unsheathed – Chapter 84 (1): I Have a Sword

Chapter 84 (1): I Have a Sword

Chapter 84 (1): I Have a Sword

Chen Ping'an quickly inspected his surroundings to ensure that there was no one else around aside from Ruan Xiu, and only then did he latch onto Li Baoping's hand as he said in a gentle voice, "Let's go somewhere else."

The bank of the creek was normally quite a peaceful place, but ever since that time when Chen Ping'an sensed that there was something dirty in the creek, he had become very reluctant to venture into the water.

In her despair, Li Baoping had informed Chen Ping'an of Ma Zhan's death without thinking, but as soon as she blurted out the reason for her visit, she immediately regretted her decision because Chen Ping'an wasn't alone. Li Baoping had already met Ruan Xiu once before on the Azure Cow Ridge.

At the time, the Golden Boy and Jade Girl of the Daoist Sects had also been present. One of them kept a pair of large fish, one red and one green, while the other had a pristine white deer, and both of them had ties with the Li Clan. Of course, visually speaking, Ruan Xiu didn't appear to be a bad person, but she was precisely the type of person that Li Baoping was terrified of in her current state.

Despite their previous encounter, she didn't know Ruan Xiu very well at all, and Ruan Xiu appeared to be quite kind-hearted, but Li Baoping could never be sure if Ruan Xiu would suddenly stab her in the back someday. After all, she had just suffered a similar betrayal, and before she even knew what had happened, Ma Zhan was already dead.

Initially, Ma Zhan and Cui Minghuang had traveled together like a pair of long-lost friends, discussing the classics and quoting poetic phrases to one another while drinking to their hearts' content. In the words of Li Huai, Cui Minghuang had to have been either Ma Zhan's illegitimate son or his grandson. Otherwise, there was no way that they could've shared such a close bond.

No one could've anticipated that Cui Minghuang would suddenly turn on Ma Zhan, resulting in the latter's death. According to Ma Zhan, there were two particularly outstanding figures among all of the scholars following the teachings of Confucianism on Eastern Treasured Vial Continent, and they were nicknamed the old gentleman and the young gentleman.

Cui Minghuang was the vastly renowned young gentleman of Lake View Academy, and prior to his cold-blooded murder of Ma Zhan, everyone had been extremely fond of him. He was polite, sophisticated, and extremely well-read, seemingly having an answer for any question that was thrown at him.

The only one who didn't like Cui Minghuang was Lin Shouyi, but coming from an affluent clan on Peach Leaf Alley, Lin Shouyi always seemed to be quite cold and hostile to everyone. He wasn't on very good terms with the other children, so even though he had directed barbed insults at Cui Minghuang on many occasions, no one had paid him any heed. They merely thought that he was envious of Cui Minghuang for being such an intelligent and refined gentleman.

Ruan Xiu didn't know why Li Baoping seemed to be a little wary of her, but she still suggested, "How about we go to the newly constructed swordsmithing room?"

However, Li Baoping was absolutely petrified, and she grabbed tightly onto Chen Ping'an's hand while shaking her head vigorously with a pleading look in her eyes. "Chen Ping'an, please take me somewhere where it's just going to be the two of us.

Chen Ping'an gave Li Baoping's hands a gentle pat as he said in a soothing voice, "Trust me, the swordsmithing rooms here are the safest place we can be."

Li Baoping looked intently into Chen Ping'an's eyes, and they were just as clear and pure as the water in the creek. She was suddenly reminded of the first time that she had walked along the creek as a child. Looking at the slow-moving water, she had felt as if she were never going to grow up.

Having just endured such a traumatic event, a sense of overwhelming grief and indignation suddenly welled up in her heart, and she burst into tears as she sobbed, "You better not be lying to me, Chen Ping'an!"

"Trust me," Chen Ping'an reassured with a firm yet gentle look in his eyes.

With that, Ruan Xiu led the two of them to the new swordsmithing room, and after pulling out the key to open the door, she turned to Chen Ping'an with a smile as she said, "I'll stay out here and keep a lookout for you two. I won't let anyone in, not even my father."

A slightly awkward look appeared on Chen Ping'an's face, and he quietly asked, "Can you bring her something to eat and drink? I'm assuming once the adrenaline wears off and she's had a chance to calm down, she's going to be completely worn out, and she'll need to have something to eat to recover her energy. This happened to me a lot when I was a kid."

Ruan Xiu nodded in response, then turned away slightly before pulling a small embroidered pouch out of somewhere before handing it to Chen Ping'an. "There are five peach cakes from the pastry shop in there. I'll bring her some water as well, tell her not to eat the cakes too fast or she's going to choke on them."

Chen Ping'an and Li Baoping sat down across from one another on a pair of small stools, and she accepted the peach cakes from him, but displayed no intention of eating them.

"Tell me what happened," Chen Ping'an encouraged in a gentle voice.

Li Baoping commenced her story, but in a very uncharacteristic display, she was speaking very slowly and meticulously. However, this was a good thing for Chen Ping'an as it allowed him to process her story and think about what he was hearing, as well as to consider the situation from the positions of those involved. Prior to Ma Zhan's death, his journey with the five children had been going very smoothly.

The ox-drawn carriage and the pair of horse-drawn carriages had traveled several hundred kilometers, and during that time, Ma Zhan and Cui Minghuang had gotten along exceptionally well with each other, quickly becoming a pair of close friends, or so it appeared on the surface.

However, one day, while Ma Zhan was examining the children's homework, he suddenly declared that he was going to discuss the route that they were going to take for the rest of the trip, and that there was a chance that the two of them would part ways.

However, the children waited for a very long time, but neither Ma Zhan nor Cui Minghuang returned. Hence, Li Baoping and Li Huai had gone out to find them, and it was Li Huai who stumbled upon Ma Zhan, laying in a pool of his own blood.

His injuries were so severe that he was bleeding out of seemingly every single part of his body, resembling a bamboo basket that had just been lifted out of a creek, leaking water out of all of its countless gaps. On the brink of death, Ma Zhan asked Li Huai to bring only Li Baoping to him.

Following Li Baoping's arrival, he grabbed onto her hand, and he had already lost the ability to speak prior to this, but somehow, perhaps out of sheer force of will, he was able to pass on his final words to Li Baoping before passing away.

At this point in her story, Li Baoping had already broken down into sobs, making it impossible to form any further coherent sentences.

Chen Ping'an didn't really know how to console people, so all he could do was move his stool a little closer to Li Baoping and help her wipe away her tears as he repeated the words "it's alright" over and over again in a soothing voice.

After taking some time to compose herself, Li Baoping continued, "Mr. Ma grabbed onto my hand and told me that I had to find you and tell you in private to be wary of people of Lake View Academy and the capital city of the Great Li Empire. He told me that none of those people are to be trusted!"

"What happened to Shi Chunjia and the others?" Chen Ping'an asked with a grim expression.

A grin broke through Li Baoping's sobs as she replied, "They're currently leading the coach driver around and around in circles near Clay Vase Alley. Lin Shouyi feels like the coach driver isn't a good person, and he says that maybe he colluded with Cui Minghuang to kill Mr. Ma.

After we buried Mr. Ma, the coach driver told us that we wouldn't be able to go to Mountain Cliff Academy as Mr. Ma and Cui Minghuang had just been informed that Mountain Cliff Academy had defected to Great Sui Nation, which is an enemy nation. Without Mr. Ma or Cui Minghuang accompanying us, we won't even be able to make it to Great Sui Nation as we'll be executed as traitors of the Great Li Empire as soon as we get to the border.

We didn't know what to do at the time, and Mr. Ma didn't tell us what to do before he passed away. Should we return to the school in the town to wait for the next teacher, or should we go to Great Sui Nation to continue our journey to Mountain Cliff Academy?

In the end, we had no choice but to return here with the coach driver, but upon our return, he told us that all of our clans had already moved to the capital city of the Great Li Empire. He told us that the imperial court of the Great Li Empire had instructed all of our clans to leave some people behind in the town, so if we didn't believe him, we could go home and ask the people there for confirmation."

Right at this moment, Ruan Xiu knocked on the door of the swordsmithing room before entering with a kettle of water, and Li Baoping immediately fell silent.

Ruan Xiu then promptly departed, closing the door behind her as she did so.

Only after the door had been closed did Li Baoping continue, "That coach driver is very suspicious. He intentionally asked us which one of us knows a boy by the name of Chen Ping'an living on Clay Vase Alley, and he claimed that he had a message to pass on to you from Mr. Ma. I felt like something wasn't quite right, so I didn't say anything at the time."

"You did the right thing. Here, have some food first," Chen Ping'an urged.

Li Baoping did as she was told, scarfing down three peach cakes in a row before gulping down some water, then quickly wiped her face with the back of her hand as she hurriedly continued, "After that, the five of us found a chance to talk in private, and we decided that we couldn't just let him do whatever he pleased.

Hence, we came up with a plan. On the day before we were about to return to the town, Shi Chunjia began to fake an illness, and I volunteered to look after her. After that, I told Li Huai the layout of the area around Clay Vase Alley, and he lied to the coach driver, telling him that he knows you.

His excuse was that his father, Li Er, used to work at the Yang Family's medicine shop, and you often went there to sell medicinal ingredients, but he failed to recall this when the coach driver first asked about you."

Chen Ping'an was rather perplexed to hear this, and Li Baoping explained, "I often saw you going into the mountains to pick medicinal herbs on your own, and whenever you come out from the mountains, your basket is always full of medicinal ingredients."

Chen Ping'an didn't know how to react to this, but he nodded to indicate that she had explained herself sufficiently.

At the same time, there was a hint of lingering fear in his heart, and he said, "What you guys did was actually very dangerous."

Li Baoping nodded in response. "I know, that's why all of us made a pact together before we decided to execute this plan. Lin Shouyi said that he's nothing more than an illegitimate child who's detested by everyone, so he doesn't care if he dies. Shi Chunjia isn't very bright, and she just follows my lead on everything.

Li Huai said that he had nothing to be afraid of, and that if he dies, he'd just enter the cycle of reincarnation. His father is a coward, but he's certain that if something happens to him, his mother would definitely avenge him. Dong Shuijing was the most selfless one out of all of us. He said that he's the strongest one, so if our plan gets exposed, then he wants us to run away while he stays behind to fight the coach driver to the death.

However, I didn't think it was going to be that dangerous. If that coach driver really wanted to kill us, then he wouldn't have waited until we returned to the town. He definitely wanted us to do something for him, and we think that the true objective of the mastermind behind all of this definitely has something to do with you."

After eating the last two peach cakes, Li Baoping took a deep breath, then continued, "After that, we finally made it to Apricot Blossom Alley, and I told Dong Shuijing and Li Huai to take the coach driver on a shortcut to Clay Vase Alley, but the path is very narrow, so they had to leave the carriages behind. In reality, Li Huai is leading him around in a big circle.

After they left, I immediately ran away to find you in Clay Vase Alley, but you weren't home. Thankfully, one of your neighbors just so happened to be passing by, and they told me that you were working at the blacksmith shop. I was about to panic at the time!"

Chen Ping'an was astonished to hear this, and he asked, "Did you think of this entire plan?"

Li Baoping shook her head in response. "Lin Shouyi contributed some ideas as well. For example, he said that we can't just take the coach driver somewhere far away from Clay Vase Alley and tell him that that was Clay Vase Alley. If we do that, there's a very good chance that we'll be exposed, and we won't be able to get far away at all.

Instead, the best course of action was to get the coach driver to stop at Dong Shuijing's house on Apricot Blossom Alley, which isn't too far away from Clay Vase Alley, but still far enough away that we can take a long route without arousing any suspicions.

We figured that once the coach driver arrived on Apricot Blossom Alley, he was definitely going to ask passersby to confirm our location, and once he confirms that we're not far away from Clay Vase Alley, it'll be far easier to deceive him. As it turned out, we were right."

Chen Ping'an couldn't help but pat her on the head as he praised, "That was a brilliant plan!"

Li Baoping smiled as she said, "If you're not home, then there's no chance of the truth being exposed, so we won't have to worry about Li Huai and Dong Shuijing at all."

A curious look then appeared on Li Baoping's face as she asked, "By the way, why is it that both Mr. Ma and the coach driver wanted to find you?"

Chen Ping'an shook his head in response. "I'm completely in the dark about that myself. For now, all I know is that it may have something to do with the things left behind for me by Mr. Qi."

Mr. Qi had once taken him to secure leaves from the old locust tree, but he had already used the leaf with the "Yao" character on it.

As for that jade hairpin, both Qi Jingchun and Ning Yao had told him that it was just an ordinary hairpin, and that it wasn't made from any special material.

Through the process of elimination, Chen Ping'an deduced that the seals were most likely to blame.

Qi Jingchun had gifted him with a total of four seals, and Old Man Yang had previously told him to keep the seal with the "Jing" character on it safe in particular.

The complete phrase on the seal was "tranquil mind begets enlightenment", and aside from that, Mr. Qi had told him that he could use his mountain and water seals on any paintings of mountains and rivers that caught his fancy.

All of a sudden, Li Baoping pulled out three yellow locust leaves, then offered them to Chen Ping'an as she said with a sad expression, "The leaves turned yellow."

Chen Ping'an was immediately enlightened upon seeing this. It had to have been these three ancestral blessing locust leaves that had kept Ma Zhan alive just long enough to deliver his final words.

As it turned out, he was correct. If it weren't for the fact that Li Baoping had been carrying these three ancestral blessing locust leaves with her this entire time, Ma Zhan most likely wouldn't have been able to utter even a single word before he met his demise.

At this point, Chen Ping'an had already moved all of his most valuable belongings to the blacksmith shop. Master Ruan was allowing him to live in the earthen hut that Ning Yao had previously stayed in, and in addition to the eight snake gall pebbles that had retained their color, all of the other normal snake gall pebbles, of which there were around 100, had also been moved out of his ancestral residence on Clay Vase Alley and Liu Xianyang's residence, and they were currently piled up in a corner of the room.

However, the "Jing" character seal and the Mountain Shaking Guide were two things that he still kept on him at all times.

After pondering the situation, he said, "Right now, that coach driver should be on his way to the blacksmith shop. How about you hide here for now while I bring Shi Chunjia and Lin Shouyi here from the carriages?

If the coach driver asks where I am, I can get the people here to tell him that I have a habit of going out for strolls. Also, once the coach driver arrives at my house on Clay Vase Alley, he'll most likely have already figured out that he was led on a long route. Of course, he may not say anything about it, but from now on, all of you are truly going to be in danger."

Chen Ping'an could see that Li Baoping was still rather hesitant, and he reassured in a firm voice, "Trust me. Now that your clan has moved away to the capital city, this is the only safe place left for you in this town."

"You seem to really trust the blacksmith here," Li Baoping remarked.

Chen Ping'an shook his head in response. "I have much more trust in the rules that Mr. Qi told us about."

A bright smile immediately appeared on Li Baoping's face upon hearing this. "I see."

Upon making her decision, Li Baoping immediately sprang into action, displaying an astonishing degree of decisiveness. "I can tell you really trust Big Sister Ruan, so I'll get her to take me to Shi Chunjia and Lin Shouyi and bring them here. After that, we'll find a place to hide, so you don't have to worry about us. Just focus on speaking with that crook coach driver and finding out exactly what he's plotting."

"Sounds like a plan," Chen Ping'an said with a smile.

Chen Ping'an and Li Baoping emerged from the swordsmithing room, and Ruan Xiu was sitting some distance away from the door, presumably to reassure the two of them that she wasn't eavesdropping on their conversation. She was perched on a green bamboo chair, swaying side to side with a bored expression.

After hearing Chen Ping'an's request, Ruan Xiu agreed without any hesitation. "You can count on me!"

She then crouched down and turned to Li Baoping, indicating for the little girl to climb onto her back.

Li Baoping was very reluctant to do as she was told, and she protested, "I can run really fast!"

"I'm definitely faster," Ruan Xiu countered with a smile.

Li Baoping turned to Chen Ping'an with a displeased expression, clearly hoping that he would vouch for her speed.

Chen Ping'an was just about to say something when Ruan Xiu put on a serious expression and continued, "I can make several trips back and forth before you and Chen Ping'an even make it to the town once!"

Li Baoping pursed her lips in a skeptical expression as she scoffed, "I know that there are immortals and mystical beings in this world, but you can't just become an immortal just because you want to be one!"

"Do as she says, Li Baoping. There's no time to waste!" Chen Ping'an urged.

Li Baoping heaved a faint sigh before obediently climbing onto Ruan Xiu's back, and it was so soft and comfortable that she immediately began to nod off.

Prior to her departure, Ruan Xiu said to Chen Ping'an, "If you need anything, you can go to my father."

Chen Ping'an nodded in response.

With that, Ruan Xiu set off with a loud whoosh. Li Baoping was clinging onto her back, and she suddenly heard the wind howling past her ears, causing all of the fine hairs on her entire body to stand up on end in alarm.Chck out ltst vl on novl/bin(.)cm

She looked down to find that all of the buildings below had become as tiny as the bluestone slabs on Fortune Street, and that the stream had become as thin as a rope.

On the ground below, Chen Ping'an looked on with a dumbstruck expression as Ruan Xiu sprang up into the sky with Li Baoping on her back, then vanished in a flash.

Only then did it dawn on him that just like Ning Yao, Ruan Xiu was also an immortal.

In the peaceful residence on Erlang Alley, Cui Chan was standing beside the pond, while the dazed young boy was seated peacefully on a small stool.

"Bring me a cup of water," Cui Chan instructed.

The boy immediately rose to his feet before bringing back a cup of cold water with both hands.

Cui Chan accepted the cup, and with a flick of his wrist, the water cascaded toward the pond, transforming into a thin azure film of water.

The scene of the ox-drawn carriage and the horse-drawn carriage entering the town then appeared on the film of water at his behest, and everything in the image was presented in exceptional detail.

Cui Chan tucked his hands up his sleeves, and he appeared very casual and relaxed as he swayed back and forth from the balls of his feet to his heels like a roly-poly toy.

The anxiety and agitation normally seen in a cultivator about to welcome their Dao attainment catalyst were completely absent in him.

Cui Chan watched as Li Baoping bade farewell to two of the children traveling with her, then jumped down from the horse-drawn carriage before charging down the street. Meanwhile, the coach driver had been swindled away by the two young boys.

"I always mock Song Changjing's spies for having ** for brains, but it seems like my spies aren't much better. At the very most, he only has piss for brains," Cui Chan scoffed with a disappointed expression.

However, he didn't dwell on his disappointment, and the scene displayed on the film of water quickly transitioned so that it was following Li Baoping.

As he watched her rush along the street, he murmured to himself, "The children here are quite intelligent to begin with, particularly those around the same age as Song Jixin and Zhao Yao, and the slightly younger kids around this little girl's age are no slouches, either. Given the blessed nature of this place, the children here become very intelligent even at a young age, and they're certainly not to be underestimated."

Right as Li Baoping was approaching the stone bridge, the light glowing in Cui Chan's eyes began to ripple and churn, like a wave crashing into a rock.

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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