The Sword Named No Way Out Chapter 20

Chapter 20

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Gong Wei stepped back half a pace, his smile disappearing instantly, and he spoke respectfully, “Disciple pays respects to Master.”

Due to the backlight, Xu Shuangce’s expression couldn’t be seen clearly. After a while, Gong Wei saw him lift his foot, step over the threshold, and enter the room.

Although Gong Wei’s residence was in a side hall, it was only separated by a wall from the main hall’s inner room. The layout was elegant and refined, entirely reflecting Xu Shuangce’s personal style—black jade pillars, whalebone beams, and azure silk curtains. Outside the window, bamboo forests rustled in the wind, emitting a whispering sound.

Gong Wei saw Xu Shuangce’s white boots, untainted by any dust, stepping on the bright wooden floor. Xu Shuangce leisurely circled around before finally sitting down at the table. It was as if he hadn’t seen what had just happened.

“Have you finished memorizing the book I gave you?” 

Gong Wei lowered his head and replied, “Disciple is dull.”

As if not hearing, Xu Shuangce said, “Recite what you’ve memorized.”

For immortal scrolls like the “Soul Fixation Technique,” ordinary people couldn’t handle it. Each rune required the infusion of spiritual power to even be comprehensible. Those lacking spiritual power couldn’t even recite a single line verbatim, let alone memorize it.

Gong Wei calmly recited the first two sentences, paused to think, then recited the third sentence. However, as he continued, he stumbled more and more until he came to a complete stop after four or five sentences, ashamedly saying, “Sect Master, forgive me. Disciple’s cultivation is shallow, and I can only remember this much.”

“Is that all?”

“Yes, that’s all.”

Xu Shuangce tapped his four fingers on the table in turn, as if pondering something. Suddenly, he said, “Come here.”

Gong Wei obediently stepped forward and before he could raise his head, his chin suddenly felt cold. Xu Shuangce’s strong fingers forcefully lifted his chin, forcing him to meet the gaze of those dark and profound eyes.

“I instructed you to learn the first volume of the Soul Fixation Technique, yet you haven’t even memorized the first paragraph. How should I punish you?” 

Gong Wei remained composed. “Disciple is dull, but please, Master, punish me as you see fit.”

“Are you truly dull? Master is not so sure.” 

“Responding to Master, for many years, disciple has failed to form the Golden Core, and everyone in the sect knows. Disciple is truly ashamed!” 


The distance between them was less than a foot, and even the slightest breath was clearly discernible. 

Xu Shuangce suddenly said, “Follow me.” 

Gong Wei’s wrist tightened, stumbling as he was pulled out of the door, heading straight towards the main hall. 

With Xu Shuangce’s tall stature and long strides, Gong Wei could barely keep up, walking and running along the winding blue stone corridor for a full stick of incense time. Suddenly, the view opened up, mountain wind rushing towards them, and they arrived at the front gate of the Xuanji Grand Hall! 

Rows of wide steps made of Han white jade descended one after another. Xu Shuangce stopped his steps, standing at the top of the steps, his majestic and broad golden robe fluttering in the wind. 

“With such dull talent and lack of effort, all the expectations from this teacher have been in vain. What should be the punishment?” 

“Xiang Xiaoyuan” stammered for a while, his eyes reddening. He thought to himself, when did this cheap master ever have full expectations of me? “Master, I was wrong, please forgive me. I won’t dare to do it again next time…” 

Xu Shuangce coldly said, “As a master, I must be fair in rewarding and punishing, and I will not easily forgive.” 

――Not easily forgive? 

Gong Wei caught a glimpse of the endless jade steps behind Xu Shuangce, majestic and layered, leading through the peach blossom forest. At the end was the road leading straight down the mountain. Suddenly, a shocking conjecture emerged in his mind. 

“…Master… Are you going to expel me from the sect?” 

Gong Wei shook his head in disbelief. Then, his knees went weak, and he fell to the ground with a thud, tears welled up in his eyes in an instant. “Please, Master, don’t do it! Even though my reputation is bad, and I’m useless, lazy, and cowardly, everyone thinks poorly of me… But I truly admire your dignity, Master! Please, don’t expel me from the sect and send me down the mountain!”

Xu Shuangce lowered his eyes under Gong Wei’s hopeful gaze, his expression unmoved. “Capital crimes may be pardoned, but living crimes are hard to escape.”

Then, he paused for a moment before saying, “I’ll punish you to cleaning these nine levels of stairs. The broom is over there.”


After a long silence, Gong Weiyi trembled and said, “Huh?”


An hour later, Gong Wei, holding a long broom, looked expressionlessly at the steps:

Swish… Swish…

Outside the main gate of the Xuanji Hall were nine sections of jade steps, each with nine layers, sparkling white like snow without a hint of impurity, reflecting the nearby sky and the towering mountains. In the distance, the peach blossoms were as vast as the sea, and with every gust of wind, they fluttered and fell on the eaves, corridors, and underfoot.

Xu Shuangce, like an immortal from beyond the heavens, even his sleeping chambers were covered in petals, unlike anything in the mortal world.

So Gong Wei swept for half an hour, but couldn’t clean the constantly falling peach blossoms.

“Here,” Xu Shuangce gestured to where he stood.

Surprisingly, Sect Master Xu moved a table to the entrance of the main hall and sat at the top of the stairs reading a book. In the intervals between turning pages and sipping tea, he personally supervised the work. He seemed accustomed to being the center of attention and couldn’t tolerate the slightest neglect. As long as Gong Wei descended three yards away, he would hear a precious word from above: “Here—”

Then, Gong Wei, filled with grievances, hurriedly approached, holding the broom, and began to clean the esteemed feet of Sect Master Xu.

Xu Shuangce exuded a scent of sandalwood covered in the frost of early winter. When Gong Wei was young and ignorant, he often approached to sniff, and once, when Xu Shuangce visited the Dai Mountain Immortal Alliance, he was hung by his neck for half an hour. Sect Master Xu’s endurance was astounding; during that time, he calmly drank tea and did whatever he had to do, until Gong Wei was finally rescued by Ying Kai.

This person indeed had extraordinary patience. That year, he taught Gong Wei to write his own name repeatedly, though his demands were strict, he never showed impatience. Later, Gong Wei always felt that if Xu Shuangce were willing to take disciples, he would be a patient Master. Unfortunately, even until the year of his death, he never took any disciples into his room.

“‘Dao companion’,” Xu Shuangce turned a page of the book and suddenly spoke. Gong Wei snapped out of his thoughts, and his heart skipped a beat.

“Do you know what ‘Dao companion’ means?” Xu Shuangce lightly asked.

Gong Wei hesitated for a moment, then cautiously replied, “Sharing the same aspirations, benefiting from each other’s enlightenment, and witnessing the great Dao together, hence called Dao companions.”

“Do you know what kind of people can become Dao companions?” 

Gong Wei thought for a moment, “Complementary spiritual roots and, compatibility in astrology?”

Xu Shuangce remained silent.

“Balanced spiritual energies, mutual cultivation yielding twice the results?”

Xu Shuangce remained noncommittal.

For some reason, Gong Wei felt that his gaze at this moment was almost ominous. However, upon closer observation, his perpetually frozen face showed no change whatsoever.

“…Noble families, matching backgrounds? Approval from Master and elders required? Before becoming Dao companions, one must adhere to propriety and virtue, inform the Immortal Alliance, and then announce it to the world?”

Gong Wei was about to rack his brains further, but after a long silence, Xu Shuangce closed his eyes and sighed.

“I forgot,” he murmured softly, “You simply don’t understand.”

Furrowing his brow, Gong Wei tried to recall the Daoist scriptures he had read in his past life, but he couldn’t understand what exactly he didn’t comprehend—just as Xu Shuangce looked up at him, changing the subject:

“Do you know why I didn’t expel you from the sect and send you back down the mountain?”

Finally, they stopped discussing the dangerous topic of Yuchi Xiao. Gong Wei immediately made a respectful bow. “I don’t know, please enlighten me, Master.”

Xu Shuangce said, “Although you’re a half-demon and unable to cultivate Dao, destined to not progress further on the immortal path, as a teacher, one should teach without discrimination, possess great virtue, and tirelessly educate.”

“Wise Master.”

“You, as a child, were playful and negligent, ignorant of diligence. I hope this small punishment serves as a lesson. I hope you can use this as motivation, starting from tomorrow, to balance work and rest, and devote yourself to learning. Do you understand?”

Gong Wei was moved. “This disciple understands!”

Xu Shuangce nodded “Mmm,” and waved his hand and read the book.

Gong Wei immediately stepped back three paces with the broom, bowed his head, and started sweeping the steps, instantly sweeping ten yards away.

Just then, in the distance at the end of the stairs, the figure of Wen Xiuyang suddenly appeared. He ascended the snowy-white jade steps with great strides, bowing respectfully to Xu Shuangce at the top. “I pay my respects to the Sect Master! Sect Master, Junior Brother Sheng, he—”

Wen Xiuyang’s voice, along with his footsteps, abruptly stopped as he stared in shock at Gong Wei, who was burying his head in sweeping with a broom above the steps, as if he were dreaming. “What… what are you doing?”

Gong Wei respectfully bowed deeply. “Hello, Senior Brother. I saw that the steps to Master’s sleeping chambers were dirty, so I came to sweep them for Master.”

Wen Xiuyang: “…” Xu Shuangce asked from a distance, “What’s the matter?”

Wen Xiuyang hurried forward, lifted his robe, and knelt down. “Reporting to the Sect Master, the seven-day punishment period for Junior Brother Sheng has passed. Can he be released from the Cold Mountain Prison?”

Gong Wei heard Cold Mountain Prison and took a deep breath.

In most prestigious immortal sects, there were various extremely harsh punishment places, which, on one hand, punished disciples who violated the rules of the sect, and on the other hand, greatly improved their cultivation during the punishment process, albeit in extreme pain. The “Eight Prisons” established by the Cangyang Sect were precisely for this purpose.

In his past life, Gong Wei had once been forced to visit the Cold Mountain Prison, one of the “Eight Prisons,” during the period when their relationship due to “Madam Xu” deteriorated severely after her unfortunate death. Xu Shuangce ordered him not to set foot on Cangyang Mountain, but the bold Gong Wei still liked to come and make trouble in the middle of the night. One night, when he came to play with Xu Shuangce, he happened to see Xu Shuangce drawing a portrait of his deceased wife while drinking wine. Gong Wei objectively commented that the portrait didn’t look like her and kindly suggested if he wanted help drawing a frontal portrait. As a result, in a fit of rage, Xu Shuangce drew his sword and stabbed Gong Wei’s eye. Gong Wei, covering his right eye, still unwilling to give up, tried to tease Xu Shuangce by trying to kiss him, but the enraged Xu Shuangce lifted him by the back of his neck and flew on his sword to Cold Mountain Prison. If he hadn’t escaped quickly, he would have almost been thrown in.

With such cultivation, Grand Elder Gong sneezed for half a month after slipping back to the Immortal Alliance, showing how much suffering he endured. If someone really spent seven days in the Cold Mountain Prison, it would undoubtedly be a miserable experience for a long time.

Xu Shuangce turned another page of the book and said, “Let’s see.”

Wen Xiuyang immediately bowed deeply, then raised his hand and commanded, “Arise!”

A visible formation suddenly unfolded in mid-air, revealing a gloomy and greenish Cold Mountain Ice Pool on the other side, with gusts of eerie wind and wailing ghosts. A young disciple, with white frost covering his face and blue veins visible all over his body, was wearing only thin clothing. Upon seeing Xu Shuangce, he immediately trembled and tried to stand up, but his legs were already frozen. Finally, with a thud, he staggered and knelt down, trembling, “I pay my re-re-respects… to the Sect Master!”

Gong Wei looked him up and down, thinking that this poor guy had a tough time. The cold had penetrated his lungs, and although his cultivation would undoubtedly advance greatly under the extremely painful external conditions, he would inevitably suffer from injuries for a considerable period of time in the future, and might even have several days of living worse than death. He recognized this person as one of the eight disciples guarding the hall, probably ranked seventh or eighth. He couldn’t help but wonder how serious his wrongdoing must have been to receive such a heavy punishment.

Xu Shuangce asked, “Do you know what you did wrong?”

The young disciple’s tongue was frozen, and he couldn’t even speak properly. “I-I’m… I’m dull. I couldn’t memorize the entire Sword Washing Collection for three days in a row, disappointing the Sect Master’s high expectations. I… I should be punished!!”

Gong Wei: “……………..”

Xu Shuangce said, “Since you know you’re dull, you should work harder. Go back and study well. After three days, you will be tested again. If you fail again, the punishment will be doubled.”

The young disciple immediately knocked his head, but when he tried to get up, he couldn’t. Several attendants hurried forward to help him up and then disappeared along with the visible formation.

Xu Shuangce’s gaze shifted, and he asked calmly, “Beloved disciple, what’s wrong with you?”


Gong Wei stood there with a pale face, at a loss for words.

After a while, he finally took a deep breath, bowed sincerely, and said emotionally, “—– Master! Your disciple suddenly feels a thirst for knowledge and is eager to go back to memorize the Soul Fixation Technique. Your disciple believes that this time, he can definitely live up to Master’s expectations!”

Xu Shuangce furrowed his brow. “Why are you pushing yourself like this, my disciple? Didn’t I just say to balance work and rest?”

Gong Wei immediately replied, “No, no, Master’s kindness towards your disciple is as heavy as a mountain. Your disciple really dare not disappoint you!”

Wen Xiuyang, standing by in astonishment, “…”

Xu Shuangce then nodded and waved his hand approvingly. “My disciple’s diligence brings great comfort to me. Go ahead.”

Gong Wei didn’t need to hear another word. He grabbed the broom and fled in haste.


Gong Wei was always quick to learn anything since childhood. When he was picked up by Ying Kai on Mount Dai, he couldn’t even speak, but later, when he studied the secret scrolls of the Immortal Sect, he understood them easily, as if he had a natural affinity for Taoist magic. In the past, there was a sect called the “Overcome Ghost Gate” founded by an evil cultivator. They secretly practiced a technique specifically for summoning ghosts and refining fierce ghosts, called the Secret Communication of Yin and Yang Chaos Great Mantra. When Ying Kai learned about it, he personally suppressed and confiscated the sect. In desperation, the evil cultivator set fire to the entire carriage of forbidden scrolls, attempting to destroy the evidence. Unexpectedly, Gong Wei, who was bored at the time, had read all the bamboo slips before the fire started and remembered them all. After returning to the Immortal Alliance, he wrote down all the scriptures with a pen, which served as evidence to convict the sect leader.

However, his quick learning ability did not mean that Xiang Xiaoyuan learned things quickly.

Gong Wei worked hard into the night, studying and reciting diligently, with the echoes lingering. The Xuanji Hall was quiet and deserted in the late night. Xu Shuangce sat under the lamp, writing silently, while the sound of recitation from the side hall could be heard in the distance, sometimes loud, sometimes soft, sometimes melancholic, and sometimes impassioned, as if two hundred frogs were croaking in a lotus pond. Wen Xiuyang, standing behind a pillar, endured for a while but couldn’t bear it anymore. “Sect Master, should I…”

“No need.”

Xu Shuangce, with his young and sharp silhouette, was indistinct under the candlelight, and his expression couldn’t be discerned, but only the faint rustling sound of the brush on paper could be heard.

Wen Xiuyang recited the calming mantra in his mind three times, but the annoying voices kept drilling into his ears. Unable to bear it any longer, he spoke again, “Sect Master, shall I…”

Xu Shuangce lifted his eyelids, his gaze bone-chillingly cold. “What is it?”

An inexplicable chill suddenly surged from the bottom of Wen Xiuyang’s heart, blocking the words about to come out of his mouth.

“N-Nothing.” Wen Xiuyang’s throat tightened, struggling for a moment before improvising, “I just… suddenly remembered that Sect Master seems to no longer carry his sword with him.”

There was no response from above.

“It seems that since returning from Linjiang, I haven’t seen Sect Master carry it anymore. I wonder if Sect Master has placed the Divine Sword in the Heaven Extreme Tower. I just thought…”

“Is that so,” Xu Shuangce interrupted Wen Xiuyang’s increasingly awkward explanation.

He fell silent for a moment before saying, “If you can’t stand it, you can leave first.”

Wen Xiuyang didn’t dare to argue again. He bowed silently and retreated out of the spacious main hall.

In the distant side hall, the light was still on, and the sound of Xiang Xiaoyuan’s enthusiastic and vigorous reading continued to echo. This volume of sound could rival that of an entire school. Anyone who heard it would have to endure toothaches and praise the child’s hard work. Wen Xiuyang walked along the corridor for a while, but somehow his mind was filled with all sorts of trivial matters from the past few days. The more he thought about it, the more inexplicable he felt, as if he were watching the moon in the water and flowers in the mist, vague and unclear, unable to make sense of anything.

He couldn’t help but stop in his tracks and look towards the side hall. His gaze suddenly froze.

Under the moonlight, the eaves of the heavy glazed roof reflected a greenish halo, and the stone pillars along the Hanbai jade corridor stretched from near to far. At the end of the corridor, outside the side hall, the lattice window cast a faint light, illuminating a deep shadow on the steps.

It was Sect Master Xu.

Xu Shuangce stood silently under the half-open door of the hall. In the moonlight, his back, shoulder line, and even his chin bone seemed to be extremely tense, so tense that it gave rise to a strange feeling. But the upper half of his profile was completely hidden in the darkness.

After a long while, his robe finally moved, and he stepped onto the steps, reaching out as if to push open the door of the hall.

-At this moment, his gaze hidden in the shadows finally fell into Wen Xiuyang’s line of sight.


At the moment of witnessing this moment, Wen Xiuyang involuntarily took a step back, and the jade pendant at his waist hit the stone pillar. Xu Shuangce’s movement suddenly stopped!


The world seemed to freeze. Wen Xiuyang’s pupils contracted, his mind blank. Every nerve was screaming at him to move away immediately, but the fact was that he couldn’t even turn his gaze away. He could only watch Xu Shuangce turn his head, his black eyes staring at him inexplicably.

Then, he walked down the steps, his pace steady, and turned around and left without a word.

It wasn’t until his figure completely disappeared at the end of the corridor that Wen Xiuyang suddenly came back to his senses, staggering back a half step and stabilizing himself.

In the courtyard late at night, he was alone. The sound of reading continued in the distance. The night breeze blew, and Wen Xiuyang suddenly shivered, only to realize that he was sweating heavily under his clothes, and the shattered jade pendant lay in several pieces at his feet.

He bent down to pick up the broken jade, his fingers trembling slightly with suspicion. In his mind, the gaze that Xu Shuangce cast when he reached out to the half-open door kept appearing – 

If it weren’t for knowing that this was Cangyang Mountain, he would even think that the dignified Sect Master of Cangyang had been possessed by some evil creature.

That gaze seemed like that of a desperate prisoner in a cage, on the brink of madness, or a ferocious beast about to go berserk.

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