Published at 19th of February 2019 09:51:26 AM

Chapter 60

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Chapter 60 – Huan Hua Palace Master

Ah, that’s right! After all, at the end of the day, a master is not obligated to help his disciple quench his fire.1 Even if he was the one who accidentally rubbed against it and stoked the fire, it’s all the same!!!

Shen Qingqiu pushed Luo Binghe up abruptly, placed a palm on his chest, and sent in a few waves of spiritual energy. Although it didn’t amount to much, it was all he could afford to give. Everything else can be ignored! Ignored!

Exiting the stone sarcophagus and following Dream Demon’s directions, he dragged and pulled Luo Binghe all the way to “The East End.” After a while, the walls of the tomb gradually grew damp, the soles of his feet became slippery, and the moss was thicker. It was not easy to keep steady. Shen Qingqiu slowed down to avoid slipping.

As they continued, weeds and wildflowers bloomed among the moss as the tomb gradually widened. Trees of varied heights rose on both sides. Not only was the ground slippery, but the gnarled and twisted old tree roots also threatened to trip them from time to time. Insects flew by, and the chirping calls of birds could be heard. A blue-and-black zenith suddenly rose up high above them. Inlaid with flashing white crystals, it resembled a curtain of a starlit night.

Despite the illusion of being in a jungle, they have not left the Holy Mausoleum but only arrived at one of the special crypts within it.

Each crypt in the Holy Mausoleum was designed by the nobles of the past generations for their own use. Its designs were strange and varied. Similar to an apartment, the tenants move in bringing only what they have, and decorate the rest of the house in accordance to their preferences. Experts in the field of mechanisms unduly favor the Qimen Dunjia ancient divination tradition.2 Demon beast tamers prefer to use guardian beasts. Herbalists cultivate poisonous flowers and grasses.

The owner of this tomb was obviously the last type. The trees and flowers here seemed ordinary, but Shen Qingqiu was determined not to touch them. He removed his robe and covered both their heads. Pressing his hand against Luo Binghe’s waist, he took a cautious step forward.

The grass and leaves rustled.

Suddenly, a piercing sound accompanied by a flash of cold white light shattered the stillness of the air.

Shen Qingqiu’s hand snapped down sharply, the Xiu Ya sword at his waist flew out and slammed in a cross to block the sudden attack. The force of strength from both sides did not relent.

This obstacle had not been resolved before a second flash of white light struck. This time, it directly stabbed at Luo Binghe’s throat. The Xiu Ya sword was blocking the first sword and couldn’t be recalled; neither could he throw Luo Binghe aside. If he fell amongst those treacherous flowers and plants, he would be done for!

He raised his arm and seized the edge of the sword with his bare hand.

The blade cut deeply into his palm, but he could still hold it firmly, and it did not advance another half inch. Blood did not drip—it poured out. It spilled over Shen Qingqiu’s clothes and dyed the grass on the ground bright red.

He finally realized how painful it must have been when Luo Binghe had previously grabbed at his blade.

Shen Qingqiu’s eyes reddened. He jerked his head and his pupils shrank.

I never imagined that the “strays”3 Tianlang-Jun spoke of was actually referring to these two people.

Two people emerged from within the shadows of the gnarled old trees.

To be precise, only one person stepped out; the other one was pushed on a wheelchair-like contraption.

The one standing was a beautiful woman with a slender waist and full bosom. The one being wheeled forward was wrapped in a rough felt blanket from the neck down, but the exposed head was not unfamiliar to Shen Qingqiu.

The flying sword still strove to move forward. Shen Qingqiu could not loosen his grip. The force was strong, and the blade was close to slicing his palm in half.

His expression did not change except for the addition of a fake smile: “Lady Qiu, Old Palace Master, I trust you’ve been well.”

Qiu Haitang’s eyes were filled with resentment. The Old Palace Master’s head moved agitatedly, and his voice was hoarse: “Peak Lord Shen, look at me. Do I look well?”

The word “well”—it’s just used as a casual greeting and not meant to be taken literally. Shen Qingqiu gave a dry laugh.

Upon careful observation, he found that the use of the word “well” was indeed greatly ironic at this point. In the past, the Old Palace Master was a prominent figure in the cultivation world. During their first meeting at the Immortal Alliance Conference and during the unrest at Jinlan City, his bearing and appearance were faultless. But now, the previously meticulously kept snow white beard had become dirty and tangled, his face was so lined that soil filled the creases, and the wrinkles piled up were denser than the aged trees behind him.

The Old Palace Master said darkly: “You must find my current appearance strange.”

Shen Qingqiu thought, would you let us go if I say I don’t find it strange at all? What his mouth said: “I heard that the Old Palace Master had retired from general affairs to go back to his native place and live in seclusion4 or was roaming5 around without a care in the world.”

The Old Palace Master sneered: “Retired or roaming the world? Did you really believe that? In the entire Huan Hua Palace, the entire world, how many people actually believe it? If you want the truth, ask your good disciple.”

He didn’t know what was going on, but they seemed to be looking to settle a score with Luo Binghe. Shen Qingqiu did not bat an eyelid. He shifted Luo Binghe to his back and shielded him.

Qiu Haitang seethed with hatred: “Shen Jiu, I have said before that I would recognize you even if you have turned to ashes. I have long known your act of self-destruction at Huayue City was fake. Committing suicide as a form of atonement? Hehe, you’re not that kind of person. In the Demon Realm, I caught sight of you. You really were still alive!”

You recognized only my body, but not my soul. What‘s the use of it… Shen Qingqiu lamented helplessly.

On the day he was captured by Sha Hualing at the Chi Yun cave, Shen Qingqiu rescued the various factions and she caught a glimpse of him. It roused her doubts, and from thereon she became suspicious. Unfortunately, after he returned to Cang Qiong Mountain sect and was subsequently snatched away by Luo Binghe, Qiu Haitang also crossed the border and followed them into the Demon Realm. Luo Binghe had been busy rounding up a large number of Black Moon Rhinoceros Pythons to break the sacred enchantment. He was bound to be overwhelmed and distracted, and so did not notice that someone had secretly snuck in.

To summarise: A woman’s hatred cannot be underestimated. It’s just that, for these two people to be allied, it had never occurred to Shen Qingqiu. Nor does he know when they had started conspiring together.

Thinking of this, a thought occurred to Shen Qingqiu: “Back when Lady Qiu suddenly appeared in Jinlan City, was it thanks to the Old Palace Master?”

Since Zhuzhi-Lang has denied involvement in this, it stands to reason that others had a hand in it. How else could Qiu Haitang, who had no standing to speak of, have obtained the chance to come forward and denounce him?

The Old Palace Master smiled coldly, neither confirming nor denying.

Fluffy white dandelion seeds swayed and drifted in the air before them. Shen Qingqiu said: “I wonder if I have ever offended the Old Palace Master…”

The Old Palace Master: “Since it has come to this, there is no need to hide it from you.”

His voice rasped as if there was something lodged in his throat: “When Luo Binghe first came to my Huan Hua Palace, I nurtured him carefully and gave him all my support. But he refused to acknowledge me as his master and wouldn’t hear of marrying my daughter. It was clear he still had you on his mind. Naturally, I wanted to know what kind of excellent person Peak Lord Shen was. Who would have guessed the type of history that would be revealed to me instead? Regarding your background, I know everything. Who you were apprenticed with, the things you did, how you managed to enter Cang Qiong Mountain sect—it really was extraordinary. Even if there had been no sowers on the scene, you would have been guaranteed a spot in the water dungeon. Although it wasn’t part of the plan, it mattered not to me.”

It would seem that back then, the Huan Hua Palace disciples’ antagonism towards him was not instigated by Luo Binghe, but rather the deliberate influence of the Old Palace Master. Shen Qingqiu couldn’t help shooting a glance at Luo Binghe. This child, if he had been less pig-headed and accepted other people as his master, a lot of grief could have been avoided. But Shen Qingqiu could not begrudge him his brainless willfulness.

He had to sigh: “This youngster was truly cherished by Old Palace Master. But pardon my skepticism, trying to skewer him with two swords is very much at odds with your words.”

The Old Palace Master: “That was then, this is now. Peak Lord Shen, please step aside. Where you want to go, what you wish to do, I no longer care. I just want to settle things with this brat.”

Shen Qingqiu: “If I step aside, the Palace Master will kill him and let me off?”

Qiu Haitang sneered: “He may let you off, but I am still here!”

Originally, her weak fighting prowess meant she can be overlooked, but now this situation was truly getting out of hand.

The Old Palace Master: “This thankless wretch, ruining me to this extent—I won’t rest till he’s dead.”

Shen Qingqiu said: “If he really was as ungrateful as you say, he would not have left you and your daughter alive. To completely destroy something, one must destroy root and branch.6 This, I’m sure, you understand better than I do.”

He never thought there would come a day when he had to speak up in Luo Binghe’sdefense. Hearing this, the Old Palace Master gave a peculiar laugh. Qiu Haitang jerked off the rough felt blanket covering his body, and Shen Qingqiu forgot to breathe.

Beneath the blanket lay a strangely square torso. All four limbs were missing.

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The Old Palace Master was actually sliced into a human stick! A great leader of his generation reduced to such a miserable state, barely considered human and more miserable than a ghost. Bedraggled and filthy, with only the head being able to turn about. The original Shen Qingqiu’s fate has been transferred to the Old Palace Master!

This grudge was too heavy, it definitely can’t be placated with just a few quotes about enlightenment and compassion from Chicken Soup for the Soul!

The Old Palace Master sneered: “Your good disciple’s handiwork. Seen enough? He might as well have destroyed root and branch.”

Shen Qingqiu gravely agreed. Why didn’t you destroy root and branch!

These two little fish, one wants to kill Luo Binghe, one wants to kill Shen Qingqiu. Qiu Haitang isn’t skilled enough to take him down by herself; the Old Palace Master may have been crippled but he was much more powerful than her. The body of a starved camel is still bigger than a horse.7 In spite of everything, he had once been the great leader of a sect. He may no longer have the use of his four limbs, but his spiritual power remains undiminished. Men and women who work side by side will not tire.8 This pair complement each other’s strengths and weaknesses, like a blind man carrying a cripple.

Shen Qingqiu snapped the blade with his bare hands and threw it into the grass, staring at the two people facing him.

Actually, he could take a gamble.

When facing Tianlang-Jun, a character whose data had not existed previously, Luo Binghe’s plot armor was useless. But the Old Palace Master did play a role in the original work, and hence should be subjected to the same laws dictating the protagonist’s golden undying body. This effect should still be in place. He could try standing back, let the Old Palace Master hack at Luo Binghe, and like back at Shuang Hu City, see who ends up dead instead.

The Old Palace Master slowly said: “I will ask once more, will you stand aside, or not?”

Shen Qingqiu lowered his arm, the blood flowing from his palm had slowed to a trickle. He formed his reply.

He looked up and said coldly: “Just like the Old Palace Master has said, he is my good disciple. You tell me, would I stand aside?”

Can’t be helped, things have changed. Now it’s no longer the same as it was back then.

In any case, he couldn’t bring himself to do it, to spectate from the sidelines as others chopped at Luo Binghe while he speculated on who would be the winner.

At this stage, if he could still gamble with Luo Binghe’s life, he would be no different from the original scum villain!

The Old Palace Master’s pupils suddenly narrowed and seemed to flee from the expanding whites of his eyes. He gave an earth-shaking roar.

His four limbs were gone, so he poured his spiritual power into his roar instead. With every bellow, Shen Qingqiu felt a powerful stream of spiritual energy condensed into sharp blades sweep at him, and the attacks were not trifling. The grass swayed and leaves were sent flying. Shen Qingqiu gripped the scabbard with his still bleeding right hand and blocked a few times. The excruciating pain on his right palm made him tremble, but he did not dare switch to his other hand. Without the use of his left hand to hold onto Luo Binghe, he was afraid he would lose his grip!

Despite having been sliced into a human stick, the Old Palace Master still retained his powerful spiritual force. It is no wonder Qiu Haitang still stuck with him. He had just thought of this when the Old Palace Master suddenly gave a drawn-out roar. A faint crack sounded from the scabbard of the Xiu Ya sword—it could not block the attack. The violent strike came, and Shen Qingqiu fell over backward. On the way down, he twisted around and used himself as a meat shield, not letting Luo Binghe hit the ground. He ended up squashed by the full weight of his body and saw stars.

The Old Palace Master finally stopped howling, and Qiu Haitang wheeled him over slowly. He seemed to calm down for a while as he stared down at Shen Qingqiu holding onto Luo Binghe: “Even while falling, you would still protect him.”

Qiu Haitang ground her teeth: “Fake, it’s all fake. This man…. at this time, just who are you putting on this show for!”

The Old Palace Master: “Why didn’t you use spiritual force to fight back?”

Shen Qingqiu said: “Naturally, it’s because I’m exhausted.”

Fine wispy threads of white floated over, about to land on Luo Binghe’s pale cheeks. Shen Qingqiu gently puffed at it, and the white fluff scattered away. The Old Palace Master assumed he had resigned himself to his fate, and stopped paying attention to him. He turned to focus his stare on Luo Binghe’s quietly sleeping face.

The madness he had displayed earlier while bellowing his attacks was wiped clean from his face, replaced with unnerving intensity.

Shen Qingqiu: “……”

This expression…… doesn’t seem right.

The Old Palace Master gazed at him for a long while then sighed: “When you close your eyes, you resemble her the most. And also when you’re being cold.”

His eyes traveled over Luo Binghe’s face greedily. If he still had hands, he would have reached out to fondle as well. Shen Qingqiu felt ill. He couldn’t help clasping Luo Binghe’s head and pulling him closer into his arms.

The two were now in a position where Luo Binghe was cozily snuggled against him with his head resting on Shen Qingqiu’s chest. Shen Qingqiu’s voice was low: “Open your eyes, he isn’t Su Xiyan.”

The name roused the Old Palace Master from his daze, and he began swearing in rage: “Why didn’t you heed my orders? Why won’t you obey! Did I not treat you well? Didn’t you want the Huan Hua Palace and my position? I know you’ve always wanted it! If you had been loyal to me, there’s nothing I would not have given to you! But first her, then you—both of you are ingrates! Ingrates!”

He raved and ranted, pouring his malice into a vicious diatribe against Tianlang-Jun and Shen Qingqiu, before continuing to snarl about ungratefulness. Suddenly, he turned his head, his twisted expression softening. He spoke in a coaxing manner: “Xiyan…. come over here…. Shizun has something nice for you, drink this….”

The Old Palace Master sank into a confused state again, saliva dribbling from the corners of his mouth. Qiu Haitang backed away slowly, disgust brimming in her eyes. Shen Qingqiu’s heart felt frozen in his chest as his nausea grew.

Unable to tolerate the Old Palace Master leering at him, Shen Qingqiu lifted the back of Luo Binghe’s head with his hand and pressed his face to his chest. Fed up, he snapped: “That’s enough!”

With Luo Binghe’s face hidden from sight, the Old Palace Master’s features went slack, the facial muscles twitching for a bit. Eyes filling with resentment, he opened his mouth.

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