Even the most beautiful of pieces had an end.
Though the strings slowly released their last reverberations, Jiang Chen’s audience felt the music echo still in their hearts.
Si Tong and Yao Guang traded an astonished look. They had been completely unprepared for the possibility that Jiang Chen could play such moving pieces. They hadn’t expected much of his musical prowess. The style of the pieces themselves were the only thing they had looked forward to.
Yes, the melodies were stunning, but his playing even more so. He’d started plucking the zither with an unpracticed hand – almost inept, in their eyes.
But it didn’t take long for him to get markedly better. Not quite perfect technically, but excellent nonetheless.
They couldn’t understand it. Jiang Chen had never been known for his musical skills, and indeed he seemed to be rather unfamiliar, skills-wise. Had he started learning in the womb?
Si Tong sighed softly. “You’ve hidden yourself well, Daoist Jiang. If I hadn’t heard you play myself, you might’ve slipped it past me.”
“Why do you say that?” Jiang Chen cracked a smile.
“Your pieces were nothing short of wonderful. Can you really play that while knowing only a little bit music? That’s a bit of a stretch, don’t you think?” Si Tong laughed. “Where would we put ourselves, if that is the case?”
Jiang Chen found it hard to answer. He had never considered his musical skills particularly remarkable.
Aside from his interactions with Huang’er, he had barely spent any time in this life on music at all. Considering this fact, he had done a pretty good job just now, if he did say so himself.
He was grateful for the zither for not messing him up, in fact.
“Sister, what say you?” Si Tong smiled at her companion, who was still dazed.
Having been biased against Jiang Chen before, Yao Guang was speechless. She gazed meaningfully at Jiang Chen for a while before speaking once more. “I guess he passes. Still, he can obviously play… what a liar!”
Jiang Chen laughed despite of his situation. He found it hard to argue this point. He hadn’t played much in this life, but his memories enriched him beyond imagining in a myriad of ways.
Si Tong smiled serenely. “As far as I know, Daoist Jiang isn’t in the habit of playing music by himself. Maybe he finds it an enjoyable hobby only with his partner, the pretty Miss Yan?”
She was open-minded enough to joke with him a little.
“The truth is, I haven’t spent much of my time on music,” Jiang Chen raised a fist salute. “What I showed to you is what I’ve seemed to know since birth. I didn’t learn it through tutelage or practice.”
Si Tong became serious. “There are rumors that you are a reincarnated god, Jiang Chen. So there’s more than a kernel of truth to that, huh? Some people are naturally talented in multiple areas. Like you, Daoist Jiang Chen?”
Though the reincarnation of gods was rare in well-developed martial dao worlds, it was nevertheless a real phenomenon. Jiang Chen’s characteristics certainly seemed to more than match up.
It was advantageous that the two girls believed his proficiency to stem from that.
Gan Ning and Wu You revered Jiang Chen’s ability to impress the two holy girls through his musical performance. They admired his proficiency in almost every pursuit.
The poison consort, these two holy girls, and Yu Ling from the Martial Sacred Land – senior brother Jiang Chen had won all of their hearts.
This was how a man should be!
“Honorable holy girls, senior brother Jiang Chen has played his music. You can release senior brother Sui Chen now, right?” Wei Yong, who had been silent until now, spoke up at this time.
Si Tong ignored him. Smiling, she glanced at Jiang Chen once more. “Daoist Jiang Chen, the previous test was my sister’s. I have one of my own. Would you be amenable to meeting my challenge?”
Jiang Chen didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. He could hardly turn down Si Tong though, now that he had already passed Yao Guang’s test.
“Please, go ahead.” He might as well feign generosity.
“Hehe, my test is pretty simple. I only have a few questions to ask,” giggled Si Tong. “First, among Myriad Abyss’s sixteen golden hairpins, what rank does Miss Yan occupy in your heart?” The holy girl flashed a mischievous grin.
Obviously, this question was asked with at least partial pointed trickery.
Jiang Chen chuckled. “There are plenty of fish in the sea, but only one of them is for me. Huang’er is number one, of course. No one can replace her.”
Yao Guang thinned her lips, evidently dissatisfied with the answer, while Si Tong maintained her smile. “That question was just for fun, alright? It doesn’t count.”
Jiang Chen was positively amazed. Is this really acceptable?
“Next question, if the Eternal Sacred Land becomes the leader of the alliance, Daoist Jiang will come into the spotlight at the forefront of Myriad Abyss as well. What is your opinion on Myriad Abyss’ future, or perhaps Divine Abyss Continent as a whole?”
This was suddenly a much more serious topic.
Jiang Chen reflected a long time before opening his mouth. “I don’t know whether Myriad Abyss, or Divine Abyss as a larger whole, can wait for us to grow into our potential as leaders. Hypothetically speaking, if that came to pass, then Myriad Abyss and the mainland must discard our biases and unite as one. Only then can we possibly hope to save ourselves. The revelation of the plane’s coordinates means that an offworld invasion from alien races threatens to enslave us all.”
“Easy to say, but hard to do. According to what we know, many deserted during the ancient demon-sealing war. They waited for others to make the painful sacrifices necessary to preserve the world.” Si Tong’s question was very pointed.
“There are cowards in any time of turmoil, but also heroes who rise to the challenge. They will bear the burden of the age upon their shoulders in the grand struggle with fate. I hope that I can count on you two to accompany me in this quest. Anyone and everyone has the ability to do what is right. A little less selfishness could do us all a lot of good.”
Jiang Chen didn’t advertise his own daring and fearlessness. To do so would be self-aggrandizing and useless.
Reality necessitated the consideration of each faction’s interests. Fighting for the greater good was important, but excessive self-sacrifice was impossible.
For example, he wouldn’t abandon his friends and family even if doing so would be more beneficial to the continent as a whole. He was working so hard precisely because he was fighting to save them. This was his personal justice.
Si Tong brooded over Jiang Chen’s reply.