Unsheathed - C.277 (1): Three Battles Between Fourth Tier Cultivators on the City Wall


C.277 (1): Three Battles Between Fourth Tier Cultivators on the City Wall

There was a spectacular array of items on the table.

These were Chen Ping'an's spoils, and they were also his cultivation treasures.

There was a high-grade snake gall pebble that Daoist Nun He Xiaoliang from Divine Edict Sect had returned to him back on the kun ship. There were also some ordinary snake gall pebbles that had already lost their luster.

There was the golden scholarly core that City God Shen Wen had given him in Colorful Garment Nation. Apart from this, there was also a small pile of golden and silver shards sitting next to it. The silver shards came from the gold statues of the scholarly official and the martial official, while the golden shards came from the gold statue of the illegitimate mountain god in Blusher Prefecture.

There was a seal made by a Heavenly Master of some previous generation from Mount Longhu, and according to Shen Wen's explanation, it could only unleash its full might when paired with the Five Lightning Righteous Technique of the Daoist Sect. However, what stuck in Chen Ping'an's mind was this: divine artifacts should only be wielded by those with virtue.

There was a small mountain of copper coins, grain rain coins, lesser heat coins, and snowflake coins.

There was a pile of small bamboo slips. Some of them were made from ordinary bamboo; however, the majority were made from the remaining bamboo after Wei Bo had finished constructing the bamboo house. This was bamboo from Azure Divine Mountain.

The bamboo slips were filled with famous quotes, poetry, and words of warning — there were sagely essays recited by Cui Chan while he had been practicing fist techniques with Chen Ping'an, there were characters that Li Xisheng had written on the walls of the bamboo building, there were extracts that Chen Ping'an had copied from travel journals, and there were phrases he had heard while traveling through the cultivation world...

There was a cockfighting cup that he had bought at a ferry station in Water Combing Nation. It wasn't anything valuable, but it was a rare purchase for Chen Ping'an.

There were the two golden dragon whiskers given to him by Sword Cultivator Zuo You, as well as the golden Dao robe and the old jewel that looked like a yellowing pill left behind by the elderly golden flood dragon after it was slain.

There was a white porcelain brush washer. Chen Ping'an had obtained it from the scorpion lady, an assassin from Ancient Elm Nation. In the end, he had decided against selling it at the Green Beetle Shop. This was because Chen Ping'an liked those lively and spirited characters decorating the brush washer.

There was the Proper Sword Scripture and a minimization treasure in the form of a jade tablet, both of which had been given to him by Zheng Dafeng in Old Dragon City.

There was a Confucian classic given to him by the Scholarly Sage, and a few travel journals and literary works he had obtained from the prefectural overseer's office in Blusher Prefecture.

There was a seal engraved with the characters "Tranquil Mind Begets Enlightenment."

There was the water seal that had lost its companion, the mountain seal, and now looked a little lonely.

Chen Ping'an placed this seal on the leftmost side.

Of course, there was also the Mountain Shaking Guide that had accompanied him for the longest time.

Ning Yao looked through the items and examined them one by one. In the end, she smiled and asked, "Are you giving all of this to me? You're not going to leave any savings for yourself?"

However, Ning Yao immediately felt a slight sense of annoyance and regret.

So what if he kept some private savings? She couldn't speak to Chen Ping'an in such a heartless manner in the future.

It was important to remember that this activity wasn't the same as cultivating the Sword Dao.

Chen Ping'an clearly didn't detect the deeper meaning behind Ning Yao's words, so he pointed at a few things and replied in a serious voice, "You already know about this Mountain Shaking Guide. It isn't mine, and I'm only looking after it for Gu Can, so I can't give it to you. I can't give you the seals from Mr. Qi either. I feel like it would also be inappropriate to give you the Heavenly Master Seal from the city god. Apart from these, you can take anything you want."

Ning Yao pursed her lips and said, "I'm not interested in them. You can keep them all."

Chen Ping'an slapped his forehead and untied the Sword Nurturing Gourd called Jiang Hu from his waist, placing it on the table. He then retrieved a talisman from his sword case, the one in which the female bone ghost was kept. After doing this, he explained, "This Sword Nurturing Gourd was an additional gift after I purchased a few mountains in my hometown. Mountain God Wei Bo helped me ask the Great Li Empire for it.

"There's a fairly ferocious female bone ghost living inside this talisman, and she signed a sixty-year contract with me after I received some help from Osmanthus Island. The talisman lives in my sword case right now, and Lady Gui said that this is called a 'locust residence'. When they stay inside such a residence, yin entities can nurture their souls and advance their cultivation. In other words, it's as if they're staying inside a small blessed land."

"Female bone ghost? Is she beautiful?" Ning Yao asked.

Chen Ping'an thought for a moment before replying, "Only so-so. She's not as beautiful as the female ghost in a wedding dress I met in the mountains, and that ghost isn't as beautiful as you."

"Chen Ping'an, since when did you become so glib of tongue? Did you learn this from A'Liang?" Ning Yao fumed.

Chen Ping'an smiled and shook his head, replying, "No, it's all from the bottom of my heart. Sincere praise and glib remarks are not the same."

"Then have you tricked many girls into falling for you?" Ning Yao asked with a chuckle.

After saying this, Ning Yao rested her arms and chin on the table and turned around to look at Chen Ping'an, who was much taller and slightly less tanned than before. She seemed slightly deflated, and she remarked, "I can no longer defeat 500 Chen Ping'ans with a single hand. Moreover, you've traveled across half of Eastern Treasured Vial Continent and you've come across many girls in many places, so perhaps many of them treated you as an immortal and ended up liking you."

Chen Ping'an hurriedly shook his hands and said, "No, there's no other girl who likes me. I was either dealing with violent enemies or interacting with people who are destined to be passing guests in my life."

When he finished saying this, Chen Ping'an also sighed and rested his arms and chin on the table. He lightly poked the Sword Nurturing Gourd with his finger and continued, "When I left home, I took a kun ship owned by Complete Reed Continent's Ceremony Mountain. I became acquainted with a pair of twin sisters there, one called Chun Shui and one called Qiu Shi. They were around the same age as me. However, the kun ship was destroyed afterward, so I might never see them again."

Chen Ping'an glanced at the unremarkable brush washer on the table.

It was only an arm's length away from him.

However, the twin sisters were already so far away.

Ning Yao didn't suspect Chen Ping'an of falling for the twin sisters, and she instead consoled him. "Death and farewells can't be avoided."

She turned her head and rested her cheek on the table, continuing, "At the Sword Qi Great Wall, many people die each time there's a battle, be they old or young, men or women. There will be strangers, but there will also be people you know. But there's no time to feel sad, or the next death will be yours. Only when the battle concludes can the survivors find the free time to grieve. Even then, people won't feel too sad. At most, they'll offer a cup of wine toward the south of the Sword Qi Great Wall. It's the same for everyone."

There was a deep and profound look in Ning Yao's eyes, much like the dark and cool Iron Lock Well in Chen Ping'an's hometown. "This is just like those small matters I told you about while we were drinking Forgetting Sorrow Wine in the blessed land before. When I drink farewell wine with my friends, there will be some people who like to speak in a taunting manner when they talk about my parents. You asked me if I would get angry. Of course I would get angry. However, I don't get as angry as outsiders think. Why? Do you know?"

Chen Ping'an looked her in the eyes. His cheek was also resting on the table, so he could only shake his head lightly.

"Because those people who speak in a taunting manner will also die on the battlefield one day," Ning Yao answered. "Moreover, they'll definitely die a courageous death just like their seniors and ancestors. When I think of this, I feel like I don't need to be so angry anymore. Their words are light and fluffy, and they're not even as heavy as the sword qi beside us. Perhaps there will come a day when I'll fight side-by-side with these people. Or perhaps one of us will save the other. Or perhaps one of us will helplessly watch on as the other is killed."

Chen Ping'an nodded before sitting up and shaking his head. "Ning Yao, your way of thinking..."

Ning Yao rolled her eyes and said, "I don't want to listen to your reasoning. You're not allowed to annoy me."

She could refuse to listen to other people's reasoning. Whether it was her elders or ancestors in the clan, the old great sword immortal on the city wall, A'Liang who had seen her off at Stalactite Mountain back then, or her friends who were the same age as her, she could ignore all of these people. However, if it was Chen Ping'an, then she could only listen to his reasonings and be annoyed by him. Thus, she was better off preventing him from starting in the first place.

Chen Ping'an nodded and put his cheek back on the table. Sure enough, he didn't expound the principles and reasonings that he had learned from the books with much difficulty.

Ning Yao suddenly sat up and asked, "Are you genuinely going to visit the Sword Qi Great Wall?"

Chen Ping'an also sat up, nodding and replying, "The old senior who taught me fist techniques said that ascending the city wall will be beneficial for tempering the souls of martial artists. One can reap huge benefits as long as they don't die. Moreover, for some strange reason, I have the illusion that I can easily advance from the fourth tier to the sixth tier after drinking Forgetting Sorrow Wine with that couple. It's as if I can easily advance if I want to.

"However, I naturally won't be so foolish as to advance like this. A single misstep that leads to a lacking foundation, and my entire future might be ruined. However, my intuition tells me that after drinking that fine wine from Golden Millet Blessed Land, advancing to the fifth tier and the sixth tier will be a breeze."

Ning Yao grabbed the Sword Nurturing Gourd and casually swung it back and forth. Her lashes shuddered slightly, and she said, "Then you should thank them sincerely for giving you such a good fated opportunity."

Chen Ping'an nodded and replied, "Of course. I'll see whether I can come across them again when I go to the Sword Qi Great Wall."

Ning Yao thought for a moment, but she ultimately decided against saying anything.

Chen Ping'an felt slightly uneasy, and he asked, "I was dragged over to the Sword Qi Great Wall by someone before, and the feeling there was far too unbearable. I'm afraid that I won't even be able to stand up properly there. That being the case, how will I ascend the city wall?"

"It's not as exaggerated and terrifying as you imagine," Ning Yao explained. "The city wall has always experienced the strongest and most concentrated sword qi. If you enter from Stalactite Mountain and walk toward the city wall from there, you'll be able to advance slowly and gradually become accustomed to the environment. It will feel much less uncomfortable.

"The Sword Qi Great Wall is a bit similar to the heavens beyond heavens that Heavenly World faces. It's a land without Dao, and even Ascension Tier sword cultivators at the 13th tier won't be forced to ascend. No one cares about our life and death, and even the Heavenly Dao doesn't care about this place.

"Because of this, many sword cultivators from the outside world like to come here to train and participate in the battles. Back when you were in Jewel Small World, the large group of sword cultivators you saw in the sky were Qi refiners from Complete Reed Continent. With their help, the demon tribe has seemingly failed to make any gains after launching three consecutive assaults.

"The demon tribe left tens of thousands of corpses on this city wall, and all of this became currency for us to purchase goods from transcontinental ships docked in Stalactite Mountain. However, I have a feeling that things aren't so simple. I'm sure that Grandpa Chen, the person who dragged you over to the Sword Qi Great Wall, as well as the two sages guarding this area can see this more clearly than me.

Ning Yao smiled and continued, "The higher one's cultivation base, the more unaccustomed one will be when they enter someone else's territory. This is especially the case for cultivators at the Upper Five Tiers, and it's the same regardless of whether one is from the human race or demon tribe. This is the key reason why sages are able to enjoy the advantages of opportune time and geography in their own territories.

"For example, when Daoist Branch Master Lu Chen from Heavenly World entered Majestic World before, his highest possible cultivation base was most likely the 13th tier. This was a rule implemented by the Etiquette Sage very early on. The same also applies when Confucian sages from Majestic World enter Heavenly World.

"There is competition between the sages when it comes to the Great Dao, but this doesn't mean that the sages don't respect each other. You might not believe this, but there are also individuals in the demon tribe who deserve the respect of us sword cultivators. Of course, these individuals are still enemies whom we must fight to the death on the battlefield. By the same token, there are many great demons in the demon tribe who also respect and admire some powerful sword cultivators from the Sword Qi Great Wall.

"Anyone who isn't a sword cultivator will find it very difficult to stay on the Sword Qi Great Wall. For example, martial artists like you and Qi refiners from the Hundred Schools of Thought. These people might obtain profound fated opportunities, but it's much more likely that these people will have the foundation of their Great Dao ground into ruins by the sword intent.

"There are two examples of this. There was once an Abode Tier[1] sword cultivator from Complete Reed Continent who came here and eventually advanced to the Immortal Tier[2]. However, there was also an Immortal Tier cultivator from Circling Ascension Continent who came here and failed to find his Dao attainment catalyst. Not only that, but they fell to the Nascent Tier[3] in a single breath."

"A'Liang taught me the Eighteen Stops Qi Channeling Technique," Chen Ping'an suddenly said.

Ning Yao faltered for a moment before saying, "He treats you quite well. Over at the Sword Qi Great Wall, only sword cultivators who have made great contributions have the right to teach this Qi channeling technique to someone else. Almost all of them teach the technique to their most prized disciple or the successor of their clan.

"However, don't get too ahead of yourself. Passing down the Eighteen Stops Technique is more of a ritual than anything else. In some sense, we're saying that the future generations at the Sword Qi Great Wall will always inherit and remember the sword intent of the earliest sword immortals. In reality, the Eighteen Stops Technique can't be considered a top-notch Qi channeling sword technique.

"The large clans in the city to the north all have genuine top-notch sword techniques. The Chen Clan's sword technique can strengthen bones, the Dong Clan's sword technique can cleanse marrow, the Qi Clan's can temper souls, the Ning Clan's can sharpen bonded swords, the Yao Clan's can nourish sword qi, the Nalan Clan's can enable complementary sword qi and sword intent, and so on.

"All of these sword techniques are so top-notch that they're unimaginable in the eyes of sword cultivators from Majestic World. Regardless, it's a good thing that you've learned the Eighteen Stops Technique. This will allow you to acclimatize to the environment of the Sword Qi Great Wall quicker."

Chen Ping'an cracked a grin.

"Judging by the time, you've already been practicing this technique for almost two years. How many stops have you reached?" Ning Yao asked casually. "Fifteen? Sixteen? At least twelve, right? After that, it will become a bit different from before. Each stop will be more difficult to reach and overcome. You didn't grow up at the Sword Qi Great Wall, so it's only natural for you to be a bit slower.

"One of my friends, the fatty, took eight months to reach all eighteen stops. Little Dong was slightly more talented, and it only took him half a year to reach all of them. The others all took around nine months to a year. However, Little Dong's older sister was quite impressive, and she only took three months to reach all eighteen stops. It's just that the Dong Clan has always been trying to hide this information. They're not willing to reveal the truth to outsiders.

"Among those at the Sword Qi Great Wall around the same age as me, thirty or so have mastered the Eighteen Stops Technique. Because of this, our generation is regarded as the best generation at the Sword Qi Great Wall for the past three thousand years. The seniors all say that as long as we're given another fifty or sixty years, the demon tribe won't be able to see the top of the city wall of the Sword Qi Great Wall for the next thousand years."

Chen Ping'an looked on with a dazed expression.

He had gone through so many challenges and hardships to finally reach the seventh stop with much difficulty. Then, after surging to the twelfth in a single go, he was now stuck between the twelfth and thirteenth acupoints. It was as if he were standing in front of a mountain path blocked by heavy snow, and there seemed to be little hope that he could advance any further.

After noticing Chen Ping'an's expression, Ning Yao stopped and said, "Then I won't mention myself."

"How long did it take you?" Chen Ping'an asked in a tentative voice.

"Heh," Ning Yao chuckled with a fake smile.

1. Sixth tier ☜

2. 12th tier ☜

3. 10th tier ☜

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