TN: I realize that some of what’s happened might be a little difficult to understand (esp. the details about the system), so I’ve made a Chapter 1-5 summary available here. Hopefully it’ll clear things up if anyone’s confused. Or you can just ask me. XD
Made a page for Chinese fanart I found for this novel here. Also, there’s a lot of sarcasm in this chapter courtesy of Shen Qingqiu. LOL
Ever since Shen Qingqiu woke up from that high fever that emerged out of nowhere, Yue Qingyuan has come by to visit him several times during these days of ‘recuperation.’ Touted as the world’s number one cultivation sect’s main faction head, the things he must take care of are complex and many. Yet he still has the time to take this younger apprentice-brother’s matters to heart. Shen Qingqiu almost felt moved.
Perhaps the original would still be able to betray this kind of person without regret or mercy, showing just how much of a scumbag he is.
Yue Qingyuan carried a snowy white porcelain tea set inside Shen Qingqiu’s bamboo house, his eyes brimming with concern: “How is younger apprentice-brother’s body after recuperating these days?”
Shen Qingqiu lightly waved his fan, integrating well into this atmosphere of brotherly affection: “Qingqiu has never had any problems. I’ve made older apprentice brother worry again.”
Yue Qingyuan: “That means apprentice-brother is ready to go down the mountain. Is there anything you need?”
The hand that was holding the fan wavered: “Down the mountain?”
Yue Qingyuan said: “Did apprentice-brother’s illness this time make you forget? Didn’t you tell me at that time that you would deal with the problem at Shuang Hu City, using it as an opportunity for your disciples to gain experience?”
So it’s a problem passed down by the original goods.
Shen Qingqiu truly wanted to find an excuse to avoid this problem. He still hasn’t completely familiarized himself with his spiritual power and techniques; how can he bring his disciples to gain experience like this!
But he hadn’t even thickened his skin enough to say that his body wasn’t well enough to go when an alert sounded next to his ear. The system coldly announced:
【Beginning stage checkpoint mission1 assigned. Destination: Shuang Hu City. Mission: Finish disciples’ experience opportunity. Please click to accept. 】
So this is the mission required to transition from the beginning stage to the next! It seems that he has no choice but to go. Shen Qingqiu wanted to ask how he was supposed to accept when he was immediately confronted with the mission profile and two selections at the bottom. On the left is ‘Accept’ and on the right side ‘Decline.’
He paused over the ‘Accept’ option for a while. It gradually turned green and a ‘ding’ sounded. The system announced: 【Mission successfully accepted. Please read the file carefully for mission details and make appropriate preparations. We wish you success. 】
Shen Qingqiu turned back towards Yue Qingyuan and said: “I remember, naturally. It’s just that these days I’ve been lazy and almost forgotten about this matter. I’ll depart soon.”
Yue Qingyuan nodded: “If it is inconvenient for you, please don’t be courteous. Getting your disciples to gain experience isn’t something that needs to be hurried. Actually, you don’t even need to supervise them yourself.”
Shen Qingqiu smiled but in his heart complained: ‘Older apprentice-brother, you…… don’t you know you’re exactly like that mission-giving NPC?’
It’s been mentioned by the original Shen Qingqiu in the novel that he passed all his matters to Ming Fan to carry out, no matter how big or small. As long as it’s not related to the protagonist, this child’s efficiency and intelligence are high. On the second day, Shen Qingqiu was already able to set out.
Before leaving Qing Jing Peak, Shen Qingqiu inspected his image again. He was dressed in white robes with a blue2 waistband and belt, a sword hanging at the left side of his waist while his right hand held a fan. He is exactly the picture of refined and tasteful elegance.
Absolutely not OOC, perfect!
The white stone steps leading down to the mountain gate are hundreds of steps long. At the foot of the stairs are a horse-drawn carriage prepared for Shen Qingqiu and many riding horses for his disciples.
Shen Qingqiu: ‘System, are you teasing me? If it’s for a cultivation setting, why aren’t we using flying swords to move out?’
The system coldly replied: 【Even if it is in a world with a setting like Harry Potter, not every wizard would go outside riding a broom. Too high-profile. 】
Shen Qingqiu: ‘You seem to know a lot about this? In the past, were you assigned to Harry Potter’s world?’
The system responded with a big line of【… 】.
Ever since the system was in service for so many years, Shen Qingqiu is the first person to pull off this kind of bullshit.
However, after thinking it over, the system’s right. This time they’re going down the mountain for experience. These disciples are mostly young and inexperienced. They haven’t found their own ‘sword’ yet3. From the very beginning under Cang Qiong Mountain sect’s guidance, the disciples must cultivate to a certain stage before they can enter the central area of the Twelve Peaks to pick a ‘sword’ suitable for them.
It’s said that a person chooses the sword but in reality, it’s the sword who chooses the person. If a person completely doesn’t have any sort of talent but persists in stubbornly taking a top-grade Heaven and Earth Spiritual Power Condensation sort of technique4, not only is it like a beautiful woman getting hitched with someone ugly, it’s also tantamount to a beautiful flower being inserted into cow dung5. Think about it. Even if the desire’s there, the sword might not agree.
Luo Binghe’s golden finger6 started coming into play when he found his own unique sword ‘Xin Mo.’
Shen Qingqiu entered the horse carriage. The carriage’s exterior is generous without being ornate. Inside it is spacious enough to lounge comfortably with a fragrant little incense burner lazily wisping smoke. After sitting for a moment, he felt there was something wrong. He lifted the window curtain with his fan and looked outside.
No wonder he felt there was something familiar about this carriage. The little figure darting back and forth getting called by others to do things, who’d also cleaned this carriage; it was the handyman Luo Binghe!
Luo Binghe finally placed the last item on the carriage – a white jade chest that Shen Qingqiu always brought every time he went out. When he raised his head and met Shen Qingqiu’s complex gaze, he was surprised but still respectfully greeted: “Shizun.”
The injuries he’d received from the previous Shen Qingqiu’s ‘lesson’ had just about healed, the bruises on his face gone. Though he’s young and his worldview hasn’t opened up, it doesn’t detract from his capable and noble appearance. With a straight back and that air of action, it’s as though he hasn’t been beaten and suppressed on Qing Jing Peak for years.
Though he’s doing rough work, his attitude is meticulous and that seriousness of his makes it difficult for anyone not to like him.
Perhaps Shen Qingqiu has some good feelings towards the protagonist because he originally held an interest in him. He is decisive when killing and differentiates clearly between those he should show gratitude or resentment towards, which Shen Qingqiu likes.
Shen Qingqiu looked at him for a while, then said “Mm.’ He drew back his fan, letting the curtains fall down again. It has to be said, the protagonist is truly the protagonist. Though this kid had fallen from grace so tragically without any kind of prospects or background, he also had a big bunch of Woman 1, Woman 2, Woman 3, Woman 4, and so on hugging him front and back. This principle is that the person who looks best is the one who stands last!
Of course, this also explains why his fellow brother disciples don’t find him pleasing to the eye and want to smite him into a pig’s head.
He turned his thoughts over in his head once, then again: Not right. If the total number of disciples leaving the mountain including Luo Binghe number ten, then why did he only see nine horses? There’s still one horse missing.
Well, even his toes know who must have done it.
Sure enough, there’s a snicker. Ming Fan’s delighted voice penetrated the carriage from a long distance: “There’s truly a shortage of horses. We can only impose on you this time, apprentice-brother. Since your basic foundation is lacking, it’s also a good opportunity for you to practice.”
It’s complete bullshit that there’s not enough horses. As the number one cultivation sect in the world these years, Cang Qiong Mountain sect is practically overflowing with wealth. Can they lack even a single horse?
Ming Fan is truly well-versed in being a piece of cannon fodder. After a moment, he also said: “What? What kind of expression is that? You’re unsatisfied?”
Luo Binghe evenly replied with two words: “Don’t dare.”
Only, a young girl’s laughter rang out like bells. Ning Yingying said, “Big apprentice-brother, what are you talking about?”
Really, you always arrive at just the right time, young girl!
Shen Qingqiu knew that Ning Yingying’s presence acts as the worst sort of evil catalyst between Ming Fan and Luo Binghe’s interactions. As long as she appears, Luo Binghe will always have a hard time.
Shen Qingqiu ventured to lift his window curtain up a little. True enough, he saw Ning Yingying excitedly wave her hand: “Ah Luo, are there not enough horses? Come and ride with me!”
……Really bringing a lot of hatred onto Luo Binghe.
Even Shen Qingqiu can imagine the sight of Ming Fan’s jaw dropping to the ground. This protagonist getting the beauty is a common scene and very cool, only it will easily increase the pressure put upon him by the malicious and envious. If Luo Binghe accepts Ning Yingying’s offer, he shouldn’t even think of being left in peace by the others.
Sitting in the horse-carriage, Shen Qingqiu said from within: “Don’t be noisy, men and women shouldn’t be in contact with each other7. There should be a limit to the affection between you and your apprentice brother. Ming Fan, why have you tarried so long? Why haven’t we set out already?”
Ming Fan was overjoyed and in his heart thought that Shizun truly had the same thoughts as him! He immediately pushed for everyone to start out. This small farce set aside, Shen Qingqiu retreated into his own thoughts. He opened the door of the carriage a little to check that they were moving out.
The expedition this time is not only the first ‘going down the mountain’ scene but also significant because this a chance for Shen Qingqiu to see if he can undo the OOC freeze. He must treat this opportunity seriously.
The contents of the mission file concern a small city dozens of miles away from Cang Qiong sect. A series of murders emerged recently. Nine people in succession have already been killed.
Every deceased person has a similarity: each one had their all their skin perfectly removed. From head to toe, the expertise of the killer was so high that it seemed like the body had never grown skin to begin with. Therefore, the murderer is called “The Skinner.”
The officials have no way to deal with someone who successively killed nine people. All the common people are panicking and there are even some rumors that it’s the work of a ghost – how else would this killer be untraceable?!
A few big families held a meeting before finally deciding to invite Immortal cultivators from Cang Qiong Mountain sect for help.
He’s already read and reread this information countless times. However, no matter how often he rereads it there’s not a single bit of help.
What kind of thing is this Skinner?! He hasn’t even heard of it before! Is this some kind of added scene or an original part of the plot?! Isn’t it dangerous?! Doesn’t it require a high level of strength?! Can he even face this thing?! It’s totally different from what they agreed on!
When he was asking himself these questions, the system said: 【What difference is there? Previously you were a novel critic. You should know that the novel is a kind of artistic creation and an artistic creation will have its slight differences. And you have already become a part of this world. Naturally, you must personally experience the scenes of the plot and complete the originally omitted scenes to finish the story. 】
Shen Qingqiu was helpless. He knew it was unavoidable. He could only practice with increased effort to get accustomed to his Xiu Ya Sword technique as soon as possible before they descended the mountain, familiarize himself with all kinds of skills to prevent being himself from being played around with and killed by whatever obscure ghost or spirit he might encounter.
The compartments in the horse-carriage have all kinds of things. Wordless, Shen Qingqiu was even able to find five or six tea sets. He could still be counted as a rich little second-generation kid8 in his past life, but even then there wasn’t this kind of attention to detail and sheer wealth.
Luo Binghe is still outside. He has never let up his vigilance a single bit, always on the watch for movement. Outside the horse carriage a trace of laughter seemed to travel through the air from time to time. Shen Qingqiu glanced outside.
Luo Binghe walked alone at the end of the procession, sometimes breaking into a run. Horses circle him, purposely made to kick up a wave of dirt and make him dusty.
This is only a novel. Everyone is a fictional character made and acting out a plot created by imagination; everything can be blamed on that stupid author for making the protagonist suffer, suffer, suffer, suffer, suffer, and freaking suffer your sister!
But once this scene is played out in real time in front of him like this, if you don’t want him to be unmoved it’s too unrealistic.
Ning Yingying tried to discourage the others to no avail. Anxious, she directed her horse closer to the carriage and called: “Shizun! Look at older apprentice-brother and the rest!”
Shen Qingqiu’s heart was moved but it didn’t show on his face. Without much expression, he said: “What about them?”
Her voice carried a deep sense of grievance when she said: “They’re bullying people like this but you aren’t telling them off. If this goes on……Shizun, what are you teaching disciples for!”
This can be considered lodging a public complaint. But Ming Fan and the others don’t feel pressured because the past Shen Qingqiu habitually allowed their behavior. The more they bullied Luo Binghe, the more Shizun would be happy; where is the conflict?
Ming Fan is the happiest. That day behind the mountain must have been the result of a crooked spell or skill that Luo Binghe somehow learned. Today Shizun is here so Luo Binghe is doomed.
Shen Qingqiu let out an “Oh,” and said one sentence: “Luo Binghe, you come over.”
Luo Binghe’s face was dull and he seemed accustomed to this treatment. He said a single “Yes,” and approached.
Everyone had a sense of schadenfreude and thought that Luo Binghe was going to be beaten and disciplined again. But they didn’t think that today they would be frightened into self-destruction on three fronts.
Because Shen Qingqiu pulled open the door curtains, Luo Binghe proudly raised his head and looked inside the carriage. He didn’t speak but his gesture spoke for itself.
Ning Yingying happily said: “Ah Luo, quickly get on the carriage, Shizun is letting you ride with him!”
Lightning striking from clear skies!
If it wasn’t because they had been with Shizun so many years, Ming Fan and the others would have suspected that Shen Qingqiu was possessed by a demon!
Luo Binghe was also completely stunned. But he reacted quickly and didn’t hesitate long. He replied: “Many thanks, Shizun.” He leaped onto the carriage, honestly and self-consciously huddling in a corner, his hands and feet tucked in as though afraid of dirtying the carriage chamber.
Shen Qingqiu: ‘Warning what? I wasn’t OOC.’
System: 【It is impossible for ‘Shen Qingqiu’ to commit this act of solving Luo Binghe’s difficulties. Judgment: OOC Level 100%. 】
Shen Qingqiu said: ‘If it was only for solving Luo Binghe’s problems, then of course it’s impossible. But right now, my motive is to not disappoint Ning Yingying’s expectations of me as her Shizun. Imagine, how could I be cold-hearted and let my dear little disciple be disappointed?’
System: 【…… 】
Shen Qingqiu: ‘Therefore my actions are completely in line with the logic of ‘Shen Qingqiu’s’ character. You can’t deduct points.’
Through this exchange, he has already figured out some loopholes.
The system follows rules, but they aren’t dead rules. Since the rules are alive, then it’s in the realm of bargaining. As expected, the system hadn’t thought of coping strategies. Shen Qingqiu felt so cool that he couldn’t help letting out a laugh.
Originally he had been sitting quietly in the carriage and meditating, seeming to have fallen into a trance. But suddenly hearing a laugh, Luo Binghe couldn’t resist looking over.
Honestly speaking, it would be false to say Luo Binghe wasn’t surprised. Although he respects Shen Qingqiu, Shizun doesn’t care for him, doesn’t even appear to care for him. This he knows.
Shen Qingqiu probably called him onto the carriage earlier because he has something worse planned. Luo Binghe prepared himself inside but didn’t think that Shen Qingqiu would forget about him and start meditating.
Luo Binghe thought that he’d never been this close before. He carefully looked over Shen Qingqiu.
On the surface, Shen Qingqiu’s appearance is nothing to talk about. Maybe he’s not a first-class, number one handsome man, but he’s undeniably good-looking and good to look at.9 His face half in light and shadow seemed to be worn by soft-flowing water, easily pleasing to behold. If he took up his famous sword in one hand, he would be picture of cultivated elegance.
Shen Qingqiu opened his eyes and saw Luo Binghe observing him. The male protagonist at that moment saw his ‘eyes like stars, a wide smile, a greeting filled with laughter10.’ It was light and warm.
Having been caught in the act, Luo Binghe truly didn’t know how to best proceed. But then Shen Qingqiu smiled.
This smile is purely unconscious. It was as though Luo Binghe had been pricked by that smile, immediately withdrawing his eyes and unable to figure out what that feeling was.
Very soon, Shen Qingqiu wasn’t able to smile anymore.
The system announced: 【Violation: OOC. -5 Points. Current points: 165 Points. 】
Shen Qingqiu: ‘……Just smiling once causes a point deduction?’
The system said righteously: 【OOC is OOC. 】
—End Chapter 5—
1Beginning stage checkpoint mission: There are multiple stages (or story arcs) in the plot, each with an important checkpoint mission. Our MC has to complete these checkpoint missions to proceed in the plot. Right now our MC is at the Beginning stage (kind of like a tutorial/prologue) and needs to pass this checkpoint mission before really entering the main plotline/story.
2Blue (青): Pinyin is qing. This is a very confusing color word that can mean blue or green. I’ll probably switch between blue and green as I go, though I’ll admit that I have a preference for the MC in blue due to a piece of fanart I saw.
3 ‘Sword’: To add to the explanation after this footnote in the translation, this world’s cultivation seems to work like this: after cultivating to a certain level, the cultivator then needs to embark on a kind of self-reflection to find the ‘sword’ or technique suited for them. They go into seclusion to form it. Just substitute the word ‘sword’ for ‘dao’ and this part is like any other cultivation novel out there. LOL
4 Heaven and Earth Spiritual Power Condensation…technique (天地之靈氣凝結): Um, kinda translated this because it’s way too confusing in the original Chinese. But you can kinda guess this is an impressive thing that a noob cultivator shouldn’t touch.
5Beautiful flower being inserted into cow dung: Kept this phrase close to the original Chinese because it’s funny. It means something great or beautiful being wasted by getting attached to something useless and disgusting. The hilarious part is that this saying is usually used regarding a beautiful woman or man being married to someone who’s completely unworthy. It’s like Shen Qingqiu is repeating his previous description all over again. Over-emphasis much? XD
6Golden finger: Someone who is lucky AF. The complete opposite of someone who is unlucky or a ‘black hand’ when it comes to loot. Someone who hits the one-in-a-googleplex lottery jackpot. You get the idea.
7Men and women shouldn’t be in contact with each other (男女授受不親): A saying that means the boundaries between men and woman shouldn’t be crossed for the sake of propriety. Rather traditional but a common attitude. LOL I get the feeling that Shen Qingqiu’s turning into an overprotective papa.
8Second generation kid: An uncomplimentary way of referring to the second generation of a noveau riche family. I.e. some wealthy and irresponsible noble brat.
9Good to look at: This sounds so much nicer in the original Chinese. This phrase means that Shen Qingqiu is one of those people you won’t get tired of looking at.
10 ‘Eyes like stars, a wide smile, a greeting filled with laughter’ (目如兩點寒星，露齒莞爾，言笑晏晏): THIS FREAKING LINE SLAUGHTERED MY ATTEMPTS AT TRANSLATION. I’m pretty sure it’s from some ancient Chinese poem but I think I got the gist of the meaning. I think.