Chapter 131 Jingling (Part 1)
He was climbing stairs.
The sun was scorching, and he was only halfway up the Sky Sects’ three thousand long steps. His head was full of sweat.
A gust of wind passed over his head, and his long hair flew from its blows. He was slightly curious, raised his head, and saw someone passing by with a sword.
He heard mighty cultivators in the Nascent Soul Stage could fly with swords. He had already met such a powerful master before entering the sect.
Was this the legendary immortal sect in the Eastern Continent?
The longing in his heart worsened, and he touched the black jade hanging on his neck.
Finally, he reached the end of the long steps, and someone was standing there.
The man was donning white. He was beautiful, gentle, and looked very kind. When he saw him, he fixed his gaze momentarily, staring from his face to his body. Then he walked toward him with a smile.
“Finally. I’ve been waiting for you.”
The other party told him he was called Rong Ran.
It turned out that this was the name of the person he saved in the peach valley.
He was curious and observed the surroundings. Everything in the sect made him feel novel.
When he walked through the outer sect, Zangxiu Peak, he saw a very tall tree on the top of the peak. It had brilliant red leaves and golden flowers intertwined, which looked beautiful.
Rong Ran noticed his gaze and introduced it with a chuckle.
“That’s the Jinling tree at the outer sect. The Jinling tree blooms all year round. It has been in the outer sect for more than a hundred years and always has been so lush, scenery for the outer sect.”
He ignorantly nodded and asked: “Is Senior Brother going to take me to the outer sect to cultivate?”
“No.” Rong Ran said gently, “Senior Brother will take you directly to the inner sect. You will follow Senior Brother to cultivate in the future. That’s right, the resources of the inner sect are much richer than those of the outer sect. You are my lifesaver, and I will not mistreat you.”
Rong Ran took him to Yanhui Peak’s inner sect.
Rong Ran arranged for him to live there and gave him the basic techniques of the sect, as well as sword techniques. He also warned him that one’s appearance was the most useless item for cultivators.
The other party gave him a mask and told him to wear it.
He listened to Rong Ran’s words extensively and strongly relied on him, trusting him completely.
Just like how they depended on each other in the peach forest’s deep valley.
Even though wearing a mask every day aroused strange looks from his fellow sect members.
He stayed in Sky Sect for many years just like this. Apart from Rong Ran, he did not have a close friend.
Rong Ran was also very good to him.
He often visited, took care of him, sent him pills for resources, and taught him sword cultivation.
Until that secret realm fire broke out.
He sat alone in the courtyard, wondering why he brought the pill back for Rong Ran, but the other party came to see him less and less.
As if separated from him by a long distance.
Because of his childhood experience, the cold and deep walls of the Yaori Palace gave him a deep-set trauma, and he was terrified of loneliness.
Rong Ran had left him once in the peach blossom valley that year.
He didn’t want to be left behind by the other party again.
Thus, he deliberately went to see Rong Ran, but the other party consistently avoided seeing him.
The resources and cultivation exercises he would’ve brought to him in the past utterly disappeared.
He was forced to learn to cultivate alone in the Sky Sect.
He had to go to Xingquan Peak to take up sect missions and be surrounded by disciples of the same sect, who made things difficult for him. A man with a high crown in a black outfit casually released a sword blow to relieve him.
That sword light was beautiful.
With his cultivation base and vision at the time, he had never seen such a beautiful sword technique.
He heard those sect disciples call that person:
Senior Brother He Lanze.
He was thinking about the other party helping that time and how the sword light had dazzled him. He plucked up the courage to talk to the other party in the mood of wanting to befriend him.
He Lanze had obviously forgotten what happened at the time.
His temperament looked down on worldly affairs. He was very impatient with people asking questions.
After he made repeated attempts, they all failed.
It wasn’t until the gift he prepared by himself was trampled at the other party’s birthday banquet that he knew that perhaps, the other party’s heart did not have a good impression of him.
The courage he plucked up was gone.
So he withdrew himself again.
He no longer looked for Rong Ran, and he no longer asked He Lanze for questions.
He ate alone, cultivated alone, and read a book in his bamboo building alone. The days were long, and being alone didn’t seem so unbearable.
He accepted a sect mission and needed to deliver a letter to the outer sect.
When he came back through the Shuofeng Cliff, he saw the lush Jinling tree again.
The tree full of bell-like flowers swaying in the wind was incredibly cute.
He couldn’t help but walk over.
However, he discovered a person lying under the Jinling tree.
It should be a young male or a young girl.
Blood was flowing out of that person.
He walked quickly over.
After turning the person over, he took a gasp of air.
The man’s appearance was burnt and scarred. He was hideous.
If he wasn’t used to seeing himself burned in the mirror, he was afraid he would’ve fled because of the shock when he saw the other person’s face.
It’s just that the person’s actual wound was not on his face.
But on his waist and abdomen.
Several deep whip marks crossed the other party’s waist, and his wounded clothes were torn open. His flesh and blood were exposed. It was visible that the whip’s wielder had no mercy.
How could someone deal with a Sky Sect disciple with such a heavy hand?
He frowned deeply, tore off his white clothes, helped the man deal with the wound on his waist and abdomen, and bandaged it properly.
He gave the other party a few healing pills and observed the other side’s situation.
The other party woke up quickly.
When he continued to feed him the medicine, he unhurriedly opened his eyes.
The other party’s face was ugly with scars, but he had a pair of beautiful eyes. Those eyes were very dark and heavy but a bit hollow.
The other party looked down at the white clothing tied to the wound on his waist and abdomen, then stood up forcibly. He did not say any thanks and turned to leave.
He called the other party. He raised his voice and asked.
“Who are you a disciple to? Torture is forbidden in the sect. Who on earth caused you to suffer such severe injuries?”
The person did not speak.
He continued to amble step by step. His actions resembled those of a stiff puppet.
He frowned, worrying about the other party. He stepped forward to grab him.
The other party’s body was thin and only reached about his shoulders. Looking at the figure alone, one couldn’t distinguish him between man and woman.
He softened his voice and asked, “What is your name?”
The other party looked up at him, and his dark eyes were akin to a pool of stagnant water.
He said: “Do you not want to speak? Or do you have no way to speak?”
The other party still did not speak as if he was indeed mute.
But even if he was mute, he should give some reaction.
He couldn’t help being discouraged.
He wondered if he really couldn’t associate with people.
The sky was dark.
Pulling him around like this wouldn’t do.
Moreover, he had heard that the outer disciples all had night restrictions. Being late might cause this person to be punished more severely, so he could only let the other party go back. But he couldn’t help but call the other party again. He hurriedly organized his words and said: “I… I like to see flowers. I’ll come to Shuofeng Cliff for a spin when I’m free. If you still get punished in the future, come here and look for me. Senior Brother will definitely get justice for you.”
It was the first time he called himself a senior in front of other disciples. His cheeks were fairly red, but his face was invisible, hidden under the mask.
The other party’s footsteps paused, then disappeared into the night.
The second time they saw each other under the Jinling tree, it was already half a month later.
He didn’t know if it was because the other party’s whiplash was too shocking at the time or because the other party’s scars on his face made him feel sorry for having the same problem, but he had never forgotten that thin figure. He would sporadically go to the outer sect to look to see if anyone was waiting for him on Shuofeng Cliff.
He spotted a thin figure standing under the tree with a disciple’s robe from a distance. The wind blew through the man’s clothing, making it appear empty. He hurriedly walked over and found nothing on the man this time. There were no visible scars, and the scar-covered face didn’t show anything. However, his bare hands looked pale, and his wrists were slender as if one snap could break them.
The man blinked when he saw him coming. The dark hollow in his eyes seemed to dissipate a little, and the morning light shone in. A little light appeared.
He gazed at him in worry, “Did you come here to find me on purpose?”
The other party finally reacted this time and nodded.
“Is someone punishing you again? Where is the injury; do you need my help?” He asked with concern.
The other party shook his head.
Then he took out a thing from his arms.
It was a flower.
A butterfly-shaped pure white flower. The flower had bloomed beautifully, and the petals were still full of morning dew.
The other party handed him the flower.
He was startled.
“Why, why are you giving me a flower…” he paused.
He had a superb memory and quickly recalled the excuse he had told: he liked to see flowers, so he would often come to the Jinling tree. He had just said it casually then and didn’t expect him to remember it.
It was the first time someone had gifted him flowers.
He pursed his lips. He took the flower and rubbed the head of the person in front of him tentatively. He said softly, “Thank you. I like it very much.”
There was no reaction from the person before him. He just let him rub him, and his eyelashes drooped and fluttered. He looked like a very well-behaved little animal.
“What’s your name?” he asked again.
The person before him blinked.
He helplessly said: “So you really can’t speak. Are you literate?”
The person before him shook his head.
He became more helpless, “You still need a name to be called.” He glanced at the golden bell flowers falling all over: “We met at the Jinling tree, so how about…..I call you Ling Er?”
The other side blinked again and didn’t shake his head to refuse.
So was the other party acknowledging this name?
“Ling Er.” He repeated the name, feeling like it was deeply adorable.
Although, it didn’t quite match the lifeless appearance of the person before him.
Ling Er blinked.
He felt like the other party was like a little animal that only moved with a poke. Those inky eyes were a little adorable after he looked at them for a while.
Thinking of the wounds on the other party’s body before, he felt even more pity.
If Ling Er had such a personality, he probably had no such thing as a friend among the sect members.
Just like him.
After thinking about it, he took the other person’s hand, sat under the tree, and talked about a couple of engaging things in and out of the sect.
He really didn’t know how to make conversation. He had been alone for a long time and couldn’t talk anymore. The content was dry. Even he felt a little embarrassed. Yet, when he turned his head, he found Ling Er appearing earnest. So, he regained his confidence and continued speaking.
By the evening, Ling Er had to go back.
After this time, he would see Ling Er under the Jinling tree every few days.
Ling Er brought him different flowers every time he came.
Those flowers were so delicate and pretty, and he brought them back and placed them in the vase in his study. He was in a good mood these days.
He told Ling Er about the intriguing things inside and outside the sect. After concluding the fascinating things, he talked about swordsmanship, cultivation, and his life. Ling Er was an excellent listener. No matter what he said, he listened very attentively.
He didn’t actually adapt to loneliness as he thought.
Being accompanied by someone and staying alone in that empty bamboo building was different.
He began to look forward to his every encounter with Ling Er.
The Jinling tree bloomed all season and was lush. It had never altered its appearance from early spring to late winter.
A tacit agreement was seemingly between them: they would meet under the Jinling tree in the middle of each month.
Thin snow would be on Qingyun Mountain during the deep winter.
He finished speaking all the things he had accumulated over the past month and looked sideways, only to find that Ling Er was asleep.
It was rare.
Ling Er was sincere and focused every time he listened to him. His dark eyes would seem to gleam.
Was he too tired?
Or was it too frigid in the winter, making him want to fall asleep?
Ling Er’s clothes were a bit too thin. Although cultivators didn’t fear the cold, Ling Er’s cultivation base had not yet reached Foundation, so he should still feel more or less chilly.
Thus, he took out a thin blanket from his storage ring and wanted to put it on him.
When he approached, he smelled a bloody odor overflowing from Ling Er’s clothes.
He took Ling Er back to his bamboo building and undid his clothes. The dense scars on his body unsettled him.
Many of those scars were aged wounds, while some were still fresh and bleeding.
How could it be so?
He clenched his fists.
He didn’t locate any exposed scars on Ling Er these days. Initially, he believed the occasional rage of the other party’s teacher had rendered the whip marks on Ling Er’s body. Moreover, Ling Er didn’t request his help, so he didn’t want to interfere with the other party.
Unexpectedly, the abuse Ling Er suffered had never ceased.
Did he come with scars all over his body every time they met? He didn’t even notice it.
He took out medicine for Ling Er, mended the bleeding wound with a bandage, then sat at the bedside. He waited for the other party to wake up.
When Ling Er awakened, his eyes were still somewhat misty.
The outside world was dimming. Ling Er blinked and wanted to get out of bed.
He held Ling Er’s hand and said solemnly:
“You’re not allowed to go anywhere today. Stay here and recover.”
Ling Er blinked in perplexity, looking down at the bandage on his body.
“Why didn’t you tell me you got hurt?” he asked, “Those people… How long have they been doing this to you?”
Ling Er didn’t answer.
He felt discouraged again.
He sat on the edge of the bed, and moonlight poured in. He was seated beside Ling Er so the other couldn’t secretly leave. He scowled, pondering for a long time.
He made a decision.
“You will stay with me from now on. Don’t go back. No matter what, I will shield you.” He said, “It’s just, are you an outer disciple? It might be inconvenient to live in the inner sect. It happens that my cultivation base is already reaching Golden Core. I can choose a disciple from the outer sect to accept as a disciple according to sect rules.”
He stared at Ling Er, “Would you like to be my disciple?”
Ling Er’s shadowy eyes looked at him. His pupils reflected the moonlight and his figure, and something was seemingly in their depths.
After a long while, he nodded unhurriedly.
He breathed out slowly.
The decision to accept a disciple was impulsive; it was just to keep Ling Er in the inner sect and avoid others’ harm.
But he wasn’t ever taught by a master since he had entered the sect; he didn’t know how to be a teacher to other people.
Moreover, he had always regarded Ling Er as his friend, but now that he was a senior, he couldn’t help but blush. With a light cough, he said: “Tomorrow, I will take you to the sect to register and get an identity token. You need a name; I can’t always call you Ling Er, Ling Er…”
He also remembered that Ling Er was illiterate, unable to speak, and didn’t even know his own name. But it was better to get the identity token as soon as possible if Ling Er desired a stable life in the inner sect, so he said: “Let’s do this first. For now, you will follow my surname. We will first get your identity token, and once you’re older and know your words, you can change your identity token.”
Ling Er was very well-behaved. He only obediently nodded his head at his arrangement.
On the second day, he held the token engraved with the words “Ye Ling” and rubbed it in his hand as if he liked it very much.
He purchased new clothes for Ling Er, made another soft bed, and helped tidy him up.
The empty bamboo building finally gained some character.
He didn’t know what he should do, being a Master for the first time.
As a result, he took many books on the path to being a teacher from the library.
After several nights of lighting the lamp, he was finally a bit enlightened.
Hence, he set his teaching plan.
The first was to teach Ling Er to read. After that, he must teach him exercises and lead him to cultivation. Teachers need to educate by precepts and deeds and not be partial or secretive.
A teacher was like a father, and a disciple was like a son.
He didn’t quite understand the last sentence because he had never felt the so-called father-son family affection in the first half of his life. However, he thought all their expectations and care should be placed on each other as father and son.
Ling Er was brilliant.
There was no need to teach the minor things, and he could learn many things immediately.
After the injury healed, he was always busy when he wasn’t paying attention. He would arrange everything in the bamboo building properly, then plant a sea of flowers outside the bamboo building.
Perhaps Ling Er’s figure rapidly grew because his environment had improved.
He was already almost at his height in less than half a year.
In fact, when he first met the other party, Ling Er’s thin and fragile figure caused him to mistake the other party for a girl. He based the name ‘Ling Er’ on this impression. Later, he found out that the other party was actually a youth, but he was already accustomed to calling him that, so he didn’t modify it.
Ling Er’s cooking was also delicious.
The appearance was exquisite, especially his pastries. He didn’t know where Ling Er had learned it. Whenever he was fatigued from reading in his study, the other party would serve him plum soup in summer and a cup of sweet ginger tea in winter. His temperament was gentle, and he did everything appropriately.
Sometimes he couldn’t help but wonder:
If Ling Er wasn’t a girl…
But then he forced himself to stop thinking.
There was no romance and love between master and disciple. It was a sect rule.
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