unsheathed – Chapter 111: Bamboo Hat

Chapter 111: Bamboo Hat

Chapter 111: Bamboo Hat

A'Liang stopped drinking, and he re-tied the small silver gourd to his waist. However, his legs remained crossed, and the bamboo saber that the mountain lord from Go Table Mountain had carved for him rested flat across his knees. A'Liang lightly drummed the hilt and tip of the saber scabbard with his hands, causing it to see-saw up and down.

"Truth be told, I've actually been testing you this entire time you've already completed many tests. Your choices will determine how far I escort you, and to put it simply, I'll accompany you for a distance proportional to how many obstacles you can overcome."

Chen Ping'an nodded and replied, "After pondering for a while, I also started to develop some suspicions. However, I feel like there are all kinds of thoughts and ideas swimming around in your mind, so I've been unable to make heads or tails of it this entire time."

A'Liang wasn't surprised by this, and he openly revealed, "The first test was by the Dragon Whisker Creek. If you proved yourself to be a naive child who was ignorant of worldly affairs, and a foolishly kind person who would act only on impulse, then perhaps I would have only left the donkey to you. Afterward, I would have patted my hands and left. As for whether you could last until Wei Jin from Wind Snow Temple exited seclusion... Why would I have cared? After all, you would have died sooner or later. Caring about you would have been wasting my emotions."

A'Liang continued to recall the details and recount the tests that he had given Chen Ping'an, leaving the young boy completely dumbstruck. He had never imagined that A'Liang was such a careful and scrupulous person. Even more than this, he had never imagined that he had encountered so many strange and mysterious tests in his life.

"The third-last test was during the battle on Go Table Mountain. If it weren't for my purposeful provocation, the mountain lord Wei Bo and the two pythons wouldn't have acted in such a reckless manner. My hope was...

"The second-last test was when I tempted you to return to the bamboo forest to chop some more bamboo.

"And if everything goes according to plan, the current test will also be the final test. I initially wanted to accompany you and the others to Yefu Pass before leaving. However, some unexpected things have come up, so I have no option to leave beforehand."

There was a carefree smile on A'Liang's face as he continued, "Some tests were done on purpose, some were done tentatively, and some were done with the flow of the situation. I took exception to some of your choices, and I felt like they were as stubborn and pedantic to outworn rules as could be. However, some of your choices also left me feeling extremely delighted and content. This is the correct way to go about things.

"This is unlike the imperial examination system for scholars such as Qi Jingchun and Cui Chan, where they focus on truth and ability first and foremost. My decision to test and observe you from the background is similar to how experienced immortals from some sects pick their disciples the focus is on your character rather than your talent."

A smile of self-ridicule appeared on A'Liang's face, and he asked, "Do you feel like I'm playing around out of boredom because I have too much time on my hands? Or perhaps I have a devilish mind filled with evil schemes?"

Before Chen Ping'an could even reply, he had already offered an answer for himself, saying, "How could I have so much spare time? Someone as mighty as me is extremely busy, okay?"

Chen Ping'an dragged his feet onto the bench and lazily crossed his legs. He held his face in his hands and asked, "A'Liang, is it because I'm acquainted with Mr. Qi? Is this why you're putting so much effort into me?"

A'Liang's expression became solemn, and he replied, "Far too many distractions and temptations lie on the path of cultivation. Li Huai's Severed Water Cliff and Lin Shouyi's cultivation talent can all be sold and transformed into stepping stones for you. However, Qi Jingchun's disciples shouldn't suffer such a tragic fate. This is especially the case for Li Baoping. She's such a great child, so just thinking about her being deeply saddened and disappointed by her junior uncle causes my heart to shatter."

A'Liang was barely able to remain serious for a minute, and he quickly reverted back to his old self again, saying with a smile, "Ah... Old men like us are able to endure our home nations falling and mountains and rivers sinking. However, we're always unable to contain ourselves when it comes to trivial things of happiness like these."

Chen Ping'an grabbed a tanghulu that hadn't been sat on by A'Liang and slowly chewed at it, asking in a muffled voice, "A'Liang, what do you think about me right now? If you feel like I'm not suitable, can you ask a friend to accompany Baoping and the others to Great Sui Nation? I'm not afraid of facing hardship, truly. I'm only afraid of disappointing Mr. Qi and failing to protect Baoping and the others."

"Don't try to escape, brat. You're genuinely the most suitable person for this task. Qi Jingchun might not be good at other things, but his ability to choose people is truly top-notch. Of course, this is unless that old man personally came to accompany them... Anyway, let's not mention that old geezer. Bloody coward who shrinks into his shell like a turtle. Stingy and miserly old scholar. Just the mention of him makes me angry..."

A'Liang fixed his bamboo hat and looked up into the distance. He clicked his tongue in wonder and mused, "Oh? The emperor of the Great Li Empire is quite an interesting person too. Impressive, quite impressive. Since I still have some time left, let me chat with you about some of the more useless things. I'll also take this opportunity to explain why I'm willing to put so much time and effort into you."

A'Liang also crossed his legs like Chen Ping'an. He placed his saber across his knees and explained slowly, "Regardless of whether one is a martial artist or Qi refiner, the biggest taboo in cultivation is to be sloppy and indecisive. Thus, following one's heart when dealing with others is a common shortcut. However, difficulties still arise due to the convictions in their minds.

"Militarian cultivators will never consider 'retreat'. Martial artists are most likely unable to escape this restriction as well. In their minds, advancing against the flow is a form of bravery and progress. This is a fight for ascension and a fight to reach the heavens.

"Daoists like to examine their own conscience, Buddhists like to observe their past life and future life, and Confucians like to abide by rules and customs. Mohists are slightly stranger, in that they hold universal concern for the welfare of the world. They have a strong sense of chivalry, and they're not especially fond of talking about longevity. They're like Fictionists[1] who have great ambition but little talent they want to create an idyllic world like that on their pages.

"The human mind is fragile and brittle like glass it can't withstand much scrutiny. Qi Jingchun was a stubborn and conceited scholar who wasn't willing to probe. So, let me do the probing for him. How can one be careless when it comes to matters regarding the inheritance of a lineage? If you're nothing more than an embroidered pillow[2] or someone who can't resist temptations, then what will happen in the future? Qi Jingchun might be dead, but I'm still alive. He'll be unseeing and unfeeling at that time, but I'll be disgusted to death! You have to understand that being able to endure hardships and being able to resist temptations are two completely different matters."

A'Liang sighed and remarked, "This is most likely a case of the eunuchs being more worried than their emperor[3], huh?"

"A'Liang, you don't need to worry," Chen Ping'an replied earnestly. "Even though I like money, I only like money that I've earned with my own hands. If it's someone else's money, I won't take it even if it's been dropped on the floor. Instead, I'll try to look for its owner."

A'Liang smiled and commented, "Your words aren't wrong. However, you can use the money first if the situation truly calls for it. You can remember this debt and repay it in the future, adding some interest to it as well. This way, both parties will be happy. This is what a genuinely good person would do. Otherwise, will you truly guard that money and end up starving yourself to death?"

"Then how will I know whether a situation truly calls for it?" Chen Ping'an asked.

A'Liang pointed at his heart before shifting his finger and pointing at his head. "You can use the sum of money if you can pass these two tests."

Chen Ping'an's eyes lit up in understanding. He nodded earnestly and said, "A'Liang, even though you're not well-read, you're indeed someone who's traveled around and experienced quite a bit. Your words have helped me understand a lot."

A'Liang rubbed his nose and said, "Why do your words of praise seem inferior to even Li Huai's?"

He leaned against the railing and gazed at the bright moon hanging above the corridor, saying with emotion, "Do you know? In the eyes of Qi Jingchun and the other scholars, your stubbornness to abide by outworn rules is actually regarded as upstanding, genuinely upstanding, where your actions agree with your mind. This is the quality of being upright like a virtuous person and standing on the side of righteousness when dealing with matters."

A'Liang laughed heartily and pointed at the slightly baffled young boy, continuing, "Haha, you should already know about these things, hillbilly, money grubber, little miser. However, it's exactly because of this that you're very similar to when that old geezer was young. In reality, Qi Jingchun had a terrible temper when he was the same age as you. Instead, it's the old geezer who everyone regards as an old bloomer who was the same as you. He was extremely contemplative from a young age, and his temper was also very good. He was just like a Bodhisattva that had been made from clay he was destined to sit on the altar alongside the other deities..."

A'Liang's voice became softer and softer as he spoke, but he suddenly raised his voice and said, "Of course, I've become accustomed to acting as I please, so I'm not a very big fan of your way of going about things. It was because of this kind of feeling that I rejected a young boy's request at that time. Mhm, he was around the same age as you. I often wonder to myself if things would have turned out better than now if I had taken him with me to explore the world.

"In the end, I told him this Believe me, you'll enjoy more success as a scholar than a swordsman. The world is so small, so just having me, A'Liang, is enough. However, knowledge is infinite like a boundless ocean, right? So, there's no need for you to eat dust behind me."

Qi Jingchun grinned and continued, "I've come to the Great Li Empire because I want to chatter with some people. I want to tell them that someone cares about the matters that Qi Jingchun perhaps didn't."

A'Liang mysteriously extended his hand and casually flicked a finger.

In the bookstore located in the small alley next to River Viewing Street, the handsome young man who referred to himself as Li Jin from the Rushing Tranquil River suffered a hammer blow to the forehead. He was sent flying back. Not only did he crash into the bookshelf, but he even crashed through the wall into the neighboring shop, terrifying the shop clerk who was nodding off behind the counter.

"This is a fight between immortals, so just stand aside and watch," A'Liang murmured. "You're nothing but a measly koi, so do you really think you've witnessed all of the grand rivers and crashing waves in the world? I, A'Liang, have seen more large rivers than Li Huai has eaten grains of rice! Do you think I'm exaggerating? I've never exaggerated in my life!"

A'Liang then made a grabbing motion at the void. Next to the courtyard wall in the distance, a small green darkness fish struggled in vain like a fish that had taken the bait. With a quick tug, the green darkness fish landed in his palm. More surprisingly, the fish that should have been on the verge of death after having its link with its owner severed was even more lively and energetic than before. It appeared leisurely as it swished its tail and swam around A'Liang's palm.

A'Liang turned to Chen Ping'an and explained, "I'll let Li Huai raise it in his Severed Water Cliff when we return. Hmm...? Why does it seem like that little bastard always enjoys dumb luck from out of nowhere? Did Li Huai always step on dog ** in the small town and not clean his shoes[4]?"

A childish voice rang out in the distance, shouting, "A'Liang, you're the one who steps on dog ** every day!"

Chen Ping'an turned to A'Liang, and the man chuckled softly and said, "There's no need to worry. The three of them only returned a short while ago, so they're not aware of what happened with Zhu He and Zhu Lu. Regarding their 'sudden departure', you can just find some random excuse to explain it."

After saying this, he waved his hand and hollered, "Stop eavesdropping by the wall! Come on over! It's time to share some spoils!"

Li Baoping, Li Huai, and Lin Shouyi arrived in the corridor one after another. Li Baoping sat on Chen Ping'an's right, while Li Huai sat on his left. However, Li Huai suffered the exact same fate as A'Liang. He cursed in anger as he stood up to pluck the tanghulu from his rear. However, his frown quickly turned into a delighted grin, and he threw the tanghulu into his mouth without a second word. Meanwhile, Lin Shouyi quietly sat down beside A'Liang.

A'Liang handed a stack of yellow paper talismans to Lin Shouyi and said, "Make sure to carefully study them and don't let them go to waste. Qi Jingchun once said that there's a profound mystery in the small town's Fortune Street and Peach Leaf Alley. Even today, there's still a significant fated opportunity hiding in those streets."Th. most uptodat nvels are published on n(0)velbj)n(.)co/m

A'Liang patted the aloof young boy's shoulder and continued, "No matter what, you're the first genuine cultivator among the four of you. As such, you need to cherish your future even more."

Lin Shouyi nodded and solemnly accepted the stack of yellow paper talismans, placing it under his clothes next to the Recite Atop Clouds Scripture.

A'Liang turned to the furtive Li Huai and snapped, "Where's your crappy book? Take it out."

"Why do you want it?" Li Huai retorted. "You need to give me 10 taels of silver first!"

A'Liang snapped his fingers, causing the hidden green darkness fish to materialize before the four children. Apart from Chen Ping'an, the remaining three children all widened their eyes in surprise.

"Now take your crappy book out and flip to a random page," A'Liang said with a disdainful expression. "I just need to place this fish inside. In terms of how to raise it... You can figure that out yourself. I'm not going to serve you anymore."

Li Huai jumped up and retrieved the Severed Water Cliff. After opening it, he dashed forward and forcefully closed the book over the green darkness fish. A soft whine vaguely traveled out from the pages.

A'Liang rubbed his forehead and asked, "Who wants the remaining donkey?"

Li Huai immediately put up his hand and exclaimed, "Me, me, me! Can I sell it? Or can I kill it and make donkey stew when I get hungry?"

A'Liang didn't want to speak.

Li Huai's voice suddenly became soft, and he asked timidly, "A'Liang, you're not about to die, are you? You're not speaking your last words, right?"

A'Liang rolled his eyes and spat, "Piss off; piss off with your family as far away as you can."

Li Huai sighed and returned to his seat next to Chen Ping'an. "My parents and sister are already far away enough."

In the end, there was a tinge of sadness in his voice as he begged, "So A'Liang, don't leave us, okay? I won't curse you in the future anymore."

A'Liang wanted to say something, but he ultimately decided against it. He untied his small silver gourd and tossed it to Li Baoping, telling him, "Catch. This small gourd is one of the best Sword Nurturing Gourds in the world. Ordinary Sword Nurturing Gourds are nowhere near its level."

He then stood up and stretched lazily. "I feel so much lighter now."

He glanced down at his green bamboo saber before looking up and asking with a smile, "Little Baoping, can I borrow your saber Auspicious Talisman for a bit?"

Li Huai immediately shot up in excitement. "A'Liang, are you going to fight someone? I'll help you..."

A'Liang looked at him with suspicion and questioning in his eyes.

The little boy laughed dryly and added, "I'll help wave flags and cheer for you!"

Li Baoping's little legs pumped like a flywheel as she quickly ran over and handed the saber to A'Liang with both hands.

A'Liang wore the saber named Auspicious Talisman by his waist.

At some unknown time, Chen Ping'an, Li Baoping, Li Huai, and Lin Shouyi ended up standing in a straight line before the man wearing the bamboo hat.

A'Liang twiddled the brim of his bamboo hat with two fingers and laughed loudly, "You guys never believed me before when I told you how strong I am or how incredible my swordsmanship is. In fact, you even liked to scold me for bragging. You kids... You're still too young and naive. I was afraid of frightening you guys, so I even went as far as to purposely pick some trivial matters to brag about. For example, drawing and resheathing my blade so quickly that no splashing water can enter the scabbard."

There was a wide smile on A'Liang's face, and he asked, "You guys don't believe me, right?"

He looked toward some dark corner first, ordering, "Shield them."

Some person nodded.

The man who had worn a bamboo hat the entire time, ever since he had met them, finally took it off for the first time. He casually tossed it into the air. However, before the bamboo hat could even hit the floor, it had already transformed into a puff of fine powder that flew away with the wind.

At the same time, with the saber-wielding man as the epicenter...

The ground within a radius of 500 kilometers shook violently as if a colossal bull were stirring under the earth.

A'Liang instinctively reached up to fix his bamboo hat. Upon realizing that it was already gone, he scratched his head and cleared his throat, chuckling, "My name is A'Liang, Liang as in kindness."

1. This is one of the Hundred Schools of Thought, and disciples from this school of thought record the conversations and folklore from the common world.

2. An "embroidered pillow" refers to someone who's attractive on the outside but lacking substance on the inside.

3. This refers to observers being more worried than the person involved.

4. Dumb luck is literally written as "dog ** luck" in Chinese.

Chapter end

Chapter 31: Beating Around the Mountain
Chapter 32: Peach Leaf
Chapter 33: White Dragon Disguising as a Fish
Chapter 34: Gathered Together
Chapter 35: Licorice Root
Chapter 36: Ancient Book
Chapter 37: Fist Technique
Chapter 38: Ninth Tier
Chapter 39: Cursing the Locust Tree
Chapter 40: Returning the Courtesy
Chapter 42: Prodigy
Chapter 43: The Young Boy and the Old Dog
Chapter 44: Coming to Light
Chapter 45: Sunlight
Chapter 46: Skirt Dagger
Chapter 47: Going Alone
Chapter 48: The Hunter and the Hunted
Chapter 49: Porcelain Shard
Chapter 50 (1): One Who is Destined for Great Things
Chapter 50 (2): One Who is Destined for Great Things
Chapter 51: Confrontation
Chapter 52: Shudder
Chapter 53: Gift
Chapter 54: Facing the Enemy
Chapter 55: Feeling Proud in the Spring Breeze
Chapter 56: Nodding Bodhisattva
Chapter 57: Sword Nurturing Gourd
Chapter 58: Teacher
Chapter 59: Sleep
Chapter 60: There's a Ghost
Chapter 61: Helpless Pawn
Chapter 62: Falling Tree
Chapter 63 (1): So That's How It Is
Chapter 63 (2): So That's How It Is
Chapter 64: The Three Chens
Chapter 65: Jewel
Chapter 66: Looking Up
Chapter 67 (1): Long Journey
Chapter 67 (2): Long Journey
Chapter 68: Spring Under the Heavens
Chapter 69: Night
Chapter 70: Daylight
Chapter 71 (1): I’ll Like You for a While Longer
Chapter 71 (2): I’ll Like You for a While Longer
Chapter 72: Black Cloud
Chapter 73: Wooden Figure
Chapter 74: The Fire Dragon Roams the Water
Chapter 75: Mountain Selection
Chapter 76: Back to Back
Chapter 77: Entering the Mountains
Chapter 78: Another Dream
Chapter 79: Spring Welcome Seal
Chapter 80: Leaving the Mountains
Chapter 81: Imperial Preceptor
Chapter 82 (1): Master and Student, Senior Brother and Junio
Chapter 82 (2): Master and Student, Senior Brother and Junio
Chapter 83: Dreams
Chapter 84 (1): I Have a Sword
Chapter 84 (2): I Have a Sword
Chapter 85 (1): Conclusion of the Examination
Chapter 85 (2): Conclusion of the Examination
Chapter 86 (1): Walking the Same Path
Chapter 86 (2): Walking the Same Path
Chapter 87 (1): Little Teacher
Chapter 87 (2): Little Teacher
Chapter 88: Grand Entrance
Chapter 89: Two Heads
Chapter 90: Heavy Rain
Chapter 91: Jade Hairpin
Chapter 92 (1): Bamboo Bookcase
Chapter 92 (2): Bamboo Bookcase
Chapter 93 (1): There's a Character on the Wall
Chapter 93 (2): There's a Character on the Wall
Chapter 94: A Feast for the Eyes
Chapter 95: Too Small a Place
Chapter 96: Demons in the Mountains and Rivers
Chapter 97: Bowing to the Mountain
Chapter 98: The Meddlesome Mountain God
Chapter 99: The Mountain God and the Bamboo Saber
Chapter 100 (1): The World Beneath One's Feet
Chapter 100 (2): The World Beneath One's Feet
Chapter 101: Guard the Mountain
Chapter 102: Soaring White Ray
Chapter 103: Bamboo Building
Chapter 104: Sharing the Spoils
Chapter 105: Rootless Duckweed
Chapter 106: People from All Walks of Life
Chapter 107: Fishing Net
Chapter 108: Spring Hunting
Chapter 109: The Young Boy Has Some Words to Say
Chapter 110: All Good Things Must Come to an End
Chapter 111: Bamboo Hat
Chapter 112: Powerful Individual
Chapter 113: Unparalleled Might
Chapter 114: Seeing A'Liang Again
Chapter 115: There's an Old Scholar In the World (1)
Chapter 116: There's an Old Scholar In the World (2)
Chapter 117 (1): There's an Old Scholar In the World (3)
Chapter 117 (2): There's an Old Scholar In the World (3)
Chapter 118 (1): There's Righteousness In The World
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