Joy of Life - Chapter 238

[Updated at: 2021-01-12 01:47:47]
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Chapter 238: Fan Xian Jumps off the Cliff

Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio

On a grassy mound to the edge of the cliff, a crashing noise was heard.

Fan Xian glided through the air, as if harnessing the essence of the atmosphere itself. Upon the ground below, Lang Tao stood firm like an obelisk of stone, as if channeling the very power of the earth. In the space of a few seconds, their zhenqi met with a collision that brought utter ruin to the unkempt grass that paved their battleground.

Lang Tao groaned, before twirling around to penetrate his knife deep into Xiao En’s chest.

Lang Tao’s mission comprised of two objectives; the slaying of Fan Xian and the slaying of Xiao En. If he was unable to overcome Fan Xian in mortal combat, then he would have to resort to the killing of Xiao En first; this was repeated to him many times by his master, Ku He.

Fan Xian’s fists bore at Lang Tao with the heat of fire, but his enemy spun like a whirlwind. Both knives lusted for Fan Xian’s soul with each swipe, each making Fan Xian’s chest their primary target.

As Fan Xian was unable to garner reprieve from Lang Tao’s relentless assault, Xiao En lay upon the ground dying, transforming this battle into one of tremendous stakes. Grinding his teeth, Fan Xian committed to his most reckless act since the dawn of his new life. He chose to disregard Lang Tao’s spinning blades, and instead take hold of Xiao En’s clothes. In this moment, where death could greet either of the two at any second, Fan Xian raised his knee.

Lang Tao’s knives made contact, but the sound emitted was not of the piercing of flesh, but of the ringing of a thick metal.

Fan Xian grunted, before exerting strength into a vault that lifted him above and beyond Lang Tao’s head. Whilst airborne, he flicked his enemy’s ear before returning to the ground; this was his little trick.

Lang Tao suddenly felt a prickling pain stem from his ear, and so he raised an eyebrow in bewilderment.

Fan Xian’s left calf was overcome with pain, as if it had been struck by a lightning bolt. Unable to pause, however, he grabbed Xiao En and pushed forward towards an open clearing so that he might briefly recompose.

Then, without a second thought, he ran toward the cliffside and leapt off.

Lang Tao was baffled, and his face froze amidst the confusion. He was convinced he had managed to slice Fan Xian’s lower leg, but he questioned as to why the cut emitted a sound as if he had struck steel. He was supremely confident in his abilities of swordplay, not to mention his competence with the sacred arts that made it possible for him to cut through materials composed of pure gold and iron. Even if his opponent were to have been clothed in heavy armor, he was sure that the strike he had dealt would have severed the leg clean off. How then, had Fan Xian been able to withstand such a blow?

Lang Tao and Friar He approached the cliffside and glanced over the edge. The sun shone brightly at this time, but it still wasn’t enough to pierce and disperse the thick fog which cloaked the valley. All they had been able to glimpse were the faint, fleeting shadows of one young man and one old man falling out of sight. A while later, an audible thud sounded from below. Although light to their ears, the mere fact that they were both able to hear the sound of something hitting the ground from such a high, fatal drop, was a testament to the velocity of their fall.

“They must have fallen to their deaths,” Friar He said.

Lang Tao shook his head remorsefully and spoke: “It will take more than that to kill Xiao En, and even more still for Fan Xian.”

Lang Tao and Friar He were both of the sparse few that comprised the Rank Nine elites in Shangjing. Yet despite that, they were unable to defeat a severely wounded Xiao En and Fan Xian, the newest member to broach their rank. Their inability to complete this task made their hearts stern.

“It will be impossible for them to climb back up.” Friar He frowned as he said this.

Lang Tao scanned the valley once more. The cliffs that composed the Yan Mountains were straight like razorblades. The Four Great Grandmasters of the world would be unable to ascend the cliffs of such a place, so the thought of ordinary soldiers doing so was preposterous. In agreement, Lang Tao nodded and said, “Send word to Shen Zhong and have a search party scour the mountains below to be doubly sure.”

The two elites continued to peer into the mists below. With troubled minds, they reflected upon their battle with Fan Xian and Xiao En. There was something amiss, they thought.

“Why would Fan Xian go to such lengths to save Xiao En?” Friar He asked, with uncertainty.

“The strength Fan Xian displayed far exceeded the apprentice’s prior evaluation,” Lang Tao stated.

All of a sudden, Lang Tao opened his eyes wide and shakily drew upon his knife, severing a part of his ear off without hesitation. Friar He had always possessed unshakeable faith in what his master, Ku He taught him. He frowned and looked upon his lap, where Fan Xian’s crossbow bolt had grazed him. Although it did not hurt, the slight cut appeared black. He grimaced and said, “This man that they refer to as ‘Fan Xian’ is wicked.”

Lang Tao replied with a deep voice: “Have you forgotten that Fan Xian of the southern Qi Kingdom is renowned for his dishonorable tricks?”

Even as he said this, Lang Tao thought back to his combat with Fan Xian. He could not help but wonder how his opponent possessed such overwhelming zhenqi. It weighed upon his mind, for he had not known anyone else to possess such aggressive and cruel zhenqi. It was of greater power than any others he had ever bore witness to.

What do people normally run into when they leap from cliffs? Do they see expert martial artists? Pretty women? Secret knowledge? Infinite wealth?

When Fan Xian contemplated his leap from the cliffs, it dawned upon him that he was indeed carrying an expert martial artist with him. If he was to land slightly off-mark, he knew it would be an abrupt farewell to the beautiful woman awaiting his return home. The infinite wealth left behind by his mother would be squandered. And so would the possibility of ever learning the secrets of the legendary tome which, upon his passing, would undoubtedly be burned by his Uncle Wu Zhu on his behalf.

If he were to die there, he knew that his most wonderful mentor, Uncle Wu Zhu – unexciting, unidirectional teaching strategies aside – would never be able to overcome such a tragedy.

When he was young, Wu Zhu performed the leap-from-a-cliff trick for Fan Xian and at the time, it was the most frightening thing he had ever witnessed. Therefore, in time, he came to learn the method of this skill himself and practiced it unceasingly. Even on his honeymoon in the Cang Mountains, Fan Xian never let slip an opportunity to practice the trick some more. And now, the years of vigorous practice had at long last paid off. To do so with the weight of another man upon his shoulders, through blinding mist no less, was an incredible feat. He maintained control over his momentum and velocity by skirting, sliding, and stepping down along the smooth cliffside. This manner of control also allowed him to keep track of his pre-determined landing spot, which was to be a protruding yet flat-faced rock far below.

Fan Xian`s legs made contact with the rock. The overwhelming zhenqi within his body aided in making it an untroubled landing. That being said, his left leg had been severely wounded by Lang Tao`s blade and, with a groan, he fell to the floor.

He had no time to reel in pain, however, and so Fan Xian sprang back into action. He approached a large boulder and gave it a hefty shove further down the cliff, the sound it made was that of a heavy thud.

“Are you insane?” Behind him, Fan Xian caught sight of a cave. The terribly wounded Xiao En had already made his way inside, and thus had the time to ridicule Fan Xian for his actions by further saying, “I’d like to see how you plan on climbing back up there!”

Fan Xian`s only response was to shrug his shoulders. He was most certainly not going to divulge his secrets to the dying old man. Looking to gain an understanding of his new environment, Fan Xian peered further into the cave. The last thing he desired was for this place to harbor some affiliation with Zhang. Returning to Xiao En, he presented him with a certain pill.

Graciously, Xiao En accepted the pill and proceeded to swallow it promptly. With further ridicule, however, he told Fan Xian: “Twenty years ago, the likes of Lang Tao and Friar He could never have hoped to oppose me. What about you, eh? You are the Commissioner of the southern Qi Kingdom`s Overwatch Council, are you not? Chen Pingping and Fei Jie`s successor, yes? But you were made to leap off a cliff, only to survive the fall and now be forced to rot away in this cave, to die of starvation.”

These words did not rile Fan Xian up. Instead, they made him smile and so he replied, “When an old man likes to talk about ‘the good old days’, it usually means he’s dying.”

Xiao En paid little heed to these words and said, “Nothing can be done to alleviate these wounds. I am fine with this, for I have nothing more to lose. What I do not understand, is why someone as young as you would go to such lengths to save a fellow like me.” He stopped talking for a brief while, before resuming: “Furthermore, how on earth did you summon the courage to leap off that cliff, with such thick fog masking your vision?”

“Your so-called godson is a remarkable fighter, but he is not one for plans, secrets, and diplomacy.” Fan Xian pulled out a needle from his hair and poked it into Xiao En’s body to cease the bleeding. Following this, he said, “Even the Brocade Guard were able to uncover where you two were supposed to meet, let alone me. It takes little thought to surmise this was a set-up.”

Xiao En had no quarrel with allowing Fan Xian to perform his practice of medicine upon him, but he couldn’t help but roll his eyes. Xiao En called out an observation, stating, “Your needle contains a poison.”

Fan Xian hadn’t the motivation to explain and instead replied with, “You are dying and your body possesses a few hundred manners of toxins, anyway. What harm can one more do?”

Xiao En coughed twice, and his eyelids began to grow heavy. The behavior and temperament of a dying soul is a strange one.

Fan Xian could see that the old man was going to die due to severe blood loss. Already, his face had gone pale. But all of a sudden, Fan Xian asked, “When Shen Zhong had the courtyard surrounded, you should have known that the Brocade Guard knew full well of Shang Shanhu’s plans to save you. Why do you still continue?”

“Continue what?”

“Continue to pretend that you were injured upon your flight from the capital. You knew full well that those elites were lying in wait for you and you knew that those who fought so hard to rescue you were all dead.”

Xiao En looked at Fan Xian, and after a brief period of silence, he began to laugh. “Perhaps I am cooperating with the Brocade Guard, playing the helpless victim? Perhaps I am simply luring you out, so that you may die with me.”

Fan Xian, tired of his jests, finally said, “Can’t you be serious for once?”

Xiao En’s eyesight drifted to look past Fan Xian’s shoulders, and take in the deep valley. The sunlight was getting brighter and brighter and the fog that dressed the cliffs began to clear. In the distance, one could see the mountain that looked like a cracked yellow mirror. It was of another kind of beauty.

“I had been locked away for so long, I always dreaded the thought of dying in that cell,” Xiao En said solemnly.

Fan Xian turned around to look in the direction that captivated Xiao En’s attention so much, and noticed that up ahead was a mountain with a surface that was incredibly smooth, only marred by the occasional cracks that were not unlike the shape of lightning bolts. Upon the mountainside, a single lone tree was seen to be growing there. And whilst it looked sorrowful, standing there all alone, it’s determination to do so, with profoundly green leaves, was admirable.

“This place has yellow mountains and green trees. Down below, there is water and white fog. This place would make for a fine tomb.”

Fan Xian smiled and began to sort out his right leg’s pants. The Overwatch Council’s clothing was of tremendous worth, being fireproof, pickpocket-proof and cut-proof. It was remarkable, therefore, to see how Lang Tao’s knives managed to cut through that which threaded this clothing. Fan Xian unequipped the dagger given to him by Fei Jie, but held the curved blade gently for a while and said, “Thank you. I had no desire of changing my name to Fan Pingping.”

“Why would you stupidly get into such a fight and thrust yourself into this grave situation?” As he asked, Xiao En curiously examined the face of the disguise that Fan Xian still wore. He took particular notice of his dry lips. Perhaps when on the verge of death, one’s curiosity heightens?

Fan Xian placed the dagger near his foot. He began massaging the clogged veins of his wounded left calf and softly spoke: “When I found out this was an ambush set by the Northerners, I was prepared to fall back. But when I saw that you were dying, I have no idea what spurred me into action.”

The reason, however, was quite simple; Fan Xian desired to know Xiao En’s secrets. He wanted to know where the temple was, and the relationship that existed between the temple and Ye Qingmei, and of his rebirth into this world. He wanted to know about his life, where he came from and he wanted to know about his arrogant mother. Fan Xian had always cherished his life, but for just this once, he was willing to risk it all.