Chapter 24 - Who are you?
In his yard within the Scented Cloud Mountain, Bai Xiaochun was looking at the jade tablet in his hand. With a shift of the Qi inside his body, the jade tablet immediately radiated a soft green light that enveloped his entire body.
Bai Xiaochun made a couple of signs with his left hand and a wooden sword instantly flew out. After it flew in a large circle, it shot straight back towards Bai Xiaochun. However, the moment it touched the cyan light, it suddenly slowed down as though it had been submerged in water.
“My precious!” Bai Xiaochun muttered to himself. His expression was a little embarrassed as he put away his wooden sword and held onto the jade tablet.
“Nah, it’ll be fine. Li Qinghou might be Zhou Xinqi’s master, but he’s my guide on the path to immortality. According to this relationship, I should, by rights, call him uncle. I should be much closer to him than Zhou Xinqi.” Bai Xiaochun coughed. He put the jade tablet away and stood there as he stretched lazily.
By the time he ate most of Li Qinghou’s spirit tailed chickens, his Unending Longevity Technique had been improved greatly. Currently, it was already seventy percent completed. However, the spirit tailed chickens’ meat only helped in boosting his body’s vitality but not his Qi. Although his cultivation was still at the fourth level of Qi Condensation, his condensation technique had become more profound, as though it had been thoroughly compressed.
As for the chicken bones, he had buried them all in the spirit field. By now, the whole field’s spirit soil had been infused with extremely rich Qi. In fact, it was already overkill to the extent that the Spirit Winter Bamboo planted there had already grown to over two zhang tall. Furthermore, its trunk which was bright green color had already started to darken.
(TL note: one zhang is equal to 3.58 meters, or 3.645 yards)
As for all the important three-coloured flame spirit tails, Bai Xiaochun already had several hundred. Upon thinking about the fact that these tails, when burnt, would produce three-coloured flames, Bai Xiaochun’s heart would be filled with anticipation..
"There’s no rush to train in my cultivation. As long as I have enough medicine pills that I can refine thrice with three-coloured flames, the speed at which my level rises will be comparable to the speed of light. Successfully taking small steps is firmer and safer.” Just as Bai Xiaochun thought about this, his belly suddenly growled. He glanced towards the chicken-rearing yards in Scented Cloud Mountain but soon shifted his gaze to the Purple Cauldron Mountain in the distance.
“First Brother is in Purple Cauldron Mountain, I wonder how he’s doing right now.” Bai Xiaochun sank into reminiscence as he recalled everything that had happened during his time in the Burning Stoves Kitchen. He stood up, walked out of the yard, headed down the mountain and rushed straight towards the Purple Cauldron Mountain.
There were three mountains on the south bank of the Spirit River Sect. The Green Peak Mountain focused mainly on sword manipulation, the Scented Cloud Mountain excelled at creating spirit medicine, while the Purple Cauldron Mountain was famous for its techniques and spirit refinements. All of the basic techniques as well as the Purple Qi Cauldron Manipulation Technique originated from the Purple Cauldron Mountain.
Bai Xiaochun walked along the small road that went through the sect. He arrived at the foot of Purple Cauldron Mountain at dusk. As he looked up at the Purple Cauldron Mountain swathed in clouds and mist, he saw several figures as small as black dots floating in the sky turn into streaks of rainbow-coloured lights. As he watched those figures, complex emotions filled his mind.
"I don’t know when it’ll be that I too will be able to fly. Only when I have mastered this can I explore the vast outside world and truly consider myself as having stepped onto the path of immortality." Bai Xiaochun’s eyes revealed anticipation as he climbed up the Purple Cauldron Mountain.
Even though he was not a disciple of the Purple Cauldron Mountain, as an outer sect disciple, he was still qualified to enter all the mountains. On his way up the mountain, he asked everyone he met for the location of Zhang Dahai’s house. Because his face was filled with an angelic innocence that easily endeared people to him, it didn’t take long for him to find out the place where Zhang Dahai was living. Following the directions that was given to him, he quickly arrived at his destination.
(ED: for those of you who can’t remember, Zhang Dahai is Zhang Fatso One’s name)
Unlike his yard on Scented Cloud Mountain, Zhang Fatso One’s house was located on the sun-facing slope of the mountain peak. The Qi there was evidently richer and only a few houses were built there. One next to the other, all the lofts there looked like a sky ornately decorated with stars, seemingly in some sort of a pattern.
As dusk arrived, it was getting dimmer, but the surroundings wrapped by thin clouds and mist were still visible. Coupled with the spirit plants that were growing everywhere, it looked like a fairy’s land.
"First Brother must have some great backing to actually be able to live in such a place. It’s so much better than mine.” Bai Xiaochun took a deep breath of the surrounding Qi as an envious expression was written on his face.
After searching for a while, he finally found the Zhang Fatso One’s house. When he saw that the yard inside was overgrown with weeds and seemed like it had been neglected for a long time, Bai Xiaochun was momentarily confused, then he knocked on the gate. But even after waiting for a while, nobody responded.
"Did I make a mistake?" Just as Bai Xiaochun was wondering about this, within the yard, the main gate of the loft creaked open. A man with skinny figure and a flying sword in his hand came out. A silver glow on his left hand dimmed as he walked out wearily. In the next moment, an even voice resounded.
"Who is it?!" Just then, the skinny man’s body suddenly jerked when he saw Bai Xiaochun across the yard. His face instantly revealed a surprised glee, as though he had spotted a dear family member. He jumped up quickly and pulled open the door. As he gazed at Bai Xiaochun, he began to laugh loudly.
"Who are you?" Bai Xiaochun opened his eyes widely as he immediately
retreated a few steps. He felt like he vaguely recognised this guy standing in front of him, but why was it that he looked so unfamiliar?
The person’s appearance was ordinary and his body was as thin as a stick. It couldn’t be called skin and bones yet but it was almost at that level. Even though his eyes were bright, his sockets were deeply hollowed. As waves of Qi radiated from his body, it seemed like he had already reached the peak of the fourth level Qi Condensation.
"Fatso Nine, I am Fatso One!" When the skinny young man saw Bai Xiaochun, he felt like weeping but no tears came out. As he continued speaking, intense indignation and grief were exposed on his face.
"Fatso Nine, you can’t imagine how much suffering I’ve undergone this year! My master has been very harsh to me! The first time she saw me, she told me that she didn’t like fatsos and willingly starved me for half a year!”
"Half a year already, Fatso Nine! Do you know what that half a year did to me? What you’re seeing now is the outcome of having spent a long time to recover my body.” It was true. This skinny young man was indeed Zhang Fatso One. By the time he finished speaking, his tears had already flowed out.
"You must have some enmity with your master, right?" Bai Xiaochun looked sympathetically at Zhang Fatso One.
"That old bitch, I…..." Zhang Fatso One grinded his teeth in anger, but after a few words, he stopped and shuddered, not daring to continue. He pulled Bai Xiaochun into the yard.
"Ninth Brother, I miss the Burning Stoves Kitchen. This place is really not suitable for people to live. From the day that I arrived here, I haven’t eaten a single fulfilling meal and haven’t earned a single coin. I’m starving!" Zhang Fatso One was so full of grievances that he couldn’t help but pull on Bai Xiaochun’s hand and tell him of all the pain and suffering he had endured from the moment he had first arrived on the mountain till now.
Bai Xiaochun carefully listened to the other party’s ordeals. Compared to Zhang Fatso One, he suddenly thought that he was absolutely correct in his decision to steal those spirit tailed chickens. He couldn’t help but sigh whenever he looked at the skinny body of Zhang Fatso One. Bai Xiaochun could only grimace as he patted Zhang Fatso One’s bony shoulder.
“With First Brother in trouble, I, your junior brother, will naturally help you. I’ll be back in the time it takes for an incense stick to burn.” As Bai Xiaochun finished his words, he immediately turned around and left the yard, leaving Zhang Fatso One standing in a daze. Before Bai Xiaochun went up the mountain, he had already noticed and memorised the locations of several chicken coops on Purple Cauldron Mountain. In the darkness of the night, his figure soon disappeared.
Zhang Fatso One didn’t understand what was happening and he didn’t know where Bai Xiaochun had gone. The only thing that he could do was to wait at the door. But before the time it took for a stick of incense to burn had passed, Bai Xiaochun crept back with two spirit tailed chickens in his hand.
The moment he saw the spirit tailed chickens, Zhang Fatso One immediately widened his eyes. Before he could open his mouth and say anything, Bai Xiaochun grabbed him by the arm and pulled him inside the yard. Leaving Zhang Fatso One aside, Bai Xiaochun skillfully took out a pot, boiled some water, then plucked and cleansed the chickens. Finally, he just dropped the chickens inside the pot before he flourished his sleeves, raised his chin, and looked up at Zhang Fatso One.
Zhang Fatso One pointed at the chickens inside the pot and then pointed towards Bai Xiaochun.
“ You… you…heavens! Could it be that you’re the Mad Chicken-Stealing Devil from the Scented Cloud Mountain?!”
A laugh rang out from Bai Xiaochun while he lifted his right hand skillfully and pressed on the pot. At this time, rich streams of Qi roiled around, cooking the chicken meat inside even faster. Soon, when waves of aroma wafted out, Bai Xiaochun grabbed a drumstick and dropped it in front of Zhang Fatso One.
“Try it!” Bai Xiaochun proudly said. His expression was the same as the look Zhang Fatso had when he had held the hundred-year ginseng at the Burning Stoves Kitchen during the time Bai Xiaochun had first arrived there.
Zhang Fatso One’s mouth was watering. He stared at the chicken drumstick, before grabbing it and swallowing it whole. Without saying anything to Bai Xiaochun, he instantly rushed towards the big pot and nearly submerged his whole face inside it. The two of them ate those two chickens very quickly. Reluctant to waste the slightest bit, even the bones were consumed. In the end, they had even cleaned up the broth that was left.
At the end, Zhang Fatso One pat his stomach contentedly and laid down with a delighted expression. He and Bai Xiaochun looked at each other for a good while before they both burst into laughter.
“That was awesome, Fatso Nine. In the Burning Stoves Kitchen, you are the one with the craziest ideas. But I could have never guessed that the infamous Mad Chicken-Stealing Devil would turn out to be you, my Brother.” Zhang Fatso One said with a prideful expression as if he were ennobled by it as well.
“Cultivation has always been an act of defiance against nature. For junior cultivators like us who oppose the heavens, we need to rely on each other. Mere spirit tailed chickens are nothing compared with our combined might.” Bai Xiaochun flourished his sleeves, unable to hide his pride and complacency. His identity had been kept secret for a long time and he was happy to finally share it with someone. He thought of himself as extremely cool when he saw Zhang Fatso One’s expression.
"It's just a pity that all of those spirit tailed chickens in Scented Cloud Mountain have nearly been depleted by me. The ones who are left are too young to eat, unpalatable. Otherwise you could come live with me and I would take good care of you. I’ll definitely find you something to help you get fat again.” Bai Xiaochun said with a sigh.
As Zhang Fatso One heard this, his eyes quickly brightened and he got up immediately.
"There are also spirit tailed chickens on the west, south and north of the Purple Cauldron Mountain. But there are disciples who take turns keeping watch. Two shifts a day, and each shift has seven people.” Zhang Fatso One quickly opened his mouth and provided extremely detailed information. As he did, he discovered that Bai Xiaochun was looking at him with a surprised look. Then he intentionally made a dry cough to let him finish his words.
“After hearing of the Mad Chicken-Stealing Devil, I was planning to learn from him. But these spirit tailed chickens are too alert to catch. Everytime I get close to them, they start crowing. As a result, I had no success and nearly got caught instead.” Zhang Fatso One said with a little embarrassed.
Bai Xiaochun went wild with joy and leaned closer to Zhang Fatso One. Then two people started plotting, causing Zhang Fatso One’s eyes to glow brighter and brighter. At this moment, he was already breathing heavily. A few moments later, the two people were beaming with joy as they laughed.
In the deep dark night, ghastly sounding laughter echoed from the yard.
Since that day, Bai Xiaochun simply moved in together with Zhang Fatso One. The spirit tailed chickens of Purple Cauldron Mountain started disappearing one after the other.
When night came, the two chicken thieves would come out, one stealing and one keeping watch. Disciples on the Purple Cauldron Mountain soon burst into an uproar with everybody talking about the recent events.
“Did you hear that Purple Cauldron Mountain has been targeted by the Mad Chicken-Stealing Devil from Scented Cloud Mountain?”
“I saw it with my own eyes. The Mad Chicken-Stealing Devil is not a single person. It is two!”
When this information spread throughout the whole Scented Cloud Mountain, all of the outer sect disciples couldn’t help but take a deep breath and watch the Purple Cauldron Mountain with pity in their eyes.
“Finally, this Mad Chicken-Stealing Devil is going to play fairly. Thank god, Scented Cloud Mountain will no longer be his only target.”