Unsheathed - C.275: Some Reunions Are the Best


C.275: Some Reunions Are the Best

Chen Ping'an was completely disoriented, and he had no idea where he was in Stalactite Mountain. There were no large trees and tall branches around for him to jump onto, where he could then gain a high vantage point and survey the surroundings. Instead, there were only tall courtyard walls and gates around him. However, Chen Ping'an naturally didn't dare to recklessly jump onto someone else's courtyard wall.

It was still early in the morning, so few people were walking along the streets. Moreover, none of them could speak the official dialect of Eastern Treasured Vial Continent. If this were during normal times, Chen Ping'an would find it hard not to worry — he hadn't returned to Stork Inn for the entire night, so Jin Su would definitely be worried about him. In fact, even Osmanthus Island, which was currently unloading goods at the Catch and Release Dock, might have been alerted to this fact.

However, as Chen Ping'an slowly walked along the quiet street, he felt like going with the flow was also quite a good choice. He would enjoy whatever scenery he came across.

How could a person never worry others? Thus, he didn't need to feel too guilty about worrying others once or twice.

Chen Ping'an continued to stroll forward, all the way until he eventually saw her.

Ning Yao was standing on the other end of the street, and she was also slowly walking toward him.

She was dressed in a flowing green robe. If Chen Ping'an remembered correctly, this robe was very similar to the one that he had bought for her in Jewel Small World. It suited her very well.

Chen Ping'an jogged forward and came to a stop in front of Ning Yao, instinctively saying, "What a coincidence."

Ning Yao pursed her lips and put on a stern expression, not saying anything in reply.

"I initially wanted to take a look around the entire Stalactite Mountain these two days," Chen Ping'an continued in a soft voice. "I wanted to visit some more shops before deciding whether I would go to Ganoderma Inn to buy a few things. Afterward, I could give you some presents along with the sword that Master Ruan forged for you."

"What good items can Ganoderma Inn have?" Ning Yao huffed in reply. "At most, that Ganoderma Ruyi and Sword Nurturing Gourd are half-decent. However, these things aren't useful to me, and Ganoderma Inn won't sell them either. It's not like you can afford them anyway."

"Oh, I see," Chen Ping'an replied as he scratched his head in slight disappointment.

Ning Yao hesitated for a moment before going against her personality and saying in a rare display, "Don't dwell on it, I don't mean anything else." It was as if she were trying to explain herself.

Chen Ping'an smiled and replied, "I won't dwell on it. My brain is like mush right now, and thinking about anything makes it hurt."

"Does your head hurt after seeing me?" Ning Yao asked.

"It's much better now," Chen Ping'an hurriedly replied.

"Where are you staying?" Ning Yao asked. "Why are you wandering around here aimlessly? What, are you looking for a conflict where you can swoop in to save a beauty?"

Chen Ping'an sighed and explained, "I drank the Golden Millet Blessed Land's Forgetting Sorrow Wine last night. However, I became lost immediately after I left the wine shop. I don't know how to return."

The two of them casually strolled along the street, and Ning Yao asked, "How can you afford Forgetting Sorrow Wine?"

Chen Ping'an lowered his voice and replied, "A couple treated me to it. In fact, things are a little strange. Someone dragged me over to the Sword Qi Great Wall just then, and I clearly saw that couple standing there. However, when I saw them yesterday, they claimed that it was their first time in the Sword Reverence Pagoda. Even so, they were still extremely familiar with many of the sword immortals honored in the pagoda.

"Perhaps it's very easy for people in Stalactite Mountain to go to the Sword Qi Great Wall, but it's far more difficult for people in the Sword Qi Great Wall to go to Stalactite Mountain? In any case, strange as things were, I still feel like that couple were good people. They were also kind enough to treat me to some wine. If I get an opportunity in the future, I'll definitely have to return the favor."

Ning Yao offered a muffled reply.

The two of them walked along a serene alley that had vines climbing up the tall courtyard walls. Ning Yao remained silent the entire time.

"Ning Yao, you left in a hurry back then, so I forgot to ask you this. Do you dislike me?" Chen Ping'an asked.

"No, I don't," Ning Yao replied without hesitation.

Chen Ping'an stopped and instinctively reached down to grab his wine gourd. However, he quickly let go and looked straight at Ning Yao. "Then do you like me?"

Ning Yao remained silent.

Chen Ping'an copied the gesture she had made back in Clay Vase Alley back then, holding two fingers very close together and asking, "Even just this tiny bit?"

Ning Yao didn't answer his question. Instead, she turned the question on Chen Ping'an and asked, "Why do you like me?"

Chen Ping'an turned around and grabbed his Sword Nurturing Gourd, taking a quick swig of wine. He wiped his mouth and put on a dazzling smile, replying, "Now, this will take quite a while to get through. Let me explain it to you slowly. Ning Yao, you definitely have to let me finish no matter what. Don't cut me off even if you get really angry. Otherwise, I'm scared that I'll never be able to summon enough courage to say these things again in my lifetime.

"Ning Yao, you're truly very beautiful. Before meeting you, I had never come across a more beautiful person in Jewel Small World. When you were recuperating in Clay Vase Alley, you didn't complain about my impoverished situation either. You even taught me characters and helped explain the Mountain Shaking Guide to me. It was thanks to you that I started to practice fist techniques. It was thanks to you that I've made it until today and made it to Stalactite Mountain.

"When we were by the covered bridge, you lent me your skirt dagger and fought alongside me afterward. We punished that Mountain-moving Ape from Sun Scorch Mountain together, and we ultimately managed to survive even though we had some brushes with death. How great was that?

"When we were in the immortal tomb, I almost beat Ma Kuxuan to death as well. After that, we went to the tall mountain in the west and helped that Chen Clan girl from Southern Whirl Continent to find that model tree. You also got angry one time, and you refused to accept my help and insisted that you would brew your medicine by yourself. However, you ended up with a pile of burnt ingredients. I felt like you were really adorable.

"There was also a time when you said that the Great Dao shouldn't be so narrow. I didn't understand what you meant back then. However, I finally understood it after my journey to Stalactite Mountain. In fact, I was also very happy when you encouraged me not to be a foolishly kind person and not to act like a charity.

"When you left Jewel Small World, you had already traveled so far away with those immortals, yet you were still willing to return on your sword and say goodbye to me. After you left, I sat by myself and ate some tanghulu, a snack that would make the little me drool just by thinking about it. However, even that became tasteless.

"Mr. Qi left us, and I brought Little Baoping and the others to Great Sui Nation. I was reminded of your eyebrows whenever I saw beautiful mountains, and I was reminded of your eyes whenever I saw limpid waters. I would think of you whenever I came across good-looking girls on my journey. With you in my mind, these girls would no longer appear good-looking."

Like pouring beans from a bamboo tube, Chen Ping'an said all of these things in a single go. However, his throat quickly started to feel dry, and his face also flushed bright red. He felt like the Sword Nurturing Gourd in his hand weighed tens of thousands of kilograms.

However, Chen Ping'an didn't regret saying any of this.

"Ning Yao, I like you, and this is my own personal feeling. It's okay if you don't like me," he said in a quivering voice.

Ning Yao leaned against a wall, and the vines climbing up the surface still didn't seem as beautiful and moving as her.

"If I say I don't like you, will you run away and develop feelings for another girl?" she asked. "For example..."

She pondered for a moment and continued, "Ruan Xiu?"

Chen Ping'an looked at Ning Yao, and he finally discovered how heart-breaking — yet, seemingly not so heart-breaking — it was for a girl whom he liked to not reciprocate his feelings. "If liking another girl means never seeing you again, then I'll never like another girl in my life. I’ll still only like you even when I'm tens of thousands of kilometers away, in places where you can't see me, and when I throw tens of millions of punches."

Ning Yao rolled her eyes and asked, "Am I that unreasonable?"

Chen Ping'an faltered upon hearing this.

However, Ning Yao quickly answered her own question, saying in a firm voice, "Yes, I am indeed that unreasonable!"

She suddenly started to chuckle in a childishly smug manner. When she smiled, her eyebrows appeared increasingly slender and beautiful. She crossed her arms and said, "An idiot has fallen for me, so what else can I do?"

After saying this, she took two steps forward and hugged the young boy from the Great Li Empire, murmuring, "Chen Ping'an! I like you just as much as you like me!"

During their first reunion, she had actually wanted to say...

...I don't like you.

However, it had been so incredibly difficult.

Ning Yao let go, the rims of her eyes slightly red. There was a rare expression of embarrassment on her face, and she exclaimed, "Why are you so dumb?!"

"How can you genuinely like me...?" Chen Ping'an stammered in a daze.

In this sense, Chen Ping'an was identical to Liu Baqiao from Wind Lightning Field.

They both liked a girl so much that they felt like their feelings would never be reciprocated in their lifetimes. Moreover, they wouldn't feel wronged or aggrieved at all.

Ning Yao finally recovered a little, with her eyebrows slender and lively like the sharpest flying sword in the world as she replied, "Do I, Ning Yao, need a reason to like someone?!"

In truth, she did need a reason — many reasons, in fact.

However, she was too embarrassed to reveal them. She was a young girl, after all, and she wasn't as thick-skinned and shameless as Chen Ping'an.

As if being assisted by the gods, Chen Ping'an suddenly stepped forward and hugged Ning Yao.

Ning Yao pursed her lips and flushed red. She didn't try to pull away, and she instead quietly raised a hand and lightly grabbed Chen Ping'an's sleeve.

In a small alleyway in Stalactite Mountain, the young boy and young girl quietly enjoyed each other's embrace.

It was as if the world had come alive at this moment.

Ning Yao was Ning Yao and Chen Ping'an was Chen Ping'an, after all, so the two of them didn't remain embarrassed for too long.

After finishing their embrace, Ning Yao led the way and said that they should finish that half a jar of golden millet wine. She led Chen Ping'an to someplace under an old locust tree, and she raised a hand as if knocking on an invisible door.

The space in front of Ning Yao quickly started to ripple, taking on the appearance of a wine shop. Ning Yao strode in, and Chen Ping'an followed closely behind her.

Xu Jia, the young shop attendant, was extremely hospitable when he saw Ning Yao. "Oh, you're back, Miss Ning. I'll treat you to some wine?"

Ning Yao took a glance at him. Who is this? I don't have any impression.

Thus, she ignored him and directly chose a table to sit down at.

Xu Jia was immediately deflated.

He felt like this girl was second to only Young Mistress in the world, and she had left a strong impression on him ever since the first time she had visited the wine shop.

That was sometime several years ago. The young girl had left the Sword Qi Great Wall and come to Stalactite Mountain for the first time, and some person had brought her to the wine shop and had two jars of wine for themselves. Meanwhile, the young girl had only tried a sip before not drinking anymore.

Back then, she had been dressed in black with a saber by her waist. She hadn't been carrying two swords, and she hadn't been dressed in a dark green robe either. Her expression had been cold and aloof, and she hadn't paid any even when the shopkeeper had locked eyes with her.

While A'Liang was drinking, she had walked over to the tall wall by herself and looked at it for a long time. She hadn't said anything, and she had eventually returned to her seat. In Xu Jia's eyes, the young girl had a very strong personality. In fact, her personality was so dazzling that it was almost blinding.

A'Liang hadn't been smiling and acting goofy that time, and he had simply focused on drinking wine. Xu Jia could tell that A'Liang had been trying to persuade the young girl about something. It was as if the young girl had been about to do something incredible. A'Liang had been drinking in a resigned manner, and only then had Xu Jia realized that there were also times when this man would be helpless.

In the end, the young girl had stubbornly refused to be seen off by A'Liang. She had insisted on leaving the wine shop by herself. Afterward, A'Liang hadn't drank much more. His expression had been glum, and he had said that the young girl, who was like his daughter, had flown off just like that.

Xu Jia took a glance at Chen Ping'an, the young boy from the Great Li Empire.

No matter how he looked at Chen Ping'an, he felt like this young boy wasn't worthy of someone like Ning Yao.

In fact, even a hundred Chen Ping'ans might not be worthy of Ning Yao.

Chen Ping'an asked for the remaining half a jar of Forgetting Sorrow Wine. There was just enough for two large bowls, so Chen Ping'an poured each of them half a bowl first.

The two of them sat side-by-side on a long bench. Ning Yao didn't feel like this was wrong.

Meanwhile, Xu Jia hid in the distance and clicked his tongue in wonder.

Chen Ping'an took a sip of Forgetting Sorrow Wine.

He suddenly felt like this wine tasted much better than last night, so he turned around and smiled at Ning Yao.

Ning Yao shot a glare at him.

The two of them didn't speak, and they continued to drink small sips of wine.

"Ning Yao, you're not fake, are you?" Chen Ping'an suddenly asked in a pitiful voice.

The old shopkeeper playing with the caged oriole couldn't help but chuckle after hearing the young boy's stupid remark.

Ning Yao heaved a faint sigh.

He's an idiot, but I'm an even bigger idiot.

After all, who claimed that he would definitely find a scatter-brained wife in the future?

Chen Ping'an put his wine bowl down and extended a hand toward the young girl. Ning Yao looked at him, and she wanted to know what in the world he was trying to do.

Chen Ping'an pinched her cheek with two fingers and gave it a gentle tug.

Ning Yao didn't move.

Chen Ping'an raised his other hand and pinched the other side of Ning Yao's cheeks.

Beads of cold sweat formed on Xu Jia's forehead when he saw this. He was sure that this audacious young boy was about to be beaten to death.

However, Ning Yao simply swatted Chen Ping'an's wandering hands away and warned, "Chen Ping'an, if you continue to be so scatter-brained, then be careful of making me lose my temper."

Chen Ping'an retracted his hands and said, "Everything's good as long as you're real."

Ning Yao drank a large mouthful of wine and asked, "You should know that my parents have already passed away. Do you think I'm pitiable?"

Xu Jia felt like the young boy would definitely be done for this time if he dared to say yes.

"Of course you're pitiable," Chen Ping'an replied without hesitation. "If losing one's parents isn't considered pitiable, then how much does one have to suffer before they're considered pitiable?"

However, after saying this, Chen Ping'an's lips were tightly pursed and slightly downturned.

He appeared even more upset than the young girl.

He wasn't taking pity on the young girl in front of him. This was because he had also lost his parents. Moreover, he had lost them at an even younger age. Young and unable to make ends meet, he had been forced to beg for help and kindness when he could no longer keep himself alive. He had been left with no other option. Otherwise, he would have truly died.

After growing up, however, he could already live a decent life without needing pity from others. Moreover, he even had the ability to repay others for the kindness they had shown him during his difficult childhood. Thus, he was simply feeling care for her.

However, Chen Ping'an hadn't been able to stop himself from replying as he had.

Ning Yao humphed coldly and asked, "Who are you? Do I need your pity?"

Chen Ping'an blinked after hearing this.

Ning Yao flushed a slight shade of red and stomped on Chen Ping'an's foot under the table.

Xu Jia was dumbfounded by what he saw. He felt like a great sword immortal had stabbed his heart several times.

Afterward, the two of them drank wine and chatted quietly.

Xu Jia felt like he was getting stabbed again and again.

He couldn't live like this anymore.

And thus, he left the wine shop and carried a small stool with him to sit outside the door threshold. Out of sight, out of mind.

However, he couldn't help but turn around and steal glances at the young girl's slender eyebrows. There was no longer a sense of grief lingering on them like the first time they had met, and there was surprisingly a hint of playfulness and warmth instead.

The sword piercing through his heart was no less mighty than A'Liang's full-power strike.

Afterward, he saw the young boy from the Great Li Empire smiling widely with a gentle expression in his eyes. He seemed to be saying that he liked Ning Yao, and that his feelings for her had nothing to do with the two worlds. He liked her as a person, simple as that. Even as an outsider, Xu Jia had to concede that they looked like a good match for each other right now.

That being the case, the sword piercing through his heart was equivalent to the legendary city-saving strike unleashed by that old great sword immortal.

Xu Jia turned to the old shopkeeper and wailed in grief, "When is Young Mistress going to return? I miss her to death."

"To death?" the old shopkeeper asked. "You can die anywhere as long as it's not in my wine shop."

Right at this moment, Xu Jia suddenly became happy again. After that young boy of a similar age knocked on the "door" outside, he immediately went over to open the "door" and welcomed him inside.

An extremely handsome young boy walked in.

Xu Jia smiled and asked, "Why have you returned from the Sword Qi Great Wall?"

There was a warm smile on the face of the handsome young boy dressed in white, and he greeted Xu Jia with a high-five before turning to the old shopkeeper and saying in a loud voice, "Shopkeeper, same rules as always. I want a jar of wine, and you can count this toward my master's tab."

The old shopkeeper also smiled when he saw this young boy.

In fact, almost all elderly people would take a liking to this glowing young boy who appeared much like a rising star.

Moreover, since he was still young, they needed to cherish this opportunity to peer down at him while they still could. After all, it wouldn't be long before they lost this opportunity.

On the wall, the young boy's master had just written a peerlessly domineering remark not long ago — "The Martial Dao can ascend higher."

The young boy smiled at Xu Jia and said, "Xu Jia, I'm going to write something on the wall first. Prepare a calligraphy brush for me. Mhm, I'm going to write something next to Master's words."

The feeling of gloom in Xu Jia's heart was immediately swept away. He ran over to grab a calligraphy brush for the handsome young boy, and he didn't forget to turn around and chuckle, "Alrighty, just give me a second."

The handsome young boy kept his gaze fixed on Chen Ping'an and Ning Yao as he walked toward the tall wall.

However, it was a shame that Ning Yao only took a quick glance at him before turning her attention back to Chen Ping'an. She continued to chat about the Sword Qi Great Wall with him.

The handsome young boy smiled after he arrived in front of the tall wall. He carried a stool over, and he wrote a few characters above those written by the female imperial preceptor of the Great Duan Empire — "It will ascend even higher because of me."

Chen Ping'an quietly retracted his gaze. He lowered his voice and asked, "Who is that? He looks very impressive."

Ning Yao carefully thought about this for a moment before replying, "I forgot his name."

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