First day of the New Year.
Emperor Chen did not appear on the tower to enjoy the festivities with the people. There were rumors that the emperor was sick. This news cast a shadow over the whole New Year's festival, especially the scholars in the inn, who couldn't help but worry about the upcoming Spring Exams.
That night, Jing Yue took Qin Yanzhi for a stroll around the surrounding vicinity of the imperial palace. He found that the entire palace was surrounded by an enchantment formed by magical power. It would be a little difficult to sneak in unnoticed and it would be bad to invite trouble. Jing Yue stood outside the gate of the palace and tweaked his fingers for divination. For some unknown reason, he suddenly chuckled and left with Qin Yanzhi.
After that, they just remained in the inn.
On the fifteenth, a lantern festival was held in the capital city as usual. The entire city was decorated with lanterns and the people took to the streets to admire the sight. Even the ladies who scarcely stepped out of the house dressed up on this day and enjoyed a rare time of relaxation.
In the crowd, Jing Yue carried little blue phoenix in his arms, held Lil Yanzhi with one hand, and Qin Yanzhi also carried a rabbit lantern in his hand.
Many people passed by from time to time, be it the rich and noble, or the poor and hungry. But tonight, they basked under the same starlight, enjoyed the same scenery, and even their mood may be the same satisfaction and tranquility.
The stalls on the street were full of lanterns of various colors and shapes, some so unique which even Jing Yue couldn't help but look twice. He thought inwardly that this was the beauty of being a mortal. They could always bloom in their limited lives and make it more exciting.
Suddenly, he felt the person next to him slowed down and he looked down. Qin Yanzhi was staring fixedly at a hawker selling candied haws. A father and son stood in front of the hawker. The father paid the money and handed the candied haws to the son in his arms. The son gave his father a bite, and both of them smiled contentedly.
Jing Yue only assumed that Qin Yanzhi wanted to try it too. Leading him over, he bought a stick of candied haws and handed it to Lil Yanzhi. The latter's eyes flashed with surprise but he didn’t eat it immediately. Instead, he held it high for Jing Yue to taste it first.
Jing Yue didn’t want to refuse his kindness so he bent down and bit one. At that moment, a soft and milky kiss fell on his face. Jing Yue was taken aback and saw Qin Yanzhi pursing his lips and looking at him shyly.
In his ten thousand years of memory, no one had ever kissed him before. The strange and unfamiliar feeling spread all over his body, every pore tingled, mixed with the sweet but not greasy candied haws in the mouth, he could hardly describe his emotions clearly.
Jing Yue rubbed Qin Yanzhi’s head. “Hurry up and eat it.”
Blue phoenix struggled in his arms and cried, “Shameless! Shameless! Jing-jing is mine! Jing-jing belongs to Ji-ji!”
After saying that, it flew on his shoulder, pecking and rubbing against him. Jing Yue waved blue phoenix away without hesitation. The latter complained sadly, “You’re playing favorites! Don’t you love Ji-ji anymore?”
Jing Yue, “…”
Blue phoenix burst into sobs, “Forget it! Ji-ji is just unlucky. Who hasn’t met a few scumbags when they were young?”
Jing Yue endured the demonic wails of the blue phoenix but Qin Yanzhi licked the candied haws in ignorance, smiling at him from time to time. The two were born with good looks and attracted a lot of curious or envious stares along the way.
When they passed a teahouse, they saw many people gathered outside, and the storyteller’s grandiose accent came intermittently, “It is said that Cihang Gate of the Five Great Immortal Mountains fought with Bodhisattva Yu in the Lingnan Desolate Mountains ten days ago and directly destroyed the five mountains. The mountains collapsed, the ground sank, and the waters from several upstream rivers poured. The original five mountains became five lakes.”
The people nearby listened with great interest. All of them knew that there were five immortal mountains in the world, five immortal gates in the mountains, and immortals lived in the gates. But they have never seen a real immortal. Even if the State Preceptor of Chen Kingdom had the ability to call forth the wind and rain, it was very different from the immortals in their imagination. Perhaps immortals were really just a legend.
But everyone had dreams of becoming immortal so most of the storytellers in the market and the teahouse would tell such stories.
During the years when Jing Yue searched for Qin Yanzhi, he more or less learned about the various forces in Haotian Realm. From various sources, he gathered that the five immortal gates were Tiangang Sect of Lion Mountain, Cihang Gate of Forgotten Mountain, Bodhisattva Yu of Happy Mountain, Bluecloud Valley of Hidden Mountain, and Tianshui Palace of Bigwave Mountain.
The five great immortal sects had grudges with each other and they were always fighting. If Jing Yue wanted to develop Mini Frostcloud Sect, the first he would face was Tiangang Sect in the west continent. Not only were there Golden Core experts in the sect, but also a group of elders at Foundation Establishment stage. At present, Jing Yue was still unable to face them head-on, but when he kept a low profile and reserved his strength, the five immortal mountains wouldn’t be a big problem.
The storyteller went into details about the fight between the two sects, describing the flying swords and magic treasures, mountains and seas of ice and fire, which drew the audience’s unanimous applause.
Just as he was about the reach the climax, the storyteller tapped the wood and said, “To find out what happens next, stay tuned for the next time!”
The audience booed but many people still paid for it contentedly.
At this time, Qin Yanzhi suddenly asked, “Is what he said true? Are immortals really that powerful?”
Jing Yue thought inwardly that the storyteller had probably made it up after hearing some gossips. “What he said is half-truth and half-exaggeration. Cultivators are not exactly immortals, but for mortals, they do have divine means.”
Thus, Jing Yue slowly told Qin Yanzhi about the various aspects of the big world. He said that there were seven continents in his hometown, and each continent was infinitely vast. There were many cultivators on land and countless sects, specializing in talisman, artifacts, alchemy, magic, swordplay, formation, and so on. When cultivators reached a certain point, not only could they move mountains and fill the sea, but also break the void.
Qin Yanzhi was obviously more interested in sword cultivation and asked many questions. Jing Yue said, “A powerful swordsman can recognize all the swords in the world and connect with ten thousand swords. Once you understand the origin of the sword and cultivate the soul of the sword, you can create all things with one sword, and break through all kinds of magic with one sword.”
Qin Yanzhi’s eyes blazed as if he saw himself becoming a sword immortal.
He pulled Jing Yue and said, “I want to visit your hometown too.”
Jing Yue, “Mm, we’ll go there someday.”
After two steps, Qin Yanzhi stopped again, “Jing-gege, do you think I can become a sword immortal?”
Jing Yue said with certainty, “As long as you put your heart into it, no one is more likely than you.”
At this time, the stars lit the way and the moonlight paved the ground, stretching the shadows of the two people into long lines, creating a different sense of warmth in the cold night.
And in a secret realm of the great world, the ‘original self’ Qin Yanzhi sat cross-legged in meditation.
Since Lil Yanzhi cried once, Big Yanzhi almost died of vomiting blood in shame before he came back strong. Thereafter, he felt that he had broken through the shackles called ‘shame’, renewed from the experience, and upgraded his state of mind.
Now, Qin Yanzhi could face the ‘other self’ in the Haotian Realm very calmly.
In fact, he only had very vague memories of his childhood. It was as if he was born to practice swords and only liked swords. What about earlier? When he didn't know anything about swords, did he also have the wishes that ordinary children have? Had he felt vulnerable and lonely?
Although Lil Yanzhi often did some things that made him ashamed, he could fully understand the other party's behavior of sticking to Jing Yue. After all, Lil Yanzhi and Jing Yue were both outsiders, and Lil Yanzhi had been awakened by Jing Yue, so he naturally had an innate closeness to Jing Yue, and only felt at ease and happy near him.
Furthermore, the Jing Yue of Haotian Realm treated Lil Yanzhi very well. It was unlike the affection from an elder to a junior, but more like relatives, so Lil Yanzhi had less awe and more dependence and yearning.
A trace of warmth ran through Qin Yanzhi’s heart. It was born of the ‘other self’ but affected the ‘original self’.
He skewed his head slightly and met Jing Yue’s scrutinizing gaze. Seeing that he had noticed it, the latter pointed to his own cheek and smiled modestly.
Qin Yanzhi's eyes remained calm and indifferent. This made Jing Yue, who originally wanted to tease him, felt a little letdown.
Although sometimes, when the ‘other self’ in the Haotian Realm got along with Lil Yanzhi and he would get embarrassed in the big world too, Jing Yue felt that Qin Yanzhi should be more embarrassed than him. Unexpectedly, he accepted the collapse of his persona so quickly and just acted like a sensible bystander, while he was affected and disturbed.
Jing Yue was hurt by the blow to his state of mind when he suddenly heard a voice in his consciousness, “Pervert! Scoundrel! Hooligan!”
He looked down abruptly and saw the blue phoenix lying on his lap had woken up at some point. Although still a little weak, it seemed to have received the memories of the small world.
“Jing-jing! Boohoo… Jing-jing! How can you let that hooligan kiss you?” Blue phoenix raised its wings tremblingly, and then put them down again, with a tear in its beady eyes. “The boy is heartless and has neglected the good intentions of the phoenix.”
Jing Yue, “…” He wanted to ask what is a hooligan?
(TN: Hooligan 流氓子 liu mang zi = normally only ‘liu mang’ is used, but Ji-ji added a ‘-zi’ as Lil Yanzhi is just a kid, also an affectionate term that Ji-ji likes to use, thus Jing Yue’s question.)
“Only hear the new man laughing, not hearing the old phoenix crying.”^
(TN: A famous line that describes abandoning old for new. Obviously, Ji-ji had replaced 'person' with 'phoenix')
Jing Yue, “…”
“Hearts could change easily, but one is accused of changing easily.”
(TN: Another famous line that describes accusing someone of a change of heart while the accuser's heart had changed earlier)
The spirit of blue phoenix’s dramatic performance exploded. The surprise, love, and distress in Jing Yue's heart were almost washed away. He gritted his teeth and said, “It seems that you have fully recovered, huh?”
The blue phoenix was a divine beast after all, and the physical fitness was much better than that of human beings. During its slumber, Jing Yue channeled spiritual energy into it from time to time, and the injuries suffered had gradually recovered. At this time, however, its eyes darted around nervously, pretended to cough a few times, and said weakly, “Ji-ji is unwell…”
Jing Yue smiled sinisterly, “Oh, really?”
Blue phoenix trembled and dared not pretend anymore. It said timidly, “Since Jing-jing has admitted his mistake, Ji-ji won’t pursue this matter. Hmph, I haven't blamed Jing-jing for giving Ji-ji away yet. The only reason you can bully Ji-ji like this is that this phoenix likes you.”
Was the blue phoenix really in a coma? Or did it go and read some porn somewhere?
Jing Yue took a deep breath. “Ji-ji, aren't you curious and worried about our situation?”
Blue phoenix, “Isn’t it just the ‘original self’ and ‘other self’? What’s so strange about this?”
Jing Yue said earnestly, “Ji-ji ah… I finally believe you’re a descendant of the blue phoenix clan!”
Blue phoenix suddenly put on airs, “This phoenix has long known about this!”
Seeing Jing Yue's expression softened, it immediately tried to take advantage, “Jing-jing, you must promise Ji-ji not to be too kind to that hooligan. Your ‘other self’ can only be good to ‘other Ji-ji’!”
After saying that, it suddenly thought of something. It jumped up, grabbed Jing Yue nervously, and said, “No, that’s not right. You can only treat Ji-ji well. You mustn’t fall in love with another Ji-ji.”
Jing Yue let out a weak hum when a person next to him suddenly said, “What are you doing?”
Jing Yue froze suddenly. He turned his head and saw Qin Yanzhi looking at him suspiciously, his eyes a bit complicated.
Thinking that he might be suspected of being sick in the head if he was seen babbling to himself just now, Jing Yue awkwardly changed the subject, “I'm just wondering if the method of teaching you swordsmanship in the small world is correct. Will it delay Lil Yanzhi’s achievements in sword cultivation?”
Qin Yanzhi raised his chin slightly. “The ‘other self’ is also me. What I can do, so can he.”
Questions: What are the names that Rouge has?
Rouge: Qin Yanzhi, Mountain Leader, Qin-zhenjun, Yuan Tianci
Jing-jing: Swallow, Rouge, Lil Yanzhi, Lil Rouge
Ji-ji: XXX, dim-witted son, hooligan.
(TN: Swallow 燕子 yan zi = comes from Qin Yanzhi’s name 秦燕支.)