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Heyyy everyone, here's the chapter! Even though technically it's Tuesday where I am, I hope it's still Monday for the majority…heh.
Something to know:
-Divine soul 元神: When a cultivator reaches the Demigod 化神 stage, their nascent soul dissipates, and a divine soul forms in its place. In the SWIYBR universe, if you see a cultivator with a 'divine soul', this cultivator is Demigod-level and above.
(Translation of this concept, or the stage at which cultivators possess this, may differ in other novels. Use this for SWIYBR only)
C18. Going A Different Way
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"Inner demons?" Chen He was horrified.
It was like how mortals would experience illness in their lifetime. Some were hardly worth considering, some would pass after some rest and recuperation, and some could cause people to lose their lives. One could not predict when inner demons would strike, and one would not know how inner demons might torment them.
There had been people in the cultivation world who had never been plagued by inner demons at all, cultivating without any problems until they ascended. There were also esteemed elders from large sects, with superior cultivation bases and outstanding status, who had suffered Qi deviations and passed away during closed-door cultivation.
Inner demons were difficult to describe, and were much more difficult to escape from.
Seeing Shi Feng's twisted brows and pale face, Chen He asked nervously, "Senior Brother, how are you now?"
After adjusting his breaths a few times, Shi Feng still felt as if his chest was congested and stuffy. He knew he was still trapped too far in the fantasy.
The Silence Meditation focused on not creating karma, doing as few sinful deeds as possible, and if the requirements were made stricter, the practitioner was not even allowed to write words. In the fantasy, Shi Feng was willing to pass on the ways of his sect even if it meant his own demise; he scorned the divine order and his fate, destroying years of tranquil cultivation.
He nearly sank along with the fantasy. After various thoughts formed, his emotions became agitated, heavily injuring himself. It was not limited to his meridians; even his divine soul had been affected. Unconsciously, Shi Feng's brows knitted heavily.
The Redwinds Desert's reputation of being a land of ghosts was not just to fool the mortals. Even a Core Formation-stage cultivator would lose his life if caught in a sandstorm. Now he could not use his true essence whenever he wished, and Chen He's cultivation base was not strong. Additionally, in order to suppress the Stone-borne Flame's violent energy, Shi Feng had temporarily sealed it within Chen He's dantian, and it could only be released as Chen He's cultivation base increased.
"We can't stay here for long."
Looking all around him, Chen He said something that made Shi Feng's brows relax.
Shi Feng was still relieved that his junior brother was quick-witted and intelligent when he became stumped by Chen He's actions.
His junior brother made a careful movement with his hands, then tore two pieces of cloth from the corner of his robe, shielding his face with one piece and holding up the other piece towards Shi Feng.
"Someone pursued us all the way into the Redwinds Desert."
Chen He gestured behind him, "There were people who saw me in that tavern in Yunzhou City, but they aren't really troublesome. But what if Senior Brother gets recognised, and Senior Brother's enemies come find us too…We won't be able to return safely to Black Depths Valley."
Shi Feng was so amused by his junior brother being so serious that the corners of his mouth lifted slightly.
He did have serious internal injuries and a severe blow to the divine soul, but that was all. If cultivators were all unable to move after getting injured, then how about all those cultivators who were hunted by enemies or ambushed?
Not using true essence was only to allow the injuries to heal sooner, as using true essence would exacerbate injuries. But in this land, there were very few powerful individuals who would require Shi Feng to fight with his everything, and half of them were still in Black Depths Valley.
The six grandmasters of the demonic Dao, the Divine Master of Great Snowy Mountain, Gu King of the Miao Lands, the Master of Feiqiong Island in the East Seas—there was no way any of them would personally come out to chase a young man who had 'fortunately' obtained a Stone-borne Flame and was not even at the Core Formation stage, was there!
"Can Senior Brother still move?" Chen He asked anxiously, carefully scooting over.
Shi Feng nodded. It was not as if he suffered a Qi deviation.
Chen He took a step back. As if he had made up his mind, he said, "Senior Brother, let's go!"
After that, he turned around and crouched down, preparing to hold Shi Feng's arms.
—Shi Feng was a little stupefied; was Junior Brother planning to piggyback him?
Before he could refuse, Chen He urged, "Senior Brother, we've been delayed here for too long, there might be even more people catching up if we don't leave."
Shi Feng, who had never been piggybacked before in his entire life: …
Chen He wanted to urge more, but his palm was held by Shi Feng, being used to mark two words in the sand.
"Magic items?" Chen He's gaze lit up. Right, there were such things as magic items!
Cultivators usually used magic items or spirit tools to travel. How could he think Senior Brother had none just because he had never seen Senior Brother use any?
Shi Feng silently searched through his mustard seed storage pouch. He had been in Black Depths Valley for over twenty years, thus he had had no use at all for magic items.
When he carried Chen He to the Redwinds Desert, he had been worried that Chen He's cultivation base was low and the magic items' spiritual energy would affect him, thus he had not used any magic items. When he left the Beixuan Sect, he had not taken anything away with him, but Shi Feng was not that poor. However, it was a little difficult to find a magic item that someone at the Foundation Establishment stage would be able to use.
Seeing Chen He's expectant gaze, Shi Feng felt that he should just take out a random one and tell Chen He that he would not waste too much true essence even if he used a magic item, and that it was not a problem at all even if his injuries took two days more to heal.
Alas, when Chen He saw that his senior brother had not taken out any magic items even after a while, he reacted quickly.
"Wait, I've got an idea!"
Chen He dashed towards the pit without even looking back.
Granny Poison Scorpion lay unconscious at the bottom of the pit, with a swarm of scorpions crawling around her.
"She chased this fast, so there's probably some magic item that's good for speed! Got defeated easily by me, so she can't be any better than the Core Formation stage."
It was all right if he could not recognise magic items; he would get them first and work it out later.
"This absorbs spiritual energy, it's a magic item! This repels spiritual energy, it's also a magic item! Er—forget about the shoes."
The scorpions feared the aura of the Stone-borne Flame in Chen He's spiritual energy, crawling away in a panic.
Soon, Chen He returned to Shi Feng's side with his loot.
Two hair sticks, one jade waist pendant, one walking stick, and a dark-coloured snuff bottle.
Shi Feng thought stiffly that the Liquor-Wisdom Technique was not all-powerful after all. His junior brother's eye for magic items was poor to the extreme.
He took anything that reacted to spiritual energy, even the wooden hair sticks the old woman used to maintain a refreshed appearance. If he had met a young female cultivator instead, would he not have taken away the accessories that a female cultivator used to hide flaws in her appearance?
Shi Feng could not help but rest his forehead against his hand. Would such a junior brother be able to find a Dao companion in future?
The Beixuan Sect's fundamental techniques emphasised natural ways, such as heaven and earth, yin and yang, the four seasons; at least half the sect's people would search for Dao companions.
Before getting caught in the anxiety of whether or not his junior brother would be liked by female cultivators, Shi Feng came to an abrupt realisation.
Chen He had a bad fate, so he might as well forget about things like love and Dao companions! If his junior brother fell for some female cultivator, he even had to think of ways to stop Chen He from thinking about it.
Stupefied, Shi Feng took the snuff bottle from Chen He's hand.
With a light brush of his finger, Granny Poison Scorpion spat another mouthful of blood in the sand pit. Her connection to this magic item had been completely erased.
Chen He tossed the other objects away, taking the snuff bottle again. Relying on his instinctive ability to recognise amulets, he stroked it carefully.
"Oh, it's pretty easy!"
Magic items were all like this, and some even had the activation words carved on the magic item itself. Most cultivators would be able to use after studying the item, but it was not that easy to craft magic items.
Black smoke spewed continuously from the mouth of the bottle, causing winds to rise at once. Only then did Chen He think of an important question:
"Senior Brother, which direction is Black Depths Valley in?"
The hot sun was high in the sky, the sand stretching on for miles.
Quite a while later, there was finally some movement in the depths of the sand pit. Stirred by the sun's rays, Granny Poison Scorpion climbed out with great difficulty.
"Such a cruel young'un! The Wudu Sect…aiyo! The Wudu Sect won't go easy on you!"
Granny Poison Scorpion was dizzy and disoriented. After touching her head and finding that her wooden hair sticks were gone, and even her walking stick had disappeared, she nearly spewed another mouthful of blood. Luckily, after making a hand seal, she managed to recover all her items, except for the most precious one, the Thousand Mile Smoke-Storm Bottle.
"Young'un! You're heartless!" Granny Poison cursed, enduring her internal injuries as she climbed the sand dune and headed back.
She took only one night to come here, and now it was possible she would not return even after three days and three nights.
"Ay, if only I had listened to my good disciple!" Granny Poison Scorpion sighed as she continued to travel, beginning to hate Young Master Yao as well.
Granny Poison had lived for years in the Wudu Sect of the Miao territories, without ever having come to the desert. The wind was changing the geography of the sand dunes every moment, so she was completely oblivious that she was going the wrong way! Now she would have no hope of getting out even after half a month!
Chen He's injured meridians had not healed completely either. After using the magic item for less than four hours, his spiritual energy was starting to fail him.
Shi Feng signalled for his junior brother to stop; the latter put the magic item away, a little crestfallen. After the black smoke cleared, Chen he found himself standing on a tall desert poplar tree. Next to him were a few new branches, pale yellow and shaped like weeping willow leaves.
Chen He quickly lowered his gaze, following the arm he grasped tightly, and found Shi Feng on another branch.
"Senior Brother, this is my first time using a magic item." He could not be blamed for the problematic landing spot.
It was hard to tell if Shi Feng was smiling or not. He had already seen this desert poplar forest before the black smoke cleared, thus he had not notified his junior brother. Otherwise they could have fallen out of the air; in comparison, it would be better to stay in a tree.
"I retracted it too fast, my spiritual energy wasn't used right." Chen He hung his head, reflecting on his actions.
This place was not very far from the Redwinds Desert. The expanse of red was still visible in the distance.
The direction was off as well. At least there had been shingle beaches on the way they came, with no forests in sight.
"Who's on the tree!"
Between the leaves and branches, there came a holler from below the tree.
Chen He easily plucked away two of the arrows shot up at them. This patch of desert poplars was at least a century old, each tree as tall as ten men, and one was unable to put both arms around the trunk. Most of the arrows did not carry enough force, falling back down one by one.
Chen He looked at Shi Feng. The latter closed his eyes serenely, giving the appearance of someone who did not care about things.
"Come, let's burn this tree!"
Chen He felt his scalp go numb when he heard the word 'burn'. He still needed time to recover spiritual energy; it was easy to jump to other trees, but the people below could not see him, so they would probably burn it all anyway.
"Wait!" Chen He pushed the branches apart, shouting towards the bottom, "We're just passing by!"
Chen He had been taught by Shi Feng for over ten years. Although he was incapable of supernatural feats, he could easily see what was on the ground from higher places. Soon he had taken in all the sights within the forest: This was a procession of carriages transporting heavy goods, and the horses drawing the carriages were old and skinny. There were ten-odd men escorting the carriages; they carried daggers at their waists and bows and arrows in hand. Their faces were weathered by travel, their looks fearsome.
"We were attacked by a pack of wild wolves last night, and the entire caravan got lost. I managed to escape by climbing up the tree with Brother," Chen He said calmly and clearly.
Shi Feng nearly coughed out loud.
The people by the carriages were also astounded: There were many people who climbed trees after being chased by wolf packs, but to climb up so high was something that not even the chief's Persian cat could do.
Earlier, when they heard the sounds, they fired arrows towards the denser areas in the middle of the tree. No one had aimed for the top of the tree.
But they were really on the tree. Even if they had not climbed up, it was not as if they had dropped out of the sky.
"You two are skilful!" A middle-aged man with blade scars on his face raised his head, squinting.
After traversing the underworld for a long time, one would develop a better eye for things.
Desert poplars had tough branches and could remain standing even after they died, but it was quite a feat to be able to sit at the top of the tree where it was narrower, and still be able to transmit one's voice clearly to the bottom.
"No matter how good you are, it's no use. A pair of fists is no match for the mouths of a crowd…especially the mouths of a crowd of wolves," Chen He replied with interest.
"Where do the two of you wish to go? If you don't mind, you could follow this lowly one's caravan to Cangshi Town, which is not too far from here."
Chen He wanted to refuse when he suddenly remembered that some cultivators could track spiritual energy. Since his spiritual energy could not support him and Senior Brother using the magic item to return directly to Black Depths Valley, it would be nice if they could confuse their pursuers on the way too.
Seeing his junior brother deal with their 'pursuers' so confidently, Shi Feng decided not to say after all that he could tackle the pursuers with just one hand, even if he was heavily injured.
: Just a quick note, there are hairpins (long, narrow U-shape) and then there are hair sticks (a single long stick). Hairpins are a little fancier and are usually for ladies only; hair sticks are much more common (men and women, for all ages). In Chinese, it's 钗chai for hairpin and 簪zan for hair stick. The two are not interchangeable.
: MC said 双拳不敌众口, but the closest I found was 一嘴难压众口，双拳不敌四手, which means 'One mouth cannot suppress the mouths of a crowd; a pair of fists is no match for four hands'. Not sure if he messed up the saying or what. *sweats*
If you are seeing this text, you are NOT reading it on the original site. Head on down to lovelysweetdream 959085286 dot wordpress dot com to read the original!