A'Liang nodded as he observed the situation with a relaxed expression. "Very well. You've preserved half of your bamboo forest."

A burst of crackling and rustling sounded in the surrounding bamboo forest.

Surprisingly, it was as if half of the bamboo forest had been severed at the waist, with the felled bamboo stalks falling to the ground.

Wei Bo fell to his knees and stammered in apprehension, "Please calm down, oh great immortal."

A'Liang had no time for him, and he replied with a cold expression, "See? Even though I've already displayed my might and frightened everyone once, I'm still being taken for a fool by a measly mountain lord simply because I'm too friendly and soft-spoken. I must say, it's quite difficult to be a good person."

The young mountain lord didn't dare to say anything.

A'Liang suddenly chuckled and continued, "Stand up and speak. It won't look good if you keep kneeling there like that. I'll make a bet with you we'll bet on whether that miserly young boy is willing to make a huge concession. You'll wager that he is, and I'll wager that he isn't. If you win, you can keep the remaining half of your bamboo forest. If you lose, however, didn't you just recover your physical form? I'll pummel you back to your original form."

Wei Bo had only just stood up, and he looked like he wanted to die at this moment. "Dare I ask, great immortal, what are my chances of winning the bet?" he murmured.

A'Liang raised a single finger.Visjt nvelbin(.)cm for new updates

The color drained from Wei Bo's face. Only a measly 10%...

The man with the bamboo hat grinned and said, "Just one percent."

He then turned to Chen Ping'an and shouted, "Chen Ping'an, feel free to set as many conditions as you want. It doesn't matter how unreasonable or preposterous they are. I'll be watching over things, so don't be afraid of angering the two beasts. If things really do get physical, then it'll also be a good opportunity for me to practice my moves against the two pythons. Rest assured, I'll definitely keep an eye on everything, and if the situation calls for it, I'll definitely rush over to help.

"In any case, didn't you spar with Zhu He, the Fifth Tier elite, just then? It was clear that you comprehended something after the sparring session, so why don't you strike the iron while it's still hot? Perhaps you'll be able to comprehend even more things."

Wei Bo was completely stupefied.

A'Liang smiled and said, "Sorry, your chance of winning just dropped to zero percent."

Wei Bo's expression was ashen, and this perilous situation instead caused him to find an extra burst of courage. He smiled bitterly and complained, "Senior A'Liang, you're a very immoral gambler."

A'Liang offered a strange response, saying, "Do you really think I went through all that trouble to set up a scenario where I'll achieve certain victory? Do I, A'Liang, look like such a senseless person to you?"

The young mountain lord carefully ruminated over these words. When he looked at Chen Ping'an again, there was both envy and pity in his eyes.

A short moment later...

A burst of white sword intent that was mighty enough to shake mountains soared into the sky.

Wei Bo fell onto his rear in fright.

A'Liang's figure instantly vanished from the stalk of bent bamboo, and he arrived high above Go Table Mountain and ferociously drew the green bamboo saber from his side. The soaring white ray was ruthlessly severed and prevented from rising any further.

Another moment later, A'Liang had already reappeared on the stalk of bamboo that hadn't even had the time to straighten. He casually tossed aside the damaged saber that had been made from ordinary bamboo. Even though it hadn't snapped, the blade of the saber had already become splintered and disfigured.

The black python madly fled into the dense forest of Go Table Mountain.

Before the young boy, the white python that had suddenly lunged at him without any warning was already lying there without its head. Its bloody and mangled neck was completely exposed, and this was an extremely harrowing and ghastly sight.

However, Chen Ping'an's expression was calm as he cracked a grin.

The look in his eyes was identical to when he had killed Cai Jinjian from Dawn Cloud Mountain in the small alley.

A'Liang held back a smile as he untied the small gourd from his waist. He took a large swig of wine and chuckled softly, "Things are starting to get a little interesting now."

1. Lady Zhu literally means Lady Bamboo.

2. This is a reference to the game of Go, as is the name of the mountain.

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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