With One Smile: Chapter 3

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Chapter 3

*edited the end of Chapter 2 for clarity and fixed names for Chapters 1 & 2. I’m terrible at spotting names…

 

Hidden in the grove, no one spoke for a long time.

“Master, Mistress……” Suo Ying’s mouth was a little dry. “Did they meet Sixth apprentice-brother?”

“Don’t say such silly words, little apprentice-sister.” Du YuQi said: “Sixth apprentice-brother has been dead for two years.”

“Right, it’s only that Mistress missed and thought about him too much, so she imagined she saw him.” Du YuCheng comforted.

Mo QingYuan never said a word up till now. How to explain the yaoqi on this part of the mountain? Moreover, there was that person’s silhouette he saw in the sky. It truly was very like the lost Sixth apprentice-brother.

Having encountered this issue, other than Gu XiaoMo, no one has the heart to go pick jujubes. Mo QingYuan said: “Third and Fourth apprentice-brothers, accompany YingYing back to XiaoZhi Peak. I’ll bring XiaoMo back.”

After everyone agreed, Suo Ying looked back at the figure of the handsome white-robed man reluctantly. Mo QingYuan smiled at her and said gently: “Go rest early.”

Three people leaped onto their swords. Mo QingYuan turned around only to find the space behind him startlingly empty. He flew laboriously in a big circle before he found in the far distance a Gu XiaoMo shoving jujubes into her dress as though her life depended on it. Suddenly he felt some frustration.

“XiaoMo.”

Gu XiaoMo turns her head to Mo QingYuan, her mouth full of jujubes all the way down her throat. After coughing a few times, she said uncertainly: “Big, Big apprentice-brother.”

Mo QingYuan’s face was black.

 

“As someone who lives here, aren’t you afraid? Won’t it be better if I send you to XiaoZhi Peak together with YingYing……”

“I’m used to it, senior apprentice-brother. Thanks.”

Gu XiaoMo jumps down the sword, scattering a few of the jujubes stuffed in her robes. She looked a little sorry. Mo QingYuan lightly said: “Then I’ll go back, you return to your house first.”

“Nn.”

That gray silhouette stands by the cliff, humble and small. She kept blankly staring after that sword light though he had already left for a while.

“Don’t watch anymore, he’s gone already.”

“What’s it to you.”

“I’ve been waiting for you so long in this cold weather, you’re sure merciless.”

“No matter how cold it is you won’t feel it.”

“How hateful, poking at someone’s weak spot……”

Gu XiaoMo sighed, looking over to the floating, translucent spirit fixated on the things in her robes. If you’re asking why Gu XiaoMo is afraid of ghosts, it’s because she has been able to see ghosts from birth. There are some ghosts whose appearances shouldn’t be seen in public, but the scholarly and handsome ghost in front of her is an exception. He and Gu XiaoMo used to steal things to eat from the kitchen together. With this kind of record, there’s bound to be sympathetic good feelings. After putting the jujubes on a rock beside her, that hungry-to-death ghost charged and threw himself forward on it.

This scene is a bit strange, a jujube raised up in midair, entering the scholar’s mouth, slowly sinking down into his body and before entering the stomach, is snatched away by Gu XiaoMo’s outstretched hand and thrown into her own mouth.

“Hey, if you’re doing it like this it’ll feel strange.” The scholar said grievously.

“I’m not nauseous like you.”

“Since you’re bullying me like this, be careful I won’t find some ugly ghosts to scare you at night!”

Gu XiaoMo’s face turned livid. Forget being afraid of ghosts, she’s probably the only cultivator who has ever been blackmailed by a powerless little spirit.

“If you keep talking, I’ll beat you up!”

“……you don’t know even the most basic spell, don’t think I don’t know.”

……

Gu XiaoMo said evilly: “You smelly-to-death ghost, go reincarnate already!”

“You’re so lonely on this mountain, it’s better if I keep you company.” The scholar smiled very slightly, and just when Gu XiaoMo was about to speak, changed the subject: “You still haven’t practiced your sword tonight.”

Once he spoke, she realized that the sword forms she learned today truly could use some improvement. The scholar sat to the side and ate jujubes, watching Gu XiaoMo practice in the cold autumn air. Sword light flashed continually and sweat fell like rain.

What genius, what natural talent for the sword? It’s all dog shit. The scholar smiled lightly. It’s because no one has seen her practice so hard. It’s because no one would think that the usually lazy Gu XiaoMo would have low self-esteem for not being proficient in magic. Only her bitterly hard practice with the sword has come out with some success.

The scholar continues to watch over her. Eventually he finishes eating the jujubes, a small pile gathered under his feet. Gu XiaoMo pants: “Tomorrow morning……call me…… to wake up……”

“You really want me to wake you up once the sun rises from the west?”

“I was late to the morning lesson and Master punished me to sweep the cultivation pavilion for a month.”

“Geeze, you’re still so stupid. How can I go reincarnate in peace?”

The sword in her hand was raised in the air when she turned to face the scholar. He was still laughing leisurely. He was also like this when they stole and ate the same dessert together. When the time came for Master to start his inspection, he stuffed himself under his bed and almost died a second time. Every day he accompanies her as she practices her sword and even has advice for her sometimes. Like this she can already call him a friend. She recognized the loneliness hidden in his eyes and so he’s stuck around for three years already, watched over her like a daughter and seen her progress. It’s been worth it.

“Three years…… can you really go when you say you want to go?” She asked dumbly.

The scholar chuckled. Though this girl is usually very fierce with him, she’s still very affectionate at a critical moment. With a serious face: “After three years, if I still don’t reincarnate, I’ll become a wild wandering spirit…….”

Aiya,” she thought of something troubling and said: “If you go, who’s going to wake me up tomorrow morning?”

……

The scholar ran away in tears. Gu XiaoMo stood in one spot unmoving for a long time, then sighed so lightly that it dissipated with the breeze.

 

From a house on DaZhi Peak emitted warm candle light. Mo Wei raised his hand in front of the window. Qiu Jing quietly sat on the edge of the bed, her eyes staring fixedly at the embroidery on the pillows, her thoughts unknown.

“I definitely didn’t see wrong, that was Ze Xu.”

“If that was Ze Xu’s soul, how can there be yaoqi?”

“Maybe if Ze Xu didn’t die……”

“Mistress.” Mo Wei turned around, severe: “Ze Xu fell from Broken Soul Cliff, you and I both saw clearly that day. Let’s not deceive ourselves.”

“But……” Qiu Jing choked, her heart aching: “Ze Xu…… he……”

“Mistress……” Mo Wei comfortingly wrapped his arm around Qiu Jing’s shoulders and said softly: “I’m afraid someone’s pretending to be Ze Xu for some nefarious scheme……”

“Who can it be?” Qiu Jing wiped her tears. “Aiyou, unless they want that thing……”

“Our Grandmaster once said, things have already passed for a thousand years and the Jiao Clan has vanished. No one will ever know that thing is on TianYan Mountain……”

“That year, that thing was given to the ancestors for protection just in case something ever happens. Grandmaster split it up, giving one part to you and one part to apprentice-brother Lu Xiu. Unless something happened to him……”

Mo Wei frowned, obviously very worried: “Apprentice-brother Lu Xiu is full of talent though he has a stupid and stubborn disposition. However he’s now at LingBao Sect cleansing and repairing his body, the only worry being that he will cultivate incorrectly and cause an internal injury……”

“The five great sects of the Central Plains have only two feuding branches but the crooked Evil sects are numerous in number and difficult to counter.” Qiu Jing worried quietly: “Isn’t Yun Xiao going to visit apprentice-brother Bai Hui? Even if far, we must bring them back. Perhaps it’ll be an opportunity for someone to gather more experience.”

“Let’s do it then. QingYuan will take the journey.” Mo Wei sighed lightly. “I’m afraid this TianYan Mountain isn’t peaceful anymore.”

 

The sky is barely light.

The scholar slowly drifted outside Gu XiaoMo’s door and made a show of knocking the door. Since there was no answer, the scholar furrowed his brows and raised his voice: “Little Mushroom?”

He walked inside, his transparent head half emerging from the door. At the side hangs a paper screen that Gu XiaoMo hung up to prevent him from peeking on her bathing. He always forgot to tell her that the ghost repellent talismans she got are really no use, plus he’s not interested at all in that dry and shriveled body of hers, but…… there’s no one in the house?!

Immediately, the scholar jumps into Gu XiaoMo’s room. Her soft and messy little bed truly is empty, did she really wake up early? The scholar scratched his head, suddenly seeing a wrinkled slip of paper on a chair, weighted down by a fragrant jujube cake.

Cherished.

The calligraphy is beautiful, the ink running a little thick in places made wet by something.

The scholar stared, startled. Then his mouth began to curve up.

So it turns out she was afraid of having to bid farewell. He was quiet for a long time before raising the jujube cake to his mouth. It passed through his opaque body and landed on the ground. The first ray of sunlight shone and lit up the scholar in golden light that slowly dissipated into nothingness.

If she was there, he definitely wanted her know that this was the first time in these three years that he felt the sweet, fragrant taste of being alive.

Comparing today to yesterday is the same as comparing two different seasons.

 

Gu XiaoMo was sweeping clean the pavilion when the sun happened to break through the clouds. As though something was slowly being scattered, she looked toward the cliff and chanted a prayer under her breath though it might not work at all.

Three years of helping her every day is quite enough for such a bored busybody ghost. It’s also good if he’s gone……

Though she talks like this, once she’s in front of the pavilion her eyes are red.

“Apprentice-sister!” Suo Ying’s voice travels over from far away. Gu XiaoMo roughly rubbed at her face and pretended she was looking at the scenery.

Once Mo QingYuan’s handsome figure is sighted, this little apprentice-sister has no choice but to accompany him. Suo Ying entered the pavilion, surprised: “I can’t believe it’s been completely swept clean……”

Gu XiaoMo scratched her head, embarrassed: “I was the one who implicated you.”

Suo Ying was unhappy: “Aren’t we sisters? One family shouldn’t have different words!”

Gu XiaoMo stared, suddenly unable to speak. Mo QingYuan said appeasingly: “XiaoMo means well, next time just rise early and come with her to clean.”

Gu XiaoMo said hurriedly: “We’re both sisters so it doesn’t matter who cleans.”

Suo Ying glared but was unable to hold her disagreement for long. Soon she couldn’t help but break out into a smile like a flower. The three people in front of the pavilion talked and laughed until Du YuCheng and Du YuQi arrived with the rest of TianYan sect’s disciples. Then they were only waiting for Master and Mistress to begin morning lessons.

What was strange was that the usually early-arriving Mo Wei and Qiu Jing came late today.

The disciples didn’t ask and Qiu Jing went to the apprentice-brothers and sisters to teach them breathing exercises as usual. Mo Wei paused for a moment and greeted Mo QingYuan before entering the pavilion.

Du YuCheng sat outside the pavilion cultivating when he saw a faint red light in the sky. It traveled three feet at a leap and looked like a small dragon that circled a bit before it left. Gu XiaoMo and her apprentice-brothers and sisters stared mutely with wide eyes, unwilling to miss this fantastic sight. Qiu Jing glanced at it then quietly entered the cultivation pavilion.

“A fire skill?” Mo QingYuan gaped: “Dad……”

“This spell’s killing potential is strong. Originally, I wanted to wait a few years before passing it down to you all.” Mo Wei sighed lightly: “Fine, fine, you can only protect one side anyway, it’s about time you went down the mountain to gain experience……”

Once the eavesdropping Suo Ying heard that Mo QingYuan was about to leave the mountain, she jumped out from behind the rock: “Master, if apprentice-brother is going, I want to go too!”

Mo Wei looked at them. Qiu Jing has long advocated that that these two be allowed to be together and fulfill the wishes of their hearts, not to mention that the affection between these two has existed for a long time. So he smiled and nodded his head: “If you’re going then I don’t want to hear about any nonsense, understood?”

He really doesn’t understand how innocent this little girl Suo Ying is. Truthfully, she had only been able to admit from early on that she felt safe and warm around Big Apprentice-brother; she had never thought about the things that come with two people going out alone. So she only laughed: “Thank you very much, Mistress! Then…… can Big Apprentice-sister come along too?”

This made Qiu Jing freeze and calm down. Gu XiaoMo goes into a fugue but suddenly recovers in a panic and said: “I……It’s best if I don’t go……”

In Suo Ying’s heart, the best man is Mo QingYuan and the best woman is Gu XiaoMo. She has such a pure heart that Qiu Jing has to think for a bit. Then she hears Mo Wei speak: “This is also good. XiaoMo will come with you and all three of you can go down the mountain for experience.”

As it turns out, Mo Wei’s generation is against young people fooling around during serious cultivating though there are many opportunities. Men and women do not leave together. Gu XiaoMo leaves the mountain to gain experience with a bitter face. Isn’t it going to be full of facing the elements and sleeping outdoors, crossing mountains full of snow, and exterminating demons in your spare time? You also have to be merciless or if the job’s not done well then you’ll become someone’s dessert……

Suo Ying sees her frowning, bitter face. Suddenly she smiles and whispers secretly in her ear: “Big apprentice-sister, once we go down the mountain Master will forget about the matter of sweeping out the cultivation pavilion……”

……

Smart!

Gu XiaoMo face clears, all the clouds parting into a sunny sky.

 

End Chapter 3

 

XiaoZhi Peak: Remember that the dorms for female disciples are here. Only XiaoMo lives outside the usual disciple dorms because she still can’t master that basic flying sword spell.

Black face: Pretty sure it’s self-explanatory. Means someone’s very unhappy – glaringly angry in fact.

Ghost: In Pinyin, gui. I’ll be using ‘ghost’ and ‘spirit’ interchangeably for this term.

Not being proficient in magic: Cultivators in xianxia and such have ‘magic’ abilities that comes from their understanding of the Dao. As said by Master in Chapter 1, if you’re a cultivator you gotta have some of this ability to use the Dao or you might as well be a regular martial artist. Gu XiaoMo can’t even use that Level 1 Flying Sword Spell, which is why she feels bad.

Wild wandering spirit: Uh… Best way to explain this is that a ghost will generally go ‘bad’ if they stay in the world too long and don’t enter the reincarnation cycle like a good little ghost. If you’ve read Bleach (manga) it’s the same idea. Mostly.

Aiya: An expression of surprise, usually when it’s something alarming.

Broken Soul Cliff: The name actually has some meaning so I’m not leaving it in Pinyin. Actual Pinyin is something like Liao Duan Hun Ya (了断魂崖). By the way, the names of the peaks surrounding the main TianYan Peak are super uncreative: literally ‘Little Finger” and “Big Finger” and such. LOL

Aiyou: Used the same way as ‘Aiya.’ Just different characters.

Jiao Clan: Dragon Clan if you take the meaning but ‘Jiao’ might be an archaic character? I’ll leave it as Pinyin in case it makes a difference later.

Cleansing and repairing his body: Part of cultivation involves ‘washing’ the body clean of impurities and refining it into peak state. I assume this is what Lu Xiu is doing.

Sects: Traditionally sects are divided into the Righteous and Evil (yaomo xiedao) sects. TianYan is among the Righteous sects.

Cherished: This is what Google translate gave me but the meaning is closer to ‘valued’ or ‘respected’ if you ask me. It wouldn’t be out of place to use this word when celebrating your ancestors.

“Aren’t we sisters? One family shouldn’t have different words!”: Suo Ying is trying to say that people of the same family should stick together and move as one, AKA Gu XiaoMo shouldn’t take on the punishment by her lonesome. She’s actually being super supportive of Gu XiaoMo though I’m not sure if it comes through right in English.

 

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