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“I am the unworthy child of Deputy Provincial Governor Zhao.” Zhao Yuanjing seemed to laugh bashfully and lowered his voice. “If Mr. Xu has any unpleasant matters to speak of in Mingshui Province later on, find us brothers to smooth things over… Right, Mr. Xu, Brother Chu left a trunk here last year; said it was yours?”
Xu Yangyi smiled and nodded. So the person Chu Zhaonan had spoken of turned out to be Zhao Yuanjing. As for the other person, Xu Yangyi felt it to be a tad interesting. It was Hu Ba.
“What are you doing?” Xu Yangyi asked.
Hu Ba was like a servant, helping them pull open the car door and silently getting into the driver’s seat.
“This business is interesting.” Zhao Yuanjing chuckled, “Hu Ba is a distant relative of Minister Hu of the Ministry of Land and Public Resources, too. However, he just requested my support for a word. He wants to pay respects to Mr. Xu and study martial arts under your school. Of course, I dare not come to a decision. Mr. Xu nevertheless has to be requested to make a decision.”
“He is unable to study my martial arts.” Xu Yangyi didn’t even look at Hu Ba and sat down in the back seat.
Hu Ba didn’t say anything as well, and it was moreover impossible for Zhao Yuanjing to urge the matter. Following the growl of the ignition firing up, they drove towards the Four Great Joint Pools once more in the dark night.
On the road, Zhao Yuanjing made indirect and covert inquiries about Xu Yangyi’s origins. Nonetheless, whatever was asked was met with nothing. He felt it was strange; he had probed many things that needed to be known in society’s discourse and even used many kinds of etiquette association methods in an experimental nature, yet he discovered Xu Yangyi was simply ignorant.
How did a man like this get Chu Zhaonan to say to him: “you must handle this man’s affairs later on with all of your heart”? How was such a person intersected with their lives?
Yet as it happened, this unquestionable man lacked the restlessness of his peers in each and every one of his moves. Instead, his calmness caused Zhao Yuanjing to feel praise. He was able to clearly sense this serenity was in no way manufactured.
There was even an instant where he grew skeptical of Chu Zhaonan’s sexual orientation. Afterwards… he found it too dreadful to contemplate in detail…
So, in the midst of such idle chatting, they drove all the way to the Four Great Joint Pools.
Beneath the cover of night, there were many travelers and photography enthusiasts camping at the lakeside of the Four Great Joint Pools. In the night, the vast starry sky was like a cleansing, and the night sky was like an inky blackness. The silver radiance that spilled down on the lake’s surface revealed rays of glimmering light which reflected on the waves, as if the surface was a floating and drifting mirror. The summertime fireflies that glimmered like the stars fluttered at the lakeside grass. The gentle sound of the wind and the muffled voices of people didn’t make this place feel noisy, but instead contrasted its tranquility.
The sides of the pool water stretched as far as the eye could see. Over a dozen volcanoes were like torches in the night, towering below the intimate, divine serenity. Among them, there was a tremendous dead volcano that was no less than a thousand meters high and 3,000 to 4,000 meters wide. Like the sacred flame of a torch, the volcanoes bordered the heavens.
“Sir, this is China’s famous volcanic chain dating back to the Quaternary period. The Four Great Joint Pool’s volcanic chain constitutes fifteen volcanoes in total. The biggest volcano is that one called Old Black Mountain.” Li Zongyuan respectfully helped Xu Yangyi open the car door, laughing as he explained.
Xu Yangyi looked at the volcanic group before his eyes in somewhat of a trance. The blue sky was unlimited and the open plains were boundless. In this infiniteness, the volcanoes were like fifteen sharp swords. Even a distant viewing caused one’s heart to shake.
However, who would’ve expected that in the volcanic lakes of the greatest Old Black Mountain, there was a millennium-old demon concealed away several hundred meters beneath the water?
The miracle of creation, a lost pond of ancient times, and the concentrated blooming of worldly qi ultimately converged here. It formed a truth that humans were hard-pressed to realize.
“Mr. Zhao.” Xu Yangyi looked at the continuous undulation of the fifteen volcanoes. Under the curtain of night, the volcanic group was like a crouching tiger. He said quietly, “I have minor business you cannot accompany me on.”
In his heart, Zhao Yuanjing was somewhat troubled. He would act on Chu Zhaonan’s instruction. However, if Xu Yangyi didn’t take the initiative to be friendly with him, could it be that he had come to gild face?
“It’s of no consequence, Mr. Xu. I’ll take your car and rest.” However, Zhao Yuanjing didn’t reveal a thing, his laughter still resplendent. “If Mr. Xu goes tomorrow, we can walk together again. Do you mind?”
Xu Yangyi glanced at him and nodded. “If we still haven’t returned by tomorrow evening, you may go first.”
Zhao Yuanjing smiled and nodded, lighting a cigarette. Narrowing his eyes as he watched Xu Yangyi and Li Zongyuan’s departing silhouettes, he suddenly sneered, “It really is a show.”
“You think you’re awesome since Brother Chu has your back?” Both his hands extended out and parted, and he combed his hair that the wind had made messy. “I’m willing to help you with heart, and without. Although it’s work either way, there’s a big difference…”
Xu Yangyi and Li Zongyuan strolled to the foot of the mountain but didn’t walk on the proper path. Instead, they walked to an extremely desolate region. Since the beginning they left the car, Li Zongyuan had a bag on his back. Now that he opened the bag, the inside was packed with camouflage attire, combat boots, and the required necessities.
Xu Yangyi began to change clothes without a second word. Several minutes later, he breathed in deeply. “This clothing will do.”
“Are you certain this is it?”
“Set your mind at ease, sir, it’s right.”
Xu Yangyi nodded and drew back a few steps. In the next second, spiritual force suddenly revolved around his entire body! A formidable power belonging to the middle stage of Qi Condensation caused his entire being to become akin to an arrow departing its bow string, rushing towards a pathless mountain wall!
“Ninety-Seven… Tiger Crane!”
With each of Xu Yangyi’s stomps, a deep dent immediately emerged where his foot fell. Taking advantage of this forward charge, he closed an instantaneous distance of six to seven meters. He was like a lizard crawling beyond, drawing not the slightest attention as he climbed upwards within the darkness of night.
Click… Click… At the same time Xu Yangyi ascended above, he was none the wiser that a bearded man was continually pressing down on a shutter release with his hand trembling. The man dared not even activate his lighting, and his Adam’s apple shook desperately. His hand shaking fiercely like he was spasming, his camera lens was directly facing Xu Yangyi.
At a simple and crude tent, the bearded middle-aged man had bread, milk, and some sealed provisions placed at the side of his leg. Nonetheless, he had no time to eat. Just now, his constructed digital camcorder was prepared to film a private educational video about the Four Great Joint Pools at night. Yet through a series of unexpected events, he had to leave for the bathroom. As he was glimpsing over the digital camcorder, however, he saw something serious!
This was in no way a human!
If it was a man, there was simply no chance that it could run up the mountain like so! A leap of six to seven meters… Dashing up the mountain without a path at all, w-was this Tarzan of the Jungle?
“A cryptid… This is surely a cryptid…” His breathing became rushed as if he was an astronomy enthusiast that had filmed a real flying saucer. His right hand was originally holding a newspaper that had a shocking title emblazoned on the cover: A Mysterious Water Monster Appears Unexpectedly at the Four Great Joint Pools. Presently, this hand had somehow let go of the paper.
He wanted to put the paper on his leg, yet begrudgingly he picked it up and set it down a few times, finally opting to throw it on the ground. Lowering his voice, he shouted towards the tent, “Old Fang! Old Fang! Quickly! Hurry up! Something huge has happened!”
He shouted a couple times, but there was no response. Nervous, he was wet with sweat. He wanted to go in and wake the other up, yet he was afraid he wouldn’t witness this astonishing scene with his own eyes! Between this tangle of deep worry, hey leaned over and collapsed, his face anxious in one moment and excited in the next. Finally, he gritted his teeth. I yelled a few times, but you didn’t get up, so I won’t shout! Serves you right that you can’t see this!
He fiddled excitedly with the digital camcorder, pulling the camera lens closer. However… it was too distant now. He could only capture a humanoid organism on a thousand-meter-tall sloped cliff as if it was running and leaping like a strong and robust mountain antelope. Even he couldn’t confirm whether or not this was a person!
Was it a yeti? A legendary undiscovered species? A martial arts super expert? Hot damn! Regardless of which one it was, he was too excited to sleep!
“Damn… Damn! If I knew earlier I could snag a photo of this, I would’ve definitely bought a specialized camera worth a couple ten thousand! T-This is too fuckin’ sweet!” He clenched his teeth and rubbed his hands in excitement, all of his sleepiness having vanished without a trace.
Xu Yangyi didn’t know that he had already been taken as a yeti, an inhuman species. To climb this mountain, not to mention himself at the middle stage of Qi Condensation, even an initial-stage cultivator would hardly spare any effort in this task as well. Li Zongyuan had long since morphed into his demon form, blindly following behind Xu Yangyi.
“Sir, how about I carry you?”
Xu Yangyi shook his head. He felt he hadn’t moved around in a long time, so he wanted nothing more than to move around and stretch his legs. His hand grabbing onto a rock, both of his legs pierced into the mountain like a chisel. He narrowed his eyes and looked at the bright moon and myriad stars in the sky. While they were still so far from him, it seemed as if he capable of reaching out with his hand and touching them at this instant.
Under his feet, a tree that was several hundred meters tall had already become the size of an ant. He could even see a few indiscernible tents. Above, the moonlight dyed the night clouds with different depths of black. Occasionally, a night bird could be seen flying past. The fresh air poured into the bottom of the heart and caused a man to flutter away and ascend, a desire for immortality.
“Gazing at the sunlit clouds slowly rising amidst the mountain, my spirit is washed. At the extremes of my eye, I trace a returning bird secretly embarking into the mountain grove.” He lamented sympathetically.
“Nice poem!” Li Zongyuan wasted no time to praise.
“...” Xu Yangyi silently swept an eye over this imbecile, and his hand gently grabbed out again. Utilizing spiritual force this time, he crossed no less than a dozen feet in a twinkling. Afterwards, he used both his hands like tiger claws and nimbly grabbed onto the cliff wall.
“Fuckin’ A! The hell is this!” Xu Yangyi’s action caused the bearded man’s eyes to spark. “This is a fucking flying squirrel! What the heck is this thing? A mountain spirit? A field monster? Twenty meters in a single jump? The reincarnation of a frog?!”
The man truly did almost squeeze into his camera, to the extent that he guessed for a couple tens of minutes as to what this nearby creature’s appearance was. Was its entire body covered in hair? Did it have a single eye or horn? Did it have hands so long that it went past its knees?
Damn! God damn! It was all because of this damned digital camcorder! It was too much of a let down!
Xu Yangyi didn’t know that there was a quiet spectator. After his spiritual force erupted in its entirety, he scaled close to the mountain top in merely half an hour.
Li Zongyuan panted roughly from behind. At the beginning, when Xu Yangyi didn’t use spiritual force and only relied on his cultivation-fortified body, he was still able to equally maintain the same level. But once Xu Yangyi flared with spiritual force, he had long since been flung distant at the rear!
Xu Yangyi laughed. From what he could see from where he was, there was still over a hundred meters to reach the mountain top. He sucked in deeply and stifled the boiling passion within his heart.
Since the commencement of the graduation ceremony, the two words “Emperor Armament” had followed him doggedly like a lingering shadow. All his affairs were connected to the Emperor Armament.
1. I had no idea what this was in Chinese until I looked it up. So in China, the name for Tarzan of the Jungle is “Orangutan of Mount Tai”. For those unaware, Tarzan is a Disney character. A jungle man that lives in the forest. Interesting to note though that Mount Tai = Taishan is how Tarzan’s name is pinyinized.
2. Poem by Tang Poet Du Fu.
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