Unsheathed - C.278 (1): No Second in Martial Arts; Fist Beyond the Heavens


C.278 (1): No Second in Martial Arts; Fist Beyond the Heavens

After completing the final battle, Cao Ci and his master bade farewell and took their leave. The two of them were most likely leaving the Sword Qi Great Wall and returning to the Great Duan Empire in Middle Earth Divine Continent.

Before leaving, Cao Ci turned to Chen Ping'an and asked, "Chen Ping'an, can you help me look after that cottage before you return to Stalactite Mountain?"

Chen Ping'an wiped the sweat from his forehead and replied with a smile, "No problem."

This was a unique act of goodwill from Cao Ci.

The figures of the handsome young boy in white and the martial goddess became smaller and smaller as they left along the carriageway on top of the great wall.

"I'm about to retract the small world," the old sword immortal warned Chen Ping'an.

Chen Ping'an nodded in acknowledgment, signifying that he was okay.

The old sword immortal casually retracted the small world and its accompanying restrictions, allowing the permeating sword qi to instantly surge over in a vicious manner. Chen Ping'an's soul shuddered, and he suffered noticeable injuries. As a result, he could only assume the stance of standing meditation to resist the sword qi.

After standing there for two hours, Chen Ping'an was finally able to move again. He arrived near the southern parapet with Ning Yao, and she asked, "Are you alright?"

"These injuries are nothing," Chen Ping'an replied with a shake of his head.

Ning Yao frowned and pointed at her heart, asking again, "I mean here."

Following the direction of the young girl's slender and beautiful finger, Chen Ping'an stared at her heart and didn't retract his gaze for a long time.

Ning Yao eventually rewarded Chen Ping'an with a smack to the head.

Chen Ping'an scratched his head and hurriedly made amends, saying, "My heart and mind are even more unaffected."

A man's head and a woman's waist — one couldn't be smacked, and one couldn't be touched.

However, Chen Ping'an naturally didn't dare to say this out aloud.

Ning Yao leaned against the parapet and asked in anxiousness, "Are you really okay?"

Chen Ping'an had lost three times in a single day; he had lost as comprehensively as possible.

The first time, Chen Ping'an and Cao Ci had sparred using fist techniques. There had been some kind of tacit understanding between them, and they had both fought using very pure fist techniques. However, it was as if Chen Ping'an's punches would always be a beat slower than Cao Ci's punches.

This wasn't to say that Chen Ping'an's fist techniques were lowly. In fact, it was the complete opposite, and even the spectating martial goddess had nodded several times when she saw the Deity Drumming Technique, Rain Evaporation Technique, and other techniques that Cui Chan's grandfather had taught him.

Meanwhile, Cao Ci had appeared far too leisurely and carefree. He had moved around casually, and he had seemingly managed to predict all of Chen Ping'an's movements. Chen Ping'an's punches and kicks had seemingly landed exactly where Cao Ci wanted them.

In the end, Chen Ping'an had failed to hit Cao Ci a single time.

Both the old sword immortal and Ning Yao had felt like one battle was enough. This time, however, it was the female martial goddess who had smiled and suggested another battle. Moreover, Chen Ping'an was allowed to unleash his full power rather than just relying on his fist techniques.

During the second battle, Chen Ping'an had summoned his flying swords First and Fifteenth to help him. In fact, he had even unleashed several talismans.

However, he had still been a bit slower than Cao Ci's movement techniques. Not by much, but still by a beat.

While spectating the second battle, even Ning Yao had felt a sense of exasperation and helplessness for Chen Ping'an.

Their battle had been like a game of Go between two ninth-rank Go masters, where a strong ninth-rank Go master defeating a weak ninth-rank Go master wouldn't seem strange at all. However, if the former defeated the latter by half a piece every time, then the gulf between the two was perhaps very large.

The last battle had been requested by Chen Ping'an himself, and Cao Ci had nodded and agreed to his request.

During the third battle, Chen Ping'an had started to change his tactics.

Rather than fighting with Cao Ci, he had looked to be fighting with himself. He had forcefully modified the stances of his fist techniques. Regardless of whether it was the Deity Drumming Technique or the Heavy Cavalry Formation Shattering Technique, these were all "immortal techniques" that Cui Chan's grandfather had refined after countless trials and battles. Thus, Chen Ping'an's attempt to modify them during battle had naturally made him look uncoordinated and self-sabotaging.

As a result, Cao Ci's punches had become more than just a beat faster than Chen Ping'an's punches. There were many times when Cao Ci had shattered Chen Ping'an's fist intent at the early stages or middle stages of Chen Ping'an's fist techniques. In the end, Chen Ping'an had suffered his worst loss of the three battles.

However, the three spectators — including Ning Yao who was an outsider to martial arts — had eventually determined that Chen Ping'an's general direction of modification was correct.

At the end of the day, the critical difference between the two youths was the foundation of their fourth tier cultivation base.

After the third battle, Cao Ci had raised a thumb at Chen Ping'an and said three words, "Keep at it."

If it weren't Cao Ci, and if his opponent weren't Chen Ping'an, then perhaps everyone would have felt like Cao Ci was provoking his opponent and boasting about his victory. Or perhaps he was acting haughty and peering down at his defeated opponent.

However, Cao Ci's calm demeanor and Chen Ping'an's stable mental state couldn't change the reality.

They were both fourth tier martial artists, yet Chen Ping'an had undoubtedly become Cao Ci's defeated opponent.

It was because of this that Ning Yao, someone with a clear sword heart and an intense aura, had asked him if he was alright. She was afraid that Chen Ping'an had lost the fourth battle.

The invisible battle between their minds.

Once his martial mind was suppressed and crushed by Cao Ci, it was very likely that Chen Ping'an would find it incredibly difficult to reach the seventh tier in his lifetime, to say nothing of the End Tier of martial arts.

Fortunately, Chen Ping'an said he was okay.

Ning Yao believed him.

Chen Ping'an wasn't afraid of death, and she already knew this from their time together in Jewel Small World. He had almost died at the hands of the Mountain-moving Ape, and he had almost exchanged lives with Ma Kuxuan in order to save her.

However, not being afraid of death didn't imply not being afraid to lose.

When Chen Ping'an was poor, he was already down, so he didn't need to fear another fall. However, when Ning Yao saw his table of treasures in Stalactite Mountain's Stork Inn, she realized that Chen Ping'an had already become fairly wealthy. Moreover, his martial arts potential was also quite impressive.

Thus, Ning Yao was afraid that Chen Ping'an would get hung up on certain things.

Fortunately, this wasn't the case.

The two of them sat side-by-side on the south-facing parapet.

Ning Yao placed her new and old swords on top of each other on her knees. Meanwhile, Chen Ping'an's sword case, which only had the locust wood sword inside, stayed on his back.

In reality, Ning Yao felt like the name Subduing Demons was pretty tacky. However, when she remembered there was a sword named Eliminating Fiends in Chen Ping'an's sword case, she decided not to make a fuss about this with him.

Chen Ping'an placed his fists on his knees and leaned slightly forward. Several hundred kilometers in front of them, there were countless encampments of the large demon army. They were like countless nests of ants. According to Ning Yao, the canyon would be teeming with demons every time their army attacked the Sword Qi Great Wall. However, the sky above the demons would also be flooded with flying swords.

When Chen Ping'an and Ning Yao were with each other, they would talk about whatever came to their minds.

They talked about the old sword immortal, Grandpa Chen, and about Cao Ci and the martial goddess, as well as Middle Earth Divine Continent's Great Duan Empire where they came from. They also talked about the Heavenly Master from Mount Longhu, who possessed one of the four great immortal swords.

Upon the mention of immortal swords, they naturally started to talk about the Daoist second disciple who had the title of True Invincible. This was because his immortal sword was named "Daoism is Loftier than the Mortal World". Afterward, they talked about Stalactite Mountain which was controlled by the Daoist second disciple, and their conversation eventually returned to the Sword Qi Great Wall as well as Chen Ping'an's fist techniques.

Their conversation took many twists and turns, and they talked about whatever they wanted to.

Chen Ping'an had never sat in a place with such a wide field of view before. This was the same case for his mind.

It was as if he were sitting face-to-face with an entire world.

Chen Ping'an couldn't help but say, "In the very beginning, I practiced fist techniques for the sake of staying alive. After I no longer needed to worry about my lifespan, I started to ponder why I was practicing fist techniques. For the first time, I felt like my fists definitely needed to be very quick. My fists needed to be quicker than anyone else's.

"Afterward, I felt like my fists didn't necessarily need to be the most powerful. However, they definitely had to be the most reasonable. Because of this, I read many books and sought knowledge from many people. I learned morals and social etiquette from others, and I told those beside me to inform me if I did anything wrong."

Chen Ping'an grabbed his wine gourd and drank a mouthful of wine. There was slight helplessness in his voice as he continued, "When I speak reason with others, my ultimate hope is that they'll also speak reason with me. It isn't because I feel like my principles and reasons are definitely correct. However, during my long trip to this place, it was a shame that many people weren't even willing to entertain the idea of speaking reason.

"Official garb, esteemed surnames, immense wealth, and lofty cultivation bases — perhaps these things can all save a lot of worry and effort. Many people are convinced that these things are sufficient as their reason."

Chen Ping'an suddenly thought of Sword Cultivator Zuo You, the man whose sword techniques were unparalleled in the world.

It seemed like Sword Cultivator Zuo You, Mr. Qi's senior brother, also had a strong dislike for speaking reason.

However, there was a fundamental difference between the two. One type of people purposely committed evil, while one type of people didn't bother others if they weren't bothered. If others did bother them, however, then the botherers could only accept their miserable fate when they were punished.

Thus, Zuo You had chosen to distance himself from the human world.

Moreover, he had said something that roughly meant that cultivators... couldn't be regarded as humans anymore. Instead, they had already adopted a different state.

Chen Ping'an only understood the literal meaning of Zuo You's words, and he didn't understand the deeper implications behind them. However, he felt like these words were very hefty and solemn.

Chen Ping'an turned around and smiled at Ning Yao, saying, "Of course, if my fist techniques, and also my sword techniques in the future, can become the quickest and even quicker, then that's naturally the best!"

Chen Ping'an handed his Sword Nurturing Gourd to Ning Yao before standing up and starting to slowly throw punches. He aligned his punches with the Eighteen Stops Technique taught to him by A'Liang.

A'Liang had once said that his Eighteen Stops Technique was slightly different.

Ning Yao frowned and asked, "Chen Ping'an, apart from practicing your fist technique so many times every day, you also have to think about all of these random things?!"

"I just think about these things casually," Chen Ping'an replied.

There was a wide smile on his face, and his movements were carefree and slow as he threw punch after punch. However, his punches weren't lazy, but rather smooth and natural.

Ning Yao turned around to look at Chen Ping'an whose fist intent was like murmuring water. "Then have you ever considered this? What if thinking about all these things inhibits your martial arts cultivation speed? That Cao Ci definitely doesn't think about so many things."

Chen Ping'an didn't stop, and he chuckled, "He's a prodigy! Moreover, he's definitely the most impressive type of prodigy. However, I'm not a prodigy, so I need to think more and do more at each step of the way. I'm a mere mortal, and even you called me a country bumpkin just then.

"Because of this, it's necessary for me to reach a state of 'not wrong' at each step of the journey. Afterward, I can reach a state of correct, very correct, and most correct. I can't be too hasty. When I was molding pottery and firing pottery in the past, I would often sit there for entire afternoons at a time. Only by not making any mistakes could I ensure a quality piece of pottery. This is a very simple principle."

After saying this, Chen Ping'an habitually asked, "Right?"

"Simple?" Ning Yao retorted.

Chen Ping'an was slightly puzzled, and he asked, "Is it not simple?"

Ning Yao took a sip of wine from the Sword Nurturing Gourd and sidestepped the question, saying, "Simple is good."

Chen Ping'an no longer followed the Mountain Shaking Guide or the fist stances taught to him by Cui Chan's grandfather. Instead, he followed his heart and allowed his fists to lead him forward. There was nothing weighing on his mind.

A brief pause now and then, and a flurry of movements followed by a period of slow action.

Chen Ping'an was completely immersed in this.

My bonded porcelain is shattered, and my bridge of immortality is destroyed.

Once upon a time, I practiced fist techniques simply to keep myself alive. In the end, however, I've still made it here and I've still managed to find you.

I, Chen Ping'an, feel like I'm very amazing!

Chen Ping'an's fists became quicker and quicker, so much so that his sleeves billowed and flapped audibly in the wind.

When I was sitting on the golden bridge in the sea of clouds back then, Big Sister Immortal told me that I definitely couldn't betray Mr. Qi's hopes in me. She only chose me in the beginning because she chose to believe Mr. Qi. It was because of this that she was willing to gamble on that tiny sliver of hope with him.

A one-in-ten-thousand hope... That one exists, and I am that one. This is enough!

On the city wall, Chen Ping'an's fists suddenly went from quick to slow. However, this change in pace didn't seem jarring at all.

He moved sideways, and he continued to throw punches at Savage World to the south. All of a sudden, his fists went from slowest to quickest again, causing the wind around him to whistle.

Cui Chan's grandfather had once uttered very proud words, saying that he wanted all of the martial artists in the world to feel as if he were the paramount heaven when they saw his punch!

As if answering a question in his mind, Chen Ping'an roared with laughter and exclaimed, "Alright!" as he threw a punch.

Ning Yao opened her mouth slightly.

Was this still Chen Ping'an?

In a rare display, Ning Yao felt a little emotional and sentimental. After drinking a mouthful of wine that tasted like anxiety, she extended a hand and complained, "Chen Ping'an, I can't defeat many of you with a single hand anymore."

Chen Ping'an stopped his movements before squatting down and chuckling, "I won't fight back if you hit me."

Ning Yao rolled her eyes and said, "Are you still a man? If word of this gets out, then you'll become the butt of jokes not only in the Sword Qi Great Wall, but also in Majestic World."

Chen Ping'an's expression was firm and resolute as he promised, "If you're bullied by someone one day, then my fist will definitely be the quickest when I strike back, regardless of what martial arts tier I'm at!"

Ning Yao pointed to the south of the great wall and asked, "You won't be afraid even if the opponent is a great demon at the peak stage of the 13th tier?"

Chen Ping'an nodded in response.

Ning Yao pointed behind them and asked, "You won't be afraid even if the opponent is a sage from the Confucian temples in Majestic World?"

Chen Ping'an still nodded in affirmation.

Ning Yao pointed above and asked, "You won't be afraid even if it's the Dao Ancestor or Buddha?"

Chen Ping'an nodded again. After nodding, he said in a quiet voice, "Ning Yao, don't die on the battlefield."

Ning Yao turned around and didn't look at Chen Ping'an anymore. Holding the Sword Nurturing Gourd in her arms, she looked down at the 10,000-year battlefield beneath them and nodded with a resolute expression in her eyes. "I don't dare to guarantee that I won't die. However, I'll definitely fight to stay alive."

She suddenly laughed and said, "Chen Ping'an, you should also hurry up and strive to become the number one great sword immortal in the world!"

Chen Ping'an scratched his head and replied, "I can't guarantee this either. However, I'll definitely try my best!"

Chen Ping'an walked over and sat down next to Ning Yao.

His shoulder leaned against her shoulder.

Ning Yao was slightly embarrassed, so she gently nudged him as if trying to push him away. However, Chen Ping'an leaned over again and again.

Chen Ping'an's shoulder rocked back and forth just like that.

In the end, the two of them silently gazed toward the south.

One shoulder carried the hopes of Mr. Qi and Big Sister Immortal.

One shoulder carried the expectations of the girl he liked.

Even though it wasn't long grass and flying warblers, and it wasn't clear mountains and limpid waters...

Chen Ping'an felt like this was very good. It couldn't be any better.

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