Chapter 33: Reunion (Version 2.0)
Looking at the young man who seemed familiar yet strange, Shen Qingqiu’s limbs felt stiff and his throat dry.
Wasn’t he supposed to return after five years?
Shouldn’t Luo Binghe be in the abyss cutting his way through thistles and thorns, leveling up his sword skills? Why did he suddenly appear inside the Huan Hua Palace’s barrier?!
Why did he appear two years ahead of schedule? If one levels too fast, one’s safety can’t be guaranteed, Luo-ge!
Shen Qingqiu felt the urge to turn around, run down the stairs, run right out of Jinlan City, and not stop running until he had left this damned world behind. He had only recoiled one step back when he was blocked by Gongyi Xiao who asked: “Elder Shen? Why did you suddenly retreat?”
…Please use your eyes. Look at the expression on my face and read the atmosphere, Lord Gongyi Xiao!
Behind him, a low and soft voice came: “Shizun?”
Shen Qingqiu’s neck felt stiff as he slowly turned his head. Luo Binghe’s face was the most frightening thing he had ever seen.
The scariest thing about it was that the expression on his face was not cold at all. His smile wasn’t sharp like a knife. Rather, it showed a kind of bone-deep gentleness and amiability.
I’m going to go, you don’t have to be so scary!
The more tender Luo Binghe’s smile became, the more his opponent’s soul was crushed. This was definitely not a joke.
Shen Qingqiu was frozen in the stairway, stuck midway, his back covered with goosebumps.
Luo Binghe slowly approached and whispered: “It really is Shizun.”
His voice was light as a feather and every word that fell from his lips was clear. The sound of his footsteps made Shen Qingqiu’s heart jump as though he was going high-altitude bungee-jumping after an ice-bucket challenge.
His head was already on the guillotine so why shouldn’t he go up? Shen Qingqiu gathered his composure and summoned up his courage. The knuckles of his right hand that was holding his fan tightened, turning white and making the blue veins stand out. His left hand swept up the hem of his green robe as he lifted his foot one step, finally setting foot on the second floor.
Just one step and he already almost in tears.
When Luo Binghe participated in the Immortal Alliance Conference, he could still look down on him, but now Shen Qingqiu had to tilt his head up slightly to look at him. The imposing manner he wanted to present was somewhat undercut by this.
Fortunately, Shen Qingqiu has been putting on a cold, noble air for years and has a lot of experience in it. No matter how he feels inside, he can always put on a calm expression. After a long time, he managed to squeeze out a stern sentence from his tight throat: “…What on earth is going on here?”
Luo Binghe smiled slightly and seemed to have no intention of answering.
However, behind him the group of Huan Hua Palace’s disciples noisy chatter stopped abruptly.
Shen Qingqiu saw that these disciples’ attitude was very wrong.
Shen Qingqiu was a great scholar respected for learning and integrity whose fame had spread throughout the cultivation world in his early years, not to mention, he was revered by the younger generation. Even if he were to meet with his peers, there were few people who wouldn’t be respectful. However, the Huan Hua Palace disciples seemed to be full of hostility. They looked at him with unfriendly eyes and some of them had already drawn their weapons. In addition, Luo Binghe didn’t speak and just stood there. The group of disciples from a well-known righteous sect looked like a raid party ready to rush forward to kill a boss, like a bunch of evil henchmen about to kill and burn…
Young men, you’ve made a mistake! Don’t recklessly rush forward to guard someone. You want to protect that person behind you?! The fact that he didn’t attack someone is already good. The person who really needs to be protected is me!
Gongyi Xiao saw that the atmosphere was wrong. He walked forward between them and whispered: “Put your swords away! What scandalous behavior!”
Everyone then exercised some restraint. Those who had drawn their swords reluctantly sheathed them but their hostility towards Shen Qingqiu did not decrease.
No wonder. No wonder these people wouldn’t take notice of Gongyi Xiao. In the past, Gongyi Xiao was one of the top disciples. Which of his fellow disciples would have dared to not give him face? But now there was Luo Binghe who, after his blackening, has topnotch brainwashing skills. Now he is the absolute central authority. Even after ten thousand years, it would be impossible for anyone else to be the leader.
Shen Qingqiu was shocked and can’t understand it. When did Luo Binghe get involved with Huan Hua Palace? According to the original novel’s plot, it should be two years later!
The two groups stood stiffly for a while. Suddenly, a young maiden in a yellow jacket appeared on one side and cried: “You’re thinking about that at a time like this? Lord Luo, he… was harmed by that evildoer! Can’t you think about that first?”
Shen Qingqiu noticed that there was a human-shaped figure in the corner. It was that fake old lady.
He looked at Luo Binghe again. This time he noticed that a portion of his sleeve had been cut by a sword, exposing a small part of his wrist. Luo Binghe was quite pale and there were a few red spots on his wrist.
He subconsciously blurted out: “Are you infected?”
Luo Binghe glanced at him then shook his head sincerely: “It’s not important. Everyone is out of danger.”
Such a selfless and considerate attitude! For a moment, Shen Qingqiu could almost imagine that he was a cute and harmless little sheep grazing on the grass and playfully nudging Shen Qingqiu’s knees, bleating, “baa baa.”
Alas, the Huan Hua Palace disciples broke the mood by pouring cold water, mysteriously saying: “If Lord Luo has been infected with this place, Elder Shen would be very happy?”
… Shen Qingqiu began to seriously wonder what crime he had committed against the entire entire Huan Hua Palace.
Gongyi Xiao looked at Shen Qingqiu’s face and was very embarrassed. He reprimanded the disciples, saying, “Shut up, all of you!”
Shen Qingqiu looked indifferent. As an elder with a lot of experience, it was beneath him to argue with the youngsters who had been brainwashed by the protagonist. He simply lowered his hand. His sleeves naturally covered the back of his hand that had a red spot after encountering the fake old lady.
The disciple who had spoken, who had pock marks on half of his face, shut up but he still looked angry and unconvinced. Qin Wanyue said with a sigh: “It’s all our fault. If you hadn’t been protecting us, you wouldn’t have…”
Shen Qingqiu already had a rough idea of what this thing that was spreading in the city was. He really wanted to take a megaphone and shout in her ear: Girl, wake up! This isn’t a plague at all!
Shen Qingqiu dared to use his years of reading more than 20 million words of webnovels to fucking guarantee this: First of all! This thing was almost as painless to Luo Binghe as saline solution or glucose. Secondly! If Luo Binghe was hurt protecting others, there’s no need to worry over it since that was definitely his plan! Don’t you know that it’s the easiest way to raise someone’s favorable feelings?
Shen Qingqiu couldn’t bear the atmosphere of mourning at Huan Hua Palace. Of course, what he couldn’t bear the most was that he and Luo Binghe were silently watching each other, as if they were both waiting for the other person to open his mouth first.
He steeled himself and bit the bullet. Looking neither left nor right, he walked over to the fake old lady’s body. Drawing Xiu Ya, he cut the black cloth, revealing the body inside.
Sure enough, this “person” looked normal. Its body looked no different from that of an ordinary human. But that wasn’t the point.
The point was that it was red all over as though it had been scalded with boiling water from head to toe. However, the body wasn’t burned.
Shen Qingqiu said: “It’s a sower.”
A sower was a type of demon. Basically, Shen Qingqiu knew that in the demon world, a sower was similar to a peasant, farmer or, possibly, a wholesale distributor of food for the demon world.
Due to geographical and racial reasons, many creatures in the demon world, including some of the more sadistic demons, have peculiar physiological needs. Specifically, they like to eat rotten things. The more rotten it was, the more nutritious it was for the demons.
But where could one find many rotten things to eat?
That’s why the sower profession was needed. There was once a certain place in the demon world that was a popular feeding spot: The lord of that place would cross over to the human world to grab hundreds of living people at a time, then put them in an enclosed place like cattle. Then he would set the sowers loose inside. In less than seven days, the lord could open the door because the food would be rotten and ready. He could choose to take the people out to eat them or walk in and eat there.
This type of exotic eating habit is quite disgusting. Fortunately, the ancient demons, the elite nobles among the demons who have the most potent demon bloodlines and who cannot be compared to ordinary demons, do not seek this type of exotic flavor in their food. Otherwise, even if Luo Binghe grew up to be extraordinarily handsome, Shen Qingqiu feared that psychologically, it would be too hard for him to accept this type of weird setting. If he was that type of half-demon, the girls who kissed him would have to be very brave indeed, hahaha!
In the past, because this kind of profession was too anti-human, it aroused the anger of the cultivators, who launched a campaign to suppress the sowers. Many unsung heroes risked being infected and died. Within ten years, the sowers were almost extinct. Now they were hardly ever seen so it was normal for ordinary cultivators to not know of them. As for Shen Qingqiu, whenever he was idle, he liked to take out the messily piled up old books at Qing Jing Peak, thus he knew of them.
He made a very clear judgment, but unfortunately, he wasn’t taken seriously. Only Qin Wanyue was polite enough to gracefully reply: “What the Elder has said, Lord Luo already guessed. Just now, he told us all about the sowers in detail.” After that, the disciples of Huan Hua Palace looked up at Luo Binghe with admiration and longing, as if his face was bathed in a pure golden light.
It appeared! This was the legendary protagonist’s “overpowering wisdom halo” that had the “no matter what the protagonist says, his words will make people will feel as though their IQ was being crushed” effect!
Luo Binghe looked at Shen Qingqiu and said softly: “Everything I know was taught by Shizun.”
…The terrible thing was that Shen Qingqiu really felt as though his face was bathed by a soft light.
Damn. In the end, the villain isn’t even allowed to look cool. Is this the right time for the protagonist to show off? [waves bye bye]
Shen Qingqiu really can’t afford to waste his time in this strange atmosphere. In fact, the sowers were killed by the people of Huan Hua Palace, therefore they had the right to dispose of them. Shen Qingqiu said: “In that case, can I borrow this body for a look? Perhaps Mu Shidi will be able to discover something. It would be good to find a way to prevent the epidemic as soon as possible.”
Luo Binghe nodded. “Shizun’s every command will be obeyed. Disciple will deliver the body.”
Being called “Shizun” by him made every hair on Shen Qingqiu’s body stand on end. He finally knew how the original Shen Qingqiu must have felt when he faced Luo Binghe, who uttered honeyed words but hid a dagger up his sleeve because he didn’t know what Luo Binghe wanted to do!
With a flick of his sleeves, he stormed off. When he left the abandoned building, Shen Qingqiu was still in a very bad state. As he walked, he felt confused and disoriented. He could feel an evil influence coming from the soles of his feet. Gongyi Xiao caught up with him and, seeing that Shen Qingqiu was pale, he looked distracted and said apprehensively: “Elder Shen, I’m very sorry. In fact, I always knew but master ordered that everything concerning Lord Luo must be kept strictly confidential. Those who speak of this to outsiders will be expelled, so I dared not tell the truth.”
Shen Qingqiu: “I only ask one question of you. How did he end up here?”
Gongyi Xiao said, “It was Qin Shimei who rescued Lord Luo Gong who was seriously injured in Luo Chuan last year.”
Last year. In just one year, Gongyi Xiao supplanted as the Huan Hua Palace leader’s most trusted disciple. It seems that Luo Binghe’s invasion of Huan Hua Palace was not only earlier than the original timeline, but his efficiency was also improved. Indeed, Gongyi Xiao is a true cannon fodder who gets constantly kicked down from every first place position by the protagonist!
Shen Qingqiu said: “After being saved, why didn’t he go back to Cang Qiong Mountain sect?”
Gongyi Xiao watched Shen Qingqiu’s face, then said carefully: “After being rescued, Lord Luo seemed to be reluctant to talk about the past. When he was saying farewell he confided that… he won’t be returning to Cang Qiong Mountain sect and hoped that Huan Hua Palace can keep his whereabouts a secret. It seems that he intends to wander around the world. Master likes him very much and continues to detain him. Although, strictly speaking, they don’t have a formal master and disciple relationship, he is already being treated like a personal succeeding disciple.”
Luo Binghe’s act was the standard “white lotus silently endures suffering.” It was easy for people to guess why he didn’t go back. Maybe it’s Cang Qiong Mountain sect, especially Shen Qingqiu, sorry. At the time of the Immortal Sword Congress, there must have been some unspeakable secrets.
No wonder the disciples of Huan Hua Palace had been hostile to him just now. It wasn’t just Luo Binghe’s brainwashing skill. They were just following his lead since they knew Luo Binghe’s status in Huan Hua Palace.
A disciple of faction A went to faction B group then all the people from faction B, from the highest to the lowest-ranked, cried and asked him to stay, all the while hiding secrets so that no one would know about it – how unscientific and irrational! But this kind of thing was completely logical in the light of the protagonist halo!
Shen Qingqiu was silent. Gongyi Xiao thought he was sad and disappointed. His beloved disciple wasn’t dead, but he preferred to wander outside rather than go back to see him. He said, “Elder Shen doesn’t have to mind it too much. Lord Luo might just need to temporarily resolve some problem on his heart. In the past, he never left Huan Hua Palace but this time he volunteered to come. However, my fellow junior disciples… they must have some misunderstanding about Elder. I hope you won’t take offense.”
Shen Qingqiu’s heart was broken into tiny pieces.
He had painstakingly worked for many years to build a positive reputation but, as expected, the protagonist was still able to paint it a beautiful black!
Wrong! In fact, he wasn’t painted black at all because he wasn’t being wronged at all. In the end, he really did kick a person down into the abyss!
I shouldn’t think of excuses for my action!
Shen Qingqiu said: “What about you? Why didn’t you misunderstand?”
Gongyi Xiao was shocked and immediately said, “Although I don’t know what happened in the Juedi Valley, I believe that Elder isn’t the sort of person who would murder his disciple.”
Okay, let me tell you why… Because you and I are cannon fodder on the opposite side of the protagonist, we can understand and sympathize with each other’s situation.
Later the group pf Huan Hua Palace disciples followed. Shen Qingqiu inadvertently looked back, only to see Luo Binghe looking at them. His clasped his hands together and looked at them with the cool eye of a bystander.
When Shen Qingqiu saw him, his heart felt unsteady and weak, like a boat caught in a storm. Right now, though Luo Binghe was not very close to him and kept a decent smile on his face, his dark eyes were so cool and penetrating that Shen Qingqiu suddenly felt his heart grow cold.
Big brother, uncle! What’s the matter with you – two cannon fodder characters conversed and hugged each other to warm up, why are you offended?!
When they arrived at the Gold Weapon Shop, they found that the noise inside was so loud that it was almost enough to blow the roof off. This was all Liu Qingge’s doing. He was responsible for the most difficult task. After they had split up, Liu Qingge went off to capture some experimental subjects. The people in the city weren’t willing to cooperate so at this time, there wasn’t anything they could do except to solve the problem by force. What’s more, Liu Qingge was not a patient and reasonable person. His style was very consistent with the tradition of Bai Zhan Peak. He simply went out, grabbed more than a dozen burly men, then tied them to forging platform behind the lobby. Now it has become a research site for Mu Qingfang. A group of burly men was cursing and crying, as loud as a bunch of women.
Shen Qingqiu went to the underground treasury and explained the series of events to the others. He didn’t mention that he himself had been infected.
Great Master Wu Chen once again prayed to Buddha to preserve them and said: “Thanks to the Cang Qiong Mountain sect friends, things are finally getting better.”
Shen Qingqiu said: “I’m afraid it’s not that simple. The infected people couldn’t’ have infected each other. As recorded in the ancient books of Qing Jing Peak, the largest group of people affected by a sower is only three hundred. If the infected area in the whole city is so large then there is certainly more than one sower.”
Liu Qingge put his hand on the hilt and stood up. Shen Qingqiu knew that he was a man of action. He wanted to leave right away to find the other sowers and kill them. Shen Qingqiu said, “Slow down! I have something else to say.”
Mu Qingfang: “Shixiong, please speak.”
Shen Qingqiu didn’t know how to say it. He hesitated for a moment and then said, “Luo Binghe is back.”
The others’ reaction wasn’t much. Among the three of them, Great Master Wu Chen of the Zhao Hua Temple didn’t even know who Luo Binghe was. Mu Qingfang didn’t care much about anything except for medicine right now. Liu Qingge frowned, startled: “Your disciple? Didn’t he die at the hands of the demons at the Immortal Sword Conference?”
Shen Qingqiu found it increasingly more difficult to explain: “…he’s not dead. He came back alive.” Annoyed, he said, “You and I will go to patrol the city first. When we come back, we’ll talk.”
Mu Qingfang: “Yes. I dealt with the remaining sowers earlier. Fewer people should suffer now. I should also go and have a look at those patients.”
When he said that, Shen Qingqiu remembered Mu Qingfang’s set of shining silver surgical instruments. He had a complete set of scalpels and needles all spread out as though to carry out an autopsy. There were also hundreds of bottles and jars in his infinite storage space, all properly labeled with the description of their contents and effects. It was enough to make people turn pale or be scared out of their wits. He expected that when the group of burly men tied down to the forging platform saw that, they would really scream loud enough to blow the roof off.
Shen Qingqiu gave a dry laugh and was about to follow Liu Qingge out of the cellar. Suddenly, without warning, the sound of his own heartbeat seemed to become hundreds of times louder. Immediately afterward, his movements became sluggish.
Liu Qingge immediately noticed the abnormality and asked, “What happened?”
Shen Qingqiu didn’t answer. A spiritual force surged in his right hand but only a weak flow of spiritual energy passed through his body, unable to cause a spark.
I’m at such a critical juncture, but now you act up?!
Mu Qingfang whispered: “Without A Cure.”
Liu Qingge checked his pulse, paused for a moment, then decisively pressing him back: “Sit. Wait.”
Wait for what?! Wait for Luo Binghe knock on the door?! Shen Qingqiu stood up: “I’ll go with you.”
Liu Qingge: “Don’t get in the way.”
You’re the great master of Bai Zhan Peak. If you fly with me, who would be able to hinder us?
Mu Qingfang said: “Shen Shixiong, have you taken your medicine today?”
Shen Qingqiu really wanted to look up to the sky and shout, “I haven’t given up treatment!”
I obviously took my medicine on time this month! I also asked Liu to help clear my meridians of the poison in time. So why is it inexplicably acting up now like a bolt from the blue?! How confusing!
Right at that moment, a System notification sounded: [Protagonist Cool Points +100]
Do you mean to say that “Shen Qingqiu is out of luck; the protagonist is very cool”?!
Don’t you dare be so vague! System, explain why you suddenly added points!
Mu Qingfang said: “Shen Shixiong mustn’t overexert himself. Liu Shixiong is only thinking of your own good. It would do great harm to your body if you run around during a poison flare up. Stay here and rest. I will go get medicine. Wait for Liu Shixiong to return and use his spiritual energy to help you get through the attack.”
Shen Qingqiu stood up three times and was pressed back by Liu Qingge each time. Mu Qingfang’s tone was like that of an adult scolding a naughty child. Shen Qingqiu said: “Very well. Liu Shidi, listen to me. The sower has scarlet skin and is very infectious. If you encounter a suspicious thing that looks like it, don’t rush towards it. Attack from a distance. When you return you must come to my room. I have something important to discuss with you.”
The last sentence was the most important. Shen Qingqiu deliberately placed emphasis on those words.
Train an army for a thousand days to use it for one morning! Liu, you must protect me!
After two people left the cellar, Great Master Wu Chen said: “Shen Xianshi, don’t you think this is strange? The demon world has been silent for a long time, but in recent years, it has become active again. At the last Immortal Conference, many rare monsters came out again. And this time a sower that hasn’t appeared for a hundred years appeared in Jinlan City. I’m afraid it’s not a good sign.”
Not just that, these sowers have obviously been strengthened. Originally, there was no such stipulation that the infected people couldn’t move away a certain distance from the sower. Shen Qingqiu shared the same feeling: “The Great Master’s misgivings are why I can’t be at ease.”
Yes. Luo Binghe should have stayed in the abyss for another two years, but he was released in advance. This special circumstance can’t possibly be a good omen of things to come!
After the Great Master Wu Chen was infected, he suffered great damage to his body and Qi. Soon after their conversation, he became tired. Shen Qingqiu helped him lie down then tried to quietly sneak out of the cellar. Wu Chen hid in the cellar because he couldn’t be seen outside. Shen Qingqiu’s room was on the second floor of the weapons shop. Liu Qingge hadn’t come back yet so he couldn’t go to sleep yet. He just sat at the table in a daze. He thought wistfully of a little sheep, Luo Binghe, who would call out “Shizun” all day long. He even wished this was a different story. Then he thought about the black lotus Luo Binghe who made people feel uneasy from head to toe. He almost wanted to pull out his hair.
After a while, someone knocked on the door. The knock was neither light nor heavy.
Shen Qingqiu stood up from the table and said: “Liu Shidi? I’ve been waiting for you in the middle of the night, come in!”
Both sides of the door were suddenly slammed open.
Luo Binghe stood at the door of the room, backed by a boundless darkness, standing with his hands on his back, his lips curled slightly. His eyes were like cold pools thousands of fathoms deep.
He narrowed his eyes and said: “Shizun, good evening.”
—End Chapter 33—
Note from Reika: The link to the next chapter will take you to the BCNovels.com website.