This time, half of the students in the class failed the annual exam. With crying faces, they had no choice but to accompany the swords for another year. As for the others, they were finally able to leave the sword pavilion, waiting for Qin-zhenjun to teach them new sword Dao and techniques.
Everyone was looking forward to it but Qin-zhenjun happened to be a good instructor who preferred giving ‘surprises’ in a forceful manner.
At this moment, he was standing right in front of the dojo arena, saying aloud, “In addition to knowing the sword, the next priority for a sword cultivator is to raise the sword.”
Many people were excited, thinking that Qin-zhenjun was going to tell everyone about his sword raising experience. Who wouldn’t want to raise a sword to develop a consciousness or even a sword spirit?
As for the sword soul—let’s leave that as a dream.
Qin Yanzhi, “I believe everyone is no stranger to raising the sword. But the swords of the world are just like the people in the world—there are no duplicates. Even if there are similarities, each one is unique. Therefore, there are billions of methods to raise a sword. No one can point you to the ultimate correct path, but only with your heart.”
Everyone was stunned. They were not going to be taught how to raise the sword after all…
Qin Yanzhi, “If you think of recognizing the sword as the root, then raising the sword can be regarded as the stem, while the different types of sword techniques are the green leaves and flowers.”
Some people looked happy, thinking that Qin Yanzhi was going to impart some sword techniques, but he said instead, “Hence, the basic foundations of all sword techniques—slash, cleave, stab, slit, prod, thrust, swing—these 7 styles are the branches. The leaves fall easily but the branches are hard to wither. These seven styles seem ordinary, but they are the origin of sword Dao and encompass the laws of heaven and earth.”
Some students thought that Qin Yanzhi was going to force them to practice the seven styles, so he anxiously said, “Mountain Leader’s words are reasonable, but I wonder how long it’d take us to practice the seven styles before we can learn any sword techniques.”
Qin Yanzhi, “At the beginning of my sword training, I only focused on the 7 styles. I didn’t start on any sword techniques until I comprehended the Daoyi sword technique.”
Hearing this, Jing Yue was quite shocked. He knew that Qin Yanzhi was very talented, but it was only during the Foundation Establishment stage that he comprehended the Daoyi sword technique. In other words, in the nearly 20 years before his foundation was built, he only practiced the 7 styles?
Others were even more distraught—if a talent like Qin Yanzhi had to practice for such a long time, wouldn't they have to spend longer? They were heartbroken. They came to the academy because they wanted to learn something they haven’t seen before. Were they supposed to waste their time on the 7 styles now? They could totally practice this in private!
Many people wanted to ask if they could do both at the same time, but in the first class, Qin-zhenjun had made it clear that no objections were allowed, so they could only hold themselves back, each with a complicated expression.
Qin Yanzhi turned a blind eye and continued, “I know that there are people who want to learn some sword techniques and I won’t deny you. I’m making it clear today. For those who want to learn sword techniques from me, I’ll teach you to the best of my knowledge. Those willing to practice the 7 styles with peace of mind, there is no shortcut, only practiced familiarity, and I have nothing to teach. Well then, those learning sword techniques may take a step forward.”
Almost half of the people stepped forward without hesitation. Those who dithered asked, “If we practice the 7 styles, when will it be considered successful?”
If it took ten years or more, who would be willing to delay?
Qin Yanzhi, “You will know when the time comes.”
Such a profound reply was not the answer everyone wanted to hear. No one felt confident about it, so another group of people took a step forward.
Qin Yanzhi didn’t display any emotions, just glanced at the few remaining students, and said, “Have you decided?”
The students glanced at each other and someone asked, “Qin-zhenjun, if we decide to switch to learning sword techniques halfway, can we?”
Qin Yanzhi, “I can accept that you have different pursuits, but I don't accept giving up halfway.”
The student thought for a while, gritted his teeth, and took a step forward. Several people behind him hesitated for a moment and still made the same choice as him.
In the end, only Jing Yue remained on the same spot.
Qin Yanzhi's expression finally changed a little. He raised his eyebrows. “Are you sure?”
Jing Yue, “Yes, I am.”
His original intention was to learn the concept of swordsmanship. Also, he didn’t lack any sword techniques. Since Qin Yanzhi was willing to give him pointers, how could he give up everything?
Qin Yanzhi, “Even if I don’t have anything to teach?”
Jing Yue smiled and said, “Without the branches, how could there be leaves?”
His words were quite offensive. Many cultivators looked disapproving but could only grumble inwardly about him being pretentious. Not to mention that Qin Yanzhi was around, even if looking at Jing Yue’s identity alone, they dared not be disrespectful.
Qin Yanzhi looked at Jing Yue in silence for a long time and nodded. “In that case, I’ll be keeping an eye on you.”
Jing Yue, “…”
He felt cold all of a sudden.
In short, after that day, Jing Yue took a different path from the others, devoting himself to practicing the 7 styles.
While others learned various techniques in the dojo, he pitifully shrank in the corner and slashed from one side to the other. If there was a pause, or if one stroke was omitted, he could practically feel a frozen gaze sweeping over him, piercing icicles on his back.
Apart from practice, he still had to raise a sword.
He had no idea how to do that, but as Qin Yanzhi said, do it with his heart. In that case, he would do what he did with Ku Sheng, carrying the Mini Canglan sword with him wherever he went.
Seeing him like this, Meng Shan sympathized and said, “It’s indeed the right choice for not switching to sword Dao. You just gave away a sword and another came along. This is endless. Great, I’ll go study my talisman now.”
His eyes blazed. “I found a clue about the beast-suppression talisman for the wood sparrow now. I must refine it earlier than the others this time!”
Jing Yue gave him a thumbs up. “Work hard. I’m about to open a shop soon. If you can produce some talismans, you can put it up for sale in my shop.”
Meng Shan, “Is it ready?”
Jing Yue, “Almost.”
As soon as the annual exam was over, he asked Wang Xiaoli and Frostcloud Sect's steward in Bliss City to help him out. Although the beast-suppression talisman was very popular, there were many students in Nine Heaven Academy. Not everyone wanted spirit beasts and resources were limited. Moreover, opening a shop also made it easier for the people from the beast fortress to contact him directly.
Meng Shan, “Where is it? When is the opening?”
Jing Yue told him the venue and Meng Shan smacked his thigh. “Ah! Isn't that the shop Mauve Aurora Sect originally planned to rent?”
Jing Yue blinked. “What do you mean?”
Meng Shan, “When they obtained the method for the light-body talisman, they planned to rent a shop in Bliss City to sell it. They didn’t expect that you’d make the method public the very next day. The price of the talisman was greatly reduced and they made a loss, so they gave up the plan.”
Jing Yue couldn't stop laughing. If the Mauve Aurora Sect found out about the location of his shop, they would probably explode with anger.
Ten days later, on Whitehorse Street in Bliss City, a store specializing in talismans opened its doors to customers.
When this shop opened, there were neither gongs, drums, nor firecrackers. They just opened quietly like a thief in the night, and even the nearby stores took a long time before they discovered this new competitor.
The street bustled but few people walked into this store. Even if they entered, they would come out quickly, mumbling under their breaths, looking very dissatisfied.
“Shimei, there’s a shop specializing in talismans up ahead. Do you want to check it out?” A young man asked the woman next to him, who stood on her tiptoes and said, “Okay, let’s go and find out.”
The two were disciples of a small school in Central Continent. The girl was Tian Rui’er, with pretty good talents, already a level-6 Qi Refining stage at the age of 18. She and Zhou-shixiong came to Bliss City today because they heard someone here could refine beast-suppression charms for the wood sparrow, but only the shop belonging to Frostcloud Sect could contact the talisman maker.
She didn't know the exact location of that shop so she deliberately went to the busiest Whitehorse Street to inquire.
When they walked to the door, they discovered that the shop was very deserted. There were no other people in the shop except the shopkeeper and the staff.
The two looked at each other, a little puzzled.
The staff in the shop spotted them and immediately greeted them with enthusiasm. “Immortals, do you want to buy talismans? It’s our store opening day today and everything is going at 80% of the original price.”
Tian Rui’er felt even more bewildered at this. Normally, no matter how good the business, the opening day would always be very lively, right? But this store was empty. Could there be something weird about it? But when she noticed that the shopkeeper and the staff were all mortals, she shed her precautions and stepped into the store.
Once inside, she found that the shop was very elegantly decorated, with all kinds of furniture and decorations exquisitely crafted. Bonsais of pine and juniper were placed on the top of the cabinets, on the corners of the wall, and the edge of the windows. Bluegrass and flower vines hung on the walls. A small wooden frame stood on each side of the entrance with a pond filled with lotus and goldfish.
However, when Tian Rui’er glanced at the counter, she only saw a few charms sparsely stacked. She said in surprise, “Is this all you sell?”
The shopkeeper said without hesitation, “Our owner doesn’t know too many variations of talismans, only the commonly used ones.”
Tian Rui’er, “…”
She finally figured out why there was no one here…
Shopkeeper, “But we have two special talismans. One is the light-body talisman that can bring you ten feet off the ground and ten feet with every step. The other one is the beast-suppression charm especially refined for several spirit beasts.”
When Tian Rui’er heard about the light-body talisman, she didn’t care for it, thinking that the shopkeeper was spouting nonsense, but then her eyes widened. “You have beast-suppression talismans for the wood sparrow here?”
The shopkeeper smiled faintly. “Of course.”
“Hmph, what are you bragging about?” Zhou-shixiong sneered. “Who doesn’t know that the customized beast-suppression charms are refined by a disciple of Frostcloud Sect, and only the shop belonging to Frostcloud Sect could contact him? Are you saying this is the shop? Haha, just because there are many people in Bliss City buying talismans recently doesn’t mean you can start cheating and scamming people.”
The shopkeeper still smiled politely. “You are well-informed indeed. Yes, our boss is from Frostcloud Sect! These charms are already selling at a few hundred spirit stones apiece outside. We are only selling it at 200 in the store. Moreover, there is a discount today. You can take one for only 160 spirit stones.”
When he said this, Tian Rui’er and Zhou-shixiong were even less convinced.
Just at this moment, an iron armored spirit spider crawled out of Zhou-shixiong's arms and probed at one of the stacks of talisman.
Tian Rui'er was startled. This iron armored spirit spider was obtained by Zhou-shixiong with great difficulty. Usually, it was lazy and ignored everyone. Why did it take the initiative to come out today?
Shopkeeper, “Look, even the iron armored spider knows that our talisman is good stuff.”
Tian Rui’er subconsciously glanced at her senior, who had a weird expression and whispered, “Xiao-guai is really excited.”
(TN: Xiao-guai 小乖 = Little obedient)
Xiao-guai was the name given to the iron armored spider by Zhou-shixiong. Tian Rui’er suddenly thought of the rumors she had heard—this type of beast-suppression charm, once refined successfully, could arouse the emotions of wood sparrows even without activating it and attract them to approach. Wasn’t that the current situation?
She stirred and asked, “Is your owner really from Frostcloud Sect?”
Shopkeeper, “I wouldn’t dare deceive you. Besides, our shop is right here.”
Tian Rui-er, “What is that person’s name?”
The shopkeeper shook his head. “I don’t know. We are all hired by a middle person to take care of the shop.”
Tian Rui’er pondered for a moment and decided to take a gamble. She took out some spirit stones from her Qiankun pouch.
Zhou-shixiong tried to stop her but she said, “It only costs 160 spirit stones, which is very cheap. If it’s true, wouldn’t that be great for us? If it isn’t…”
She glanced at the shopkeeper with the corner of her eye and huffed.
The shopkeeper smiled calmly.
After Tian Rui’er and Zhou-shixiong bought the talisman and left, the shop became deserted again.
On the second floor of the teahouse opposite the shop, Wang Xiaoli, who specially requested for leave to go out, said to Jing Yue, “Jing-shidi, there are too few customers in the shop. Are you really not going to advertise it?”
Jing Yue took a sip of tea. “As long as we can make one transaction, the second transaction will follow, so why bother? Besides, I can’t do too much either. Let’s see.”
He wasn’t wrong. In the first two days, the shop was really empty. At most, some had the same idea as Tian Rui’er and decided to spend some money on a gamble. But on the fifth day, when the staff just opened the shop, he saw a crowd waiting at the door. Seeing him, they said anxiously, “Any beast-suppression talismans left?”
The guy rubbed his eyes and saw that many of these people were carrying spirit beasts. One of the girls was the first customer in the store. A wood sparrow on her shoulder seemed very close to her, so it looked like the bond was successful.
The man quickly congratulated her but these people ignored him and squeezed into the store, crowding around the counter with excitement.
“Wow, there’s a charm for the white-striped deer too.”
“Also for the Scorched Monkey! I heard it’s extremely difficult for them to recognize an owner. Where’s the shopkeeper? We want all of the talismans.”
“Who are you to buy everything? Such audacity!”
“You are not the boss. Why should I talk to you?”
Just as they were about to quarrel, another group of people broke through the door. These people were even more high-handed, saying as soon as they got in, “The Bigfish Clan will take all the talismans in the store!”
The employee was speechless. All the talismans in the store would be worth tens of thousands of spirit stones! He was hired temporarily and had no idea about the background of this shop’s owner. At first, seeing such ordinary talismans being sold at such high prices, he thought the owner was crazy. But what the hell was going on with these people clamoring to throw money at them?
While he was still in a daze, the customers started arguing again.
“Who cares whether you are big fish or little shrimp? First come, first served. Understand?”
“So what if you have money?”
“Money can do wonders. Only the poor will try to talk reason.”
Seeing the situation getting out of hand, the employee tried to calm them down, anxiously wondering why the shopkeeper wasn’t here yet. But before he could say a word, another group of people flocked to the shop and directly barked out the orders for many different kinds of beast-suppression charms.
At that moment, the staff felt a little dizzy and his head ached, and he wanted to apply for leave…
The commotion in the store finally attracted the attention of other people. People had a herd mentality. Even if the newcomers hadn’t figured out what was being sold in the store, they had started fighting for it. So everyone clamored for what they wanted and there was no end to it.
The staff originally dared not offend the customers, but at this time, his temper flared, his mind went blank, and he shouted, “Shut up and queue up!” He pointed at Tian Rui’er. “You! You came here first so you choose first!”
Tian Rui'er huffed triumphantly. Of course, the wealthy customers were dissatisfied. Before they could utter a word, the man took out a feather duster from nowhere, swept the dust-free counter, and said impatiently, “Do you still want to buy it? Then shut up!”
The wealthy guy was choked into subservient. Thinking of his purpose, he could only grunt grudgingly and line up obediently.
It happened to be a day off, so when Jing Yue led his little partner to inspect the business, he saw a long queue outside the store.
Wang Xiaoli said in admiration, “Jing-shidi is truly wise.”
Gu Xia and Zheng Bai, who came together, also looked in awe. Jing Yue said shamelessly, “This is nothing.”
Blue phoenix in his arms held its beak high, looking like it was the one being praised.
Several of them went to the teahouse opposite the shop and chose the same seats on the second floor by the window. Blue phoenix sprawled on the window edge and stared at the opposite side, so excited that the hair on its butt was trembling.
Gu Xia, “The talisman business is really easy to do but there are so many people. A-jing, you still have to cultivate. Can you manage this?”
Jing Yue, “It’s fine. Once all the talismans in the shop are sold, we will only accept advanced orders in the future. Anyone who wants a beast-suppression talisman must make a reservation half a year in advance.”
Zheng Bai, “Half a year? Isn’t that a little too long?”
Jing Yue raised his eyebrows. “Take it or leave it.”
Zheng Bai, “…”
Wang Xiaoli, who knew more about the inside story, said worriedly, “Jing-shidi, the idea of your beast-suppression talisman is different from the others but the refining technique is not special. Now that the shop has opened, the cultivators adept at talisman-making will ponder over it carefully and likely to catch some clues soon. Once they crack the false patterns or come up with a new talisman…”
Jing Yue, “You are absolutely right, so the beast-suppression talisman is not my main business. What I really want to sell is something else.”