unsheathed – Chapter 54: Facing the Enemy

Chapter 54: Facing the Enemy

Chapter 54: Facing the Enemy

Chen Ping'an led Ning Yao to a five-colored statue. This statue was around a head taller than a young man, and it had initially had three pairs of arms. Now, however, only the arm with its hand clenched into a fist and held high above its head remained, as well as the arm that was lowest and making a "handshake" gesture. The reason it could make this "handshake" gesture was because two hands of this statue had been interlocked before, so even though the other arm had already broken off, its hand was still able to remain.

This five-colored statue was that of an armored god with a large beard. His armor was impressive, with numerous scales interlocked in a flowing pattern. The perimeters of these scales were also decorated with two red threads as well as plump red beads. In terms of looks alone, the gulf between this suit of armor and Liu Xianyang's ugly suit of wart armor was like the gulf between Zhi Gui and Granny Ma.

The statue stood on top of a pitch-black stone platform, and compared to the headless statue that they had stayed under last night, this colorful statue appeared much more lively and spirited, even though it was missing several arms and had already become mottled in color. Most importantly, two of the statue's hands were interlocked in an extremely strange position near its waist.

Ning Yao immediately noticed something, and she understood why Chen Ping'an had hurriedly brought her over here. She nodded and said, "It does indeed look a bit like the standing meditation stance from the Mountain Shaking Guide. However, it's a little bit different from the Sword Furnace stance from the guide."

She pondered for a moment before asking, "Can we find its other arms nearby?"

Chen Ping'an squatted down and shook his head in pity. "I've tried to look for them before. However, I wasn't able to find anything. They're most likely been broken by the children trodding all over them when playing hide-and-seek here. After so many years, I feel like these statues of gods have already experienced all kinds of hardships and beatings.

"Just look at this one. There's a large chunk missing from his fist up there, and there are also many cracks on the side. It's clear that his fist has taken a beating from slingshots or stones thrown at him. The children in the small town are all like this. The more that their guardians prohibit them from coming here to play, the more that they enjoy sneaking here to catch crickets and dig up wild vegetables.

"This is especially the case when winter arrives and snow falls. Dozens of them will come here to have snow fights, and that's truly a scene that's as lively as can be. After playing to their heart's content, will they still have the effort to worry about anything else? The children also like to compete with each other, and they try to see who can climb to the top of these statues. There are even some children who like to take a leak after climbing on top of these statues' heads, and they'll compete to see who can pee the furthest.

"So, just think about it. After so many years, how can there still be a complete and undamaged statue? In fact, there used to be a few wooden statues here when I was still little. However, I heard that there was someone who was too lazy to enter the mountains to collect firewood, so they eventually turned their attention to these statues. When winter arrived, he secretly snuck over and dragged the statues back to his house. He then chopped them up and used them as firewood."

Chen Ping'an continued to rattle on, and there was a sense of dejection and sadness in his voice as he said, "Old Man Yao gave me the cold shoulder and said that I didn't have the aptitude for firing pottery at the time, so he shooed me off to the mountains to collect firewood. If I had known that there was someone like that in the small town, I would have definitely gone over to persuade him against his plans. If that didn't work, I could have even offered to collect firewood for him. Even though those statues of gods never give their blessings, they are still statues of gods and Bodhisattvas after all! Yet, he chopped them up to use as firewood? How could someone do something so immoral...?"

Ning Yao and Chen Ping'an were focused on two starkly different matters at this moment.

With one hand pinching her chin and one hand resting under her elbow, there was a glimmer in Ning Yao's eyes as she said, "If my guess isn't wrong, the Sword Furnace from your Mountain Shaking Guide is derived from this statue's stance. However, it's not derived from the pair of hands that you can see right now. Instead, it was derived from the middle two arms of this statue of a Daoist Enforcer. It was those two arms that formed the stance of the Sword Furnace. However, I'm not sure why the author of the fist guide only chose one pair of arms to use as inspiration, ignoring the two hands that we can still see now. In any case, I can say with certainty that the Sword Furnace, or the Enforcer Sword Finger Hand Seal, is divided into two levels big and small."

Chen Ping'an didn't understand a single word that she was saying. However, he didn't forget to retort her and say, "This fist guide is Gu Can's. I'm only looking after it for him right now."

Ning Yao didn't argue with Chen Ping'an. Instead, she pointed at the Daoist Enforcer statue and said, "Do you see? In the fist guide, it's the pinky on the right hand that's sticking out. Here, however, nine of his fingers are intertwined and locked together, with only the index finger of the left hand sticking out by itself. This is in order to form and nurture a sword finger."

Ning Yao continued to speak by herself, saying, "I've traveled your world for many years, and I've been able to see the Four Heavenly Kings[1] of many different temples and abbeys. This statue..."

Chen Ping'an waited for her to continue, yet he still didn't hear anything after waiting for a long time. In the end, he could only open his mouth and say, "Is there something strange about it?"

Ning Yao nodded and said with a serious expression, "Mhm, it's the shortest."ewW ovels updtes on nov/l/b(i)(.)com

Chen Ping'an, who was squatting on the ground, didn't say anything. He simply raised a thumb at her.

Ning Yao turned around and asked, "Have you seen any statues of Dao Enforcers that are even taller than Cloud Drape Mountain over here?"

"Of course not," Chen Ping'an replied. However, he faltered for a moment before asking in puzzlement, "Cloud Drape Mountain over here?"

Ning Yao came to a sudden realization, and she explained, "It's the tallest mountain in this place. It's said that a very long time ago, an enlightened person buried a Heavenly Master Seal under Cloud Drape Mountain, using it to suppress the dragon qi in this small world."

Chen Ping'an's eyes lit up, and he said, " Do you know its approximate location? Can we dig it up?"

Ning Yao smiled with squinted eyes and said, "What, you want to dig it up and sell it?"

Chen Ping'an blushed slightly after being exposed, and he replied honestly, "Not necessarily sell it. When it comes to valuable items, even keeping them and passing them down as family heirlooms will be fairly nice."

Ning Yao made a tapping motion at the young boy who had become engrossed in material wealth, and she scoffed, "If you found a sect in the future, your avaricious and miserly nature will definitely ensure that everyone in your sect has enough to eat and drink and wear for the rest of their lives. They can just lie down and enjoy life."

Chen Ping'an wasn't thinking that far ahead. As for founding a sect or whatnot, he more so didn't understand what Ning Yao was saying.

He stood up and asked, "Regardless of whether it's big or small, is the remaining stance of this statue also a type of Sword Furnace?"

Ning Yao nodded and replied, "The Big Sword Furnace and the Small Sword Furnace are categorized by the left or right hand. However, what's being nurtured most certainly isn't the index finger of the left hand or the pinky finger of the right hand. Instead, we need to draw a trace up, all the way until..."

Ning Yao closed her eyes and focused her attention at this moment. In fact, she could sense these locations even if she didn't form a hand seal and enter the standing meditation stance. She opened her eyes and curled her fingers, pointing to two locations on the back of her head, the Jade Pillow acupoint and the Celestial Pillar acupoint. These acupoints were indeed suitable locations for nurturing one's bonded flying sword. Ning Yao smiled and said, "The Sword Furnace of the left hand corresponds to here, and the Sword Furnace of the right hand points to here."

Chen Ping'an was baffled, and he said, "Ning Yao, I've always wanted to ask you something. You say that the Sword Furnace relates to the standing meditation of the fist technique, but how does twisting my fingers around relate to practicing a fist technique? Can it increase my strength?"

Ning Yao was stupefied.

It was truly far too difficult for her to explain martial arts in fine detail. After all, she had easily overcome all of the obstacles that she had faced. Did these boring principles really need to be explained? Were they not naturally learned and easily understandable?

Thus, Ning Yao wore a stern expression and said, "If you haven't reached a suitable tier yet, telling you about this will be a waste of my breath! Just put your head down and work harder! What, it's too tiring and challenging for you?"

Chen Ping'an was slightly skeptical, and he carefully asked, "Ning Yao, is it truly like this?"

Ning Yao crossed her arms before her chest, her expression proper and righteous as she said, "What else could it be like?"

Chen Ping'an didn't continue to pester her about this topic. He looked up at the colorful statue that Ning Yao referred to as the Daoist Enforcer, and he said, "So, this is an immortal from the same teaching as Daoist Lu..."

Ning Yao was slightly exasperated, and she said, "What do you mean from the same teaching as Daoist Lu? First of all, even though it's called the Daoist teaching, this 'teaching' definitely doesn't mean the same thing as 'family'[2]. The breadth of the Daoist teaching far exceeds your imagination. In fact, even I'm not sure about how many different branches and schools the Daoist teaching has. I've only heard my father mention that there are four different Ancestral Temples, with one above, one below, one in the south, and one in the north... Forget about it. Telling you about this is like trying to play the zither to a cow.

"Second of all, gods and immortals are not the same thing. Even though everyone likes to mention them together in fact, all the mortals like to do this as well they are ultimately not the same thing. Gods and immortals walk completely different paths. Let me give you an example. Have you heard of the saying 'humans fight for qi, while gods fight for incense' before?"

Chen Ping'an nodded and said, "Apricot Blossom Alley's Granny Ma and Gu Can's mother always threw this phrase around when they argued with each other."

Feeling like she was a commander teaching her subordinate, Ning Yao elaborated, "Why do gods fight for incense? This is because they do indeed need incense to survive. Without incense, gods will gradually decline in power and ultimately lose their profound abilities. This is analogous to how people need to eat. If someone doesn't eat for several days, will they still have any energy left? Why do mortal empires order local officials to prohibit and shut down illegal temples? It's because they're afraid of people offering incense to the wrong deities, allowing those who don't deserve godhood to reach godhood.

"Taking a step back, even if these illegitimate gods are good-natured ones who are willing to protect local residents and never break any rules, mortal emperors don't see things the same way as us. They view themselves as "True Dragons", and they view these illegitimate temples and gods as forces that are bringing chaos to a corner of their territory. In other words, these are forces that are invading their territory and reducing their power and fortune. As a result, an emperor's time on the throne will also be reduced. With this in mind, how can mortal emperors allow them to exist?

"As for immortals, this is very simple. The large majority of outsiders that you see are immortals. In fact, even the old ape from Sun Scorch Mountain can be regarded as half an immortal. They've all arrived on this path of Great Dao using their own abilities, and they're all trying to climb this mountain to reach a state of immortality that rests at the summit. Cultivators are also referred to as qi refiners, and cultivation is also referred to as a process of cultivating immortality or cultivating truth."

"Then is this Daoist Enforcer a god or an immortal? According to your explanation, he should be regarded as an immortal from the Daoist teaching, right?" Chen Ping'an asked.

Ning Yao wore a solemn expression as she lightly shook her head. She didn't delve any deeper into these secrets.

She suddenly furrowed her brows.

A small stone mysteriously shot over, forcefully smashing into the raised fist of the Daoist Enforcer and causing several clay shards to rain down.

Ning Yao waved her hands and pushed the clay pieces away.

Chen Ping'an stood up and followed Ning Yao's gaze. Turning around, he saw an unexpected figure.

This was a short and tanned young boy. He was squatting on a distant statue, and he was tossing a stone in one of his hands.

Chen Ping'an stood up beside Ning Yao, and he said in a soft voice, "He's called Ma Kuxuan, and he's Granny Ma's grandson. He's a very strange person, and he's never liked to talk from a very young age. The last time I saw him by the creek, he even came up to me and actively spoke to me. It was clear that he already knew the value of the snake gall pebbles."

Ma Kuxuan stood up and continued to toss the stone in his hand. He flashed a brilliant smile at Ning Yao and Chen Ping'an, and he said, "If I go to the Li Clan's residence in Fortune Street and tell that old ape from Sun Scorch Mountain that I've found you two, I reckon that I'll be able to earn a pouch of copper coins no matter what. However, I can pretend that I didn't see anything if you two are willing to offer me two bags of copper coins. Let me say this first, though. This is merely a transaction, so don't have any thoughts about trying to kill me. There are so many gods and bodhisattvas observing us, so be careful of getting bad karma."

Ning Yao was quite angry, and she was just about to speak. However, Chen Ping'an pulled her back and stepped forward, saying to Ma Kuxuan in a solemn voice, "Will you really uphold your end of the deal if I give you two pouches of copper coins?"

Ma Kuxuan faltered slightly, and it was as if he hadn't imagined that Chen Ping'an and Ning Yao would be so open to negotiation. To his surprise, they were genuinely trying to make a deal with him.

However, he couldn't be bothered acting anymore, and he retrieved an exquisite money pouch from his pocket before casually tossing it to the ground. He smiled and said, "I've already received payment from the Li Clan. However, I didn't do this for the sake of money. Chen Ping'an from Clay Vase Alley, Song Jixin's neighbor, correct? If you want to blame someone, then blame the girl next to you for being too detestable. She ruined a lot of people's plans and grand schemes yesterday."

Ma Kuxuan pursed his lips and pointed at himself, saying, "For example, mine."

Chen Ping'an scanned the surroundings.

Ma Kuxuan looked at Ning Yao and said with a smile, "Don't worry, that old ape has something to deal with right now. Taking this opportunity, I wanted to ask you for something. You already know what it is, am I right?"

Ning Yao chuckled coldly and said, "Be careful that you won't live long enough to use it."

Ma Kuxuan smiled and said, "You're not my wife or anything, so there's no need for you to worry about this."

Chen Ping'an truly couldn't imagine why other people viewed this eerie and sinister person as a mentally challenged retard.

Ning Yao wore a dark expression, and she bumped Chen Ping'an's shoulder before saying in a soft voice, "After arriving near here, my flying sword isn't able to enter for some reason."

Ma Kuxuan shifted his gaze slightly, cracking a grin at Chen Ping'an and saying, "Your battle on the rooftops yesterday was enthralling. I managed to witness it by coincidence. Oh, that's right, you can remove the pouches of sand on your legs now. Otherwise, you won't be able to catch up to me."

Sure enough, Chen Ping'an squatted down and slowly rolled up his pants legs. However, his eyes remained locked on Ma Kuxuan the entire time.

Only at this moment did Ning Yao surprisingly discover a pouch of sand wrapped around each of Chen Ping'an's calves.

Chen Ping'an explained to her, "When I was little, Grandpa Yang from the Yang Family's medicine shop told me to never remove these pouches of sand. I initially planned to remove them to deal with the old ape's fourth breath of qi. However, I feel like now is a fairly suitable time to remove them as well. It's also because I have a nagging feeling that Ma Kuxuan is just as dangerous as that old ape."

Ma Kuxuan deftly jumped down from the statue, and he took a glance at the young girl in green before muttering to himself, "I thought I would only come across my first Dao enemy after leaving the small town. Who knew I would meet one so quickly? Haha, I truly can't stop my good fortune!"

Ning Yao suddenly asked, "Chen Ping'an, was he also whipped in the face by cow tails when he was little?"

Chen Ping'an stood up and lightly stomped his feet several times. After carefully thinking over Ning Yao's question, he replied, "Granny Ma's very rich, so in my memory, the cows that they owned were all especially large. It was truly terrifying when they started to swing their tails around."

When Chen Ping'an stood up, Ma Kuxuan squatted down again, scooping up a handful of stones in his left hand.

In the end, the young boy from Clay Vase Alley and the young boy from Apricot Blossom Alley faced each other from afar.

1. This refers to the four guardian statues seen in many Buddhist temples.

2. In this context, "teaching" and "family" share the same Chinese character.

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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