Estranged - Chapter 34

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Chapter 34. You can only be killed by me

Even if Chen Ting knew that the entrance to the Void Shore was the Yunding Lake in Heavenly City, he still had no opportunity to come here. 

Because they were in the past, and in Changming’s past at that. 

If Changming didn’t see it wrong, and the person whose shadow flashed by actually belonged to Chen Ting, there was only one possible answer— 

This person was like Yun Weisi, who could defy the Nine Layers of the Abyss’s laws and wander around not as a guest, but as the host. 

As soon as Changming saw him, he started chasing that person without the slightest hesitation. 

But at this moment, the crowd suddenly screamed in fear. Changming was shoved from the left and kicked from the right, and his view was obstructed. 

He lowered his head to look down. At some point, the copper coins scattered all around turned into scurrying and wriggling vipers and scorpions. 

The crowd of commoners, who were in high spirits just a while ago, were now crying for their fathers and mothers, and dispersing in the uproar. 

Performers holding lighted torches were looking right and left, completely at a loss for what to do with their hands and feet; they were knocked down by fleeing people, and fell to the ground one after another, their masks breaking into pieces. They were confused and disheartened. 

Chen Ting had long since disappeared in an unknown direction, mingling in with the boundless sea of people.

Changming frowned and turned towards Yun Weisi, who was standing next to him. 

“Who else apart from you can travel through the Nine Layers of the Abyss freely?” 

Yun Weisi pondered for a short time. 

“I don’t remember.”

Changming was speechless: “Is there anything you remember?” 

Yun Weisi: “You are my shifu, I am staying in the Nine Layers of the Abyss, and I must kill you.” 

Changming: “…This teacher feels very honored for occupying two out of your three memories.”

Yun Weisi said indifferently: “Every time I come out of seclusion, I forget something. A lot of time has passed, and I’ve forgotten many matters completely; these three are more than enough. My Dao is heartless, so if I can forget something, I do.” 

Changming smiled faintly: “Then, have you ever thought about the reason why you have forgotten everything, but always keep your teacher in mind?” 

He looked at Yun Weisi, and Yun Weisi looked at him as well. 

Four eyes met, one person moved by hundreds of feelings, and the other completely indifferent. 

Yun Weisi didn’t hesitate or avert his gaze, his expression as cold-hearted as if he was looking at a stranger. 

Changming said: “If not deep-rooted feelings, why would they be hard to forget?” 

Yun Weisi: “So, if I kill you, all my heart obstructions will be broken easily with a single swing of a sword.” 

Changming: “And what if they won’t be resolved?” 

Yun Weisi answered without thinking: “It’s impossible.” 

Changming smiled silently. 

Yun Weisi’s heart wavered. 

That feeling returned once again. 

Only for a short moment, leaving too quick to catch it, making him feel lost. 

Yun Weisi didn’t like such out-of-control feelings at all. 

Given his cultivation realm, not a single matter was able to confuse his heart, and he shouldn’t have taken his past ill-fated relationships to heart. 

He wasn’t going to kill his teacher because of grudges, but to gain enlightenment, merely to solve karma, cut off the last shackle, to find the right Dao and achieve much.

As soon as I leave this place, I’ll have to dispose of this person, that was what he thought. 

“What copper coins, this is clearly a trick, I’ve seen it all in the capital!” 

Cong Rong wasn’t frightened and opened her mouth to speak. She looked around and pulled at Changming’s sleeve again, asking him to go for food, and paid no attention to the waves surging between the two of them.

Being pulled by her, Changming went up to a stall with fried beancurd and stopped in front of it. Several other stalls with food stood around, and the aroma in this place was quite alluring. Except for Cong Rong, a few other people were lured there by this smell.

“Move over! Move over!”

A person jostled the crowd to come forward.

“What kind of darn junk do you sell, there are maggots inside! Who would have thought you’d dare dupe your customers!”

The stall keeper, who was grabbed by his collar, replied immediately. 

“What is it all about?! Hey, you want to blackmail me? I’ve been selling here for years, and no one has ever said they ate maggots, you are going too far!”

The two of them started scuffling, but suddenly the face of the one who came to complain turned grave. He bent down and covered his stomach with hands.

The stall keeper hurriedly let him go and even took a few steps back, insisting on his innocence: “You all saw I haven’t hit him at all!” 

While he was talking, the other man started throwing up, and his vomit fell to the ground; people who were around him all retreated a three day’s march.

Retreat three day’s march: strategic withdrawal. 

To their horror, the people saw that his vomit was not food, but maggots. 

The white maggots started squirming lively. 

After vomiting for a while, that person rolled his eyes and fell to the ground weakly, lying motionless. 

The stall keeper’s expression changed. He didn’t know where to put his arms and legs. 

“I haven’t killed him ah, my stuff is good, I’ll show you!” 

He grabbed a beancurd from his bamboo basket and stuffed it in his mouth right away, chewing it hastily. 

But, under the gaze of so many eyes, his face turned white, showing a pained expression, and he started vomiting as well. 

Cong Rong threw the beancurd in her arm to the ground in fury. 

The stall keeper vomited out white maggots and fell too. 

Changming stretched his arm to feel his pulse. 

Cong Rong asked nervously: “How is he?” 

Changming shook his head, looking at the eyelids and the neck of the man. 

One life was lost forever. 

The white maggots, squirming on the ground, gradually turned grey and even black, and tried climbing up their shoes.

Yun Weisi unsheathed the Chunzhao Sword, and with his one stroke all the maggots turned into powder. 

The chaos attracted the attention of many people, and, although no one dared come too close, they didn’t leave as well. 

Yuru Town was located far from the Central Plains, and there were no local authorities. The ones in control were the local gentry. They were very respectful towards cultivators and talented people. When they received news of the incident, they dispatched people to find out the reasons. They weren’t acting arrogantly towards Changming and his companions at all, and politely asked people to disperse, taking the corpses away and quickly signalling to others to clean off the stall, as if nothing happened.

Cong Rong was still shocked, and couldn’t come to her senses. 

“How on earth did they die, was this beancurd actually poisoned?” 

Changming waved his sleeves, and a piece of beancurd appeared in his palm. 

“I will examine it again after we get back.” 

Cong Rong was convinced that it would bring them bad luck: “How can you bring such a thing back, what if this jinxed stuff will stain you accidentally!”

Changming said: “The reason behind their deaths is obscure, but they weren’t poisoned. We will talk about it again after I study it.” 

As soon as these words fell, he suddenly stopped. 

“What happened now?” 

Cong Rong was frightened that something bad happened again. 

Changming put the beancurd in her hands. 

“Take good care of it, I still have something to do. Yun Weisi, walk her back!” 

Not waiting for them to answer, he swiftly disappeared in the sea of people. 

Left behind, Cong Rong and Yun Weisi looked at each other blankly. 

The former smiled awkwardly: “Yun… Master Yun?” 

Yun Weisi stared pensively in the direction where Changming had disappeared. 

After this matter, Cong Rong couldn’t help but lose her appetite, feeling full and sick, so she didn’t raise the question of looking for food again. She quickly returned to the guest house with Yun Weisi, saying nothing on the way. But, in front of the guest house, she stumbled upon a person who she didn’t expect to meet here.

“Yun Chang’an?!”

“Cong Rong?!”

Young people shouted out each other’s names simultaneously, surprised by this unexpected encounter.

This wasn’t a pleasant surprise at all. 

Cong Rong even had an irritated look on her face: “Did you stalk me all the way from the capital?!” 

Yun Chang’an laughed coldly: “Aren’t you overestimating yourself? Who would stalk you? A dignified daughter of the Cong Family unexpectedly runs away from her home! If the rumors about it spread, who will ever dare to marry you?”

Cong Rong: “How are you any better, do you still have a face to say this to me? Your family sent you to join the army, but you said you were too exhausted and didn’t want to go. You really are silk trousers! I’m afraid that whoever marries you will run out of luck for eight generations!” 

Silk trousers: neg. dandy; son of the rich. 

Yun Chang’an: “What a coincidence, isn’t young lady Cong that very fiancee who escaped marrying into my family?”

Cong Rong ah-ed: “I’ve already left my home, so we are not intertwining vines anymore!” 

Intertwining vines: in a relationship, especially an intimate one. 

Yun Weisi remained unmoved by their childish dispute, and simply bypassed them to enter the guest house. 

Cong Rong saw this and hurriedly caught up to him. 

“Master Yun, wait for me!” 

When Yun Chang’an just heard these words, he thought that she was addressing them to him, and only after some time realized that this man who was with Cong Rong had the same surname. 

“Great ah, not only did you run away from marriage, but even eloped with a secret lover!” 

Cong Rong was enraged: “Be more respectful, don’t make me beat you!” 

Yun Chang’an sneered: “With your skills of a three-legged cat?”

Of a three-legged cat: amateurish. 

The flames of war were ready to explode any second, but Yun Weisi, who had returned at some point, stretched out his hand, getting in their way.

“Give me that thing.”

Cong Rong was astonished: “What?”

Yun Weisi: “The beancurd.”

… 

Changming saw Chen Ting again.

This time he only caught a glimpse of his figure as well, but now Changming was sure he wasn’t mistaken. 

Chen Ting showing up all the time was definitely not a coincidence. He obviously had a purpose, and was connected to many things.

Changming was keeping a large distance with him, without any intentions to close the gap rushingly. 

Chen Ting was walking pretty fast, without turning his head back, as if he was fleeing from something. On his way, he made seven turns and eight circles, getting into the crowd one moment and entering deserted alleys another.

Seven turns and eight circles: moving in curves to trick. 

A group of people carrying a crimson palanquin passed in front of Changming, accompanied by suona horns, shengs and xiaos; this lively procession was a bridal sedan chair. The two of them separated by the people, and when Changming had finally avoided the wedding procession, he saw Chen Ting getting close to the exit of the town hastily. 

Suona horn: a woodwind instrument used in festivals. 

Sheng: wind instrument, consists of several vertical pipes. 

Xiao: vertical bamboo flute. Pictures [1]. 

The road outside Yuru Town split into three paths, and the middle one was the road travelling merchants used to take. The ground was flattened by the wheels of carriages passing by frequently, so it was relatively smooth. At the same time, the left path was a dead end blocked by a towering tree that had fallen there many years ago; sand and stone had been piling up there over the years, and no one took this road anymore.

Some green plants were gracing the road sides, but, if one walked further and passed a slope, they would reach the vast desert of boundless yellow sands.  

Against reason, Chen Ting chose that dead end on the left. 

Even though this choice was more than strange, Changming chased him nevertheless. 

A muffled scream sounded from behind the high fallen tree, but it was suddenly silenced halfway, and the scream faded away helplessly.

This voice belonged to Chen Ting.

Changming sped up.

Chen Ting’s back was leaning against the rough wood of the dead tree, and he couldn’t get up. A cyan-faced demon was biting him on the shoulder and blocking his mouth tightly with one hand, which was the reason why Chen Ting couldn’t shout in full voice. 

His other hand was cutting a wound on Chen Ting’s forehead, and blood was oozing from it; the wound was very deep and even, as if cut to rip off Chen Ting’s skin.

The back of that hand that showed from his black robes was red, with visible muscles and tendons; just one glance was enough to tell that that hand didn’t belong to a human. 

Chen Ting was bleeding badly, and his expression was feeble. Although he continued to struggle vigorously, these futile attempts were only an amusement for the demon. 

No matter how light Changming’s steps were, he still made a sound. 

The demon abruptly turned his head, looking at Changming with blood-shot eyes. That face was covered with fish scales that moved as well, which was quite terrifying.

When he appeared, the demon had already lost interest in Chen Ting, who wasn’t able to resist anymore. The demon loosened his grip, and Chen Ting fell on the ground helplessly. 

After watching Changming closely for a moment, following his beast instinct, the demon suddenly moved like a wing, intending to grab Changming!

Changming was ready and retreated at once.

He had no valuable things on his body, and didn’t even bring the Golden Glass Beads Staff. He picked up a few pieces of decayed wood and threw them; however, these fragile pieces could not cause any damage to the demon, only blocking his sight for a moment. In a split second, they were turned into smithereens and fell to the ground. 

The demon would never look highly at such a feeble human. His sharp and long fingernails aimed right for Changming’s neck!

Two white partridges flew out from Changming’s sleeves, and four white wolves followed them immediately. 

As if there was a bottomless treasure chest in Changming’s sleeves, he always had many puppets hidden there. 

The martial skills of the paper puppets were not that bad, even when facing such a ferocious beast that a group of cultivators usually wouldn’t dare to attack. But the demon paid them no attention: the partridges and the wolves left many scratch marks on his body, even biting off some pieces of his skin, but couldn’t damage his immense powers, and were torn into shreds in no time. 

Changming’s neck was grabbed by a hand. 

This hand was tremendously strong. 

Given Changming’s strength at that time, he had no chance to escape. 

His cultivation level was limited in this place, and he couldn’t even use half of it freely. 

The grip on his neck was getting tighter and tighter. 

Changming’s face turned red, and he was having difficulties breathing. 

The demon’s bloodthirsty eyes were smiling with cruelty, but he loosened the grip. Just like a cat playing with a mouse, he was planning to slowly torture this tempting prey till it dies. 

Suddenly, his expression froze, and all the conceited joy turned into disbelieving fright. 

A sword pierced his chest right through his heart from behind, and was pulled out more quickly than the blink of an eye! 

He turned around and reached his arm out, but caught only air. 

Yun Weisi shook off the blood droplets from his sword, and soon the sword rushed towards the demon’s neck. 

The latter gasped from pain, and many scales, cut away from his skin, fell to the ground in a stream. The demon realized that he was bound to return empty-handed this day, so he immediately turned around and left without the slightest hesitation. 

Yun Weisi didn’t chase him. 

He was looking at Changming. 

Changming had a deep scarlet mark on his neck, left by the nails of the demon. Blood was dripping from this wound, particularly conspicuous and horrible. 

“Did my lovely disciple worry about his teacher and rush here to the rescue?” 

Changming coughed a couple of times, his voice drastically different from the usual one, which couldn’t stop him from mocking Yun Weisi nevertheless. 

“You can only be killed by me.” 

Yun Weisi didn’t want to look at this bloody wound again, so he averted his gaze and landed it on Chen Ting. 

“Give me a hand.” 

Changming really had no strength. The demon struck him without mercy, and he felt that every vital organ in his body was almost displaced. He suppressed the urge to vomit blood just now because he had a more important task on his hands. 

Yun Weisi didn’t move, and Changming seized his shoulder to get up, sighing. 

“Daoyou Chen, long time no see, I hope you have been well since we parted.” 

Chen Ting wiped off the blood from the corners of his mouth, and walked to them lamely, surprised and glad at the meeting.

“Why are you also here!”

Changming: “That’s what I should be asking you.” 

Chen Ting was taken aback: “Daoyou Changming, what do you mean?” 

Changming: “This place is the Ninth Layer of the Abyss, the Void Shore. How did you come here?” 

Chen Ting: “Didn’t we enter Heavenly City together? That night, something loud happened outside of the city. I was curious, so I left my room to take a look; who knew that a large group of vultures would start chasing after me. In the end, I came to the Yunding Lake, and somehow entered this place, following you. That demon was roaming about the town, and when I noticed him, he decided to kill me to silence a witness. I was wounded, and couldn’t beat him; fortunately, you came. What on earth is this place?” 

Without uttering a single word, Yun Weisi suddenly sent his sword forward, and its rays rushed right towards Chen Ting! 

Chen Ting retreated at once, his smooth movements not at all what a wounded person should have. Yun Weisi chased him closely, and in a flash they exchanged several dozens of moves. Although it seemed that his spiritual powers were restricted and he could only rely on his brute force, unexpectedly he didn’t miss a single attack, dealing with them at ease. 

Obviously, he had been concealing his true strength; he was on the same level with those who were called promising young talents like He Qingmo and others. He was indeed too modest.

“Wait a moment!” 

Chen Ting didn’t want to fight with Yun Weisi, so he took several steps back, and shouted loudly. 

“I know that you have many doubts. Isn’t it better to find a silent place and let me explain everything slowly!”

Yun Weisi squinted, dismissing his words, and raised his sleeves to attack again. 

As if Changming foresaw this, he stepped forward and held him back. 

Upon seeing this, Chen Ting said with a smile: “Daoyou Changming is still more sober.” 

Changming: “It’s just that he doesn’t want to listen to your nonsense, but I’m still interested in you.” 

Chen Ting: “Which words of mine let you find the gap?” 

Changming: “During all the time we have spent together, you showed these gaps everywhere, not just now.” 

Chen Ting raised his eyebrows: “Such as?” 

“The Nine Layers of the Abyss is a formation created by forces of opposite nature, and there is no second place like this in the world. It is just like a universe of a thousand universes, and it can hold every living being. Xu Jingxian and I have a history together, and she has no other way but to stick with me all the time. But you’ve been meeting me again and again too. I managed to notice the gap in the formation of Heavenly City in the Yunding Lake because my skills in formations are very rare in this world. How did you find the passage to the Ninth Layer of the Abyss on the bottom of that lake? This couldn’t be a coincidence as well, right? If coincidences happen so frequently, they are not coincidental.” 

Changming was talking and coughing at the same time. He was speaking slowly, but Chen Ting was listening with a great interest, and didn’t interrupt him. 

“There is only one explanation: you are the same as Yun Weisi, and you know how to travel between the layers of the Nine Layers of the Abyss at will; and even Yun Weisi doesn’t know who you are.” 

Chen Ting laughed: “It’s not that he doesn’t know, he just forgot! Such a magnificent head of a Daoist temple, nowadays restrained in the Nine Layers of the Abyss, turning into its watchdog, as if it’s worth it! But I would have never guessed that you, Jiufang Changming, still haven’t died. Were all the ghosts and evil spirits of the Yellow Springs not enough to deal with you in so many years?” 

He disclosed Changming’s identity in a few words, and knew a lot about them; without a doubt, he was their old acquaintance. 

But both his appearance and expressions were unfamiliar. Changming had been wandering through the Yellow Springs for a long time; although he had more or less restored his memories, many fragments were still shattered. He couldn’t recall who that person was even after some time. 

“But, what a pity: although luck saved your life, you turned into a waste, and can only walk around in this state, tolerating every harassment, and your disciples make their old friend distressed. Isn’t it better for me to send you off, to end all the troubles at once?” 

As soon as this ‘once’ left his mouth, Chen Ting came closer! 

At an extremely terrifying speed! 

He had never demonstrated such strength before. With this skill of passing a thousand lis in one step, even if he had no spiritual powers, he still could be considered one of the best masters in the world. 

With Changming’s skills at that moment, even though he could clearly see the other’s movement, his reaction was too slow to dodge it. 

And this one light as a feather hand was about to take his life. 

The Chunzhao Sword slid in between them, like a chasm appearing out of thin air; Changming only felt one light impulse pushing him away, and his previous position was taken by Yun Weisi. Chen Ting’s attack was now like mud falling into an ocean, and had no effect. 

He was circling around Yun Weisi neither fast nor slow, as if waiting with infinite patience for Yun Weisi to show a weak point.

Changming watched them for some time, and saw the sky gradually getting dark with the corner of his eye. The dusk was blackening with a speed visible to the naked eye. 

Chen Ting is delaying time!

When Changming realized this fact, the last ray of the setting sun disappeared over the horizon. 

Yun Weisi seemed distracted, and his body swayed uncontrollably. 

The corners of Chen Ting’s mouth rose. His long sword was suddenly unsheathed, its point turned towards Yun Weisi! 

His sword fierce as wind, turning water drops into ice! 

The dusk gave up to the night, and on the verge of yang becoming yin, Yun Weisi fell asleep, and Yun Hai woke up. 

And this one moment of absentmindness was more than enough for Chen Ting to make a fatal attack! 

The point of his sword was only one cun away from his skin, and the aura of the sword had already left a bleeding mark on Yun Weisi’s forehead. 

One cun: 3 ⅓ cm. 

Chen Ting’s eyes froze. His movements were constrained. 

It wasn’t that he suddenly had compassion towards them—his Guyue Sword was gripped. 

Gripped by a hand. 

That hand held the naked blade. 

Blood was dripping from its fingers. 

One droplet, two droplets, then a stream of blood. 

There was no need to examine it carefully to know how badly this hand was mutilated. 

“Unexpectedly, you…” 

Chen Ting ah-ed and sneered. 

“I would have never thought that the Jiufang Changming who expelled all his disciples in those years is actually a person who cherishes his disciples!” 

He wasn’t going to retrieve his sword. 

Therefore, Changming’s fingers were sure to be completely broken. 

But at this moment, another sword intercepted his attack, and flew towards Chen Ting’s shoulder. 

If he wanted to save his shoulder, he had to withdraw his sword. 

Sure enough, Chen Ting retrieved his hand. 

The Guyue Sword fell to the ground, and Chen Ting didn’t pick it up. He was unable to kill them, and his scheme was brought to light, but his expression was still smiling. 

“If you don’t return now, it’ll be too late.”

Just when these words sounded, a scream came from the town. 

The night was quiet, and this sharp scream pierced their ears. 

Changming’s expression changed. 

During this night, a large accident happened in Yuru Town; it started precisely at this moment. Chen Ting led them out of the town on purpose, even showing his cards without hesitation. Was it all just to let him repeat his mistake once again, to lose this chance to find the cause of this matter? 

Tn: 

[1] (from Baidu & Wikipedia)

Suona

 

Sheng

Xiao

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