unsheathed – Chapter 69: Night

Chapter 69: Night

Chapter 69: Night

The town had suddenly turned completely dark, so dark that one was unable to see their own hand laid out in front of them, and it was as if an extremely rare solar eclipse were taking place.

In addition to that, the cracks and pops ringing out from the deity statues outside of the town were becoming more and more frequent. Those sounds were particularly jarring in the silence of the night, and they only served to further fuel the speculation in the hearts of the town's residents. Thinking back to all of the ox-drawn carriages and horse-drawn carriages that had recently left the town, all of the residents were growing more and more uneasy by the day.

Within the manors of all of the affluent clans, whenever a servant tried to put up some lanterns in order to illuminate the darkness, they would immediately be loudly scolded, and some of the particularly short-tempered members of those clans would even rush out to pull the lanterns down before stamping them out with their feet. As they did so, they would glower furiously at the servants as if they were sworn enemies, even though those servants only had good intentions.Fllw ew stories at n/v(e)lb/in(.)com

Over at the blacksmith's forge, Chen Ping'an was having lunch with Ning Yao while seated on the edge of a well, and he was rather perplexed by the sudden transition from day to night, but he continued eating without delay. All of the laborers at the blacksmith's forge were fed very well, and each of them would receive a piece of fatty braised meat the size of an index finger with each meal.

Additionally, they would receive a spoonful of oil and all the rice that they could eat, but only that single piece of meat. Chen Ping'an would always have roughly two large bowls of rice with each meal, so after receiving the piece of braised meat from the chef, he would always eat the first bowl of rice with nothing but the juices from the piece of meat, leaving the meat completely untouched.

Thus, the piece of meat would gradually make its way from the top of the bowl all the way to the bottom, and only after receiving his second bowl of rice would he finally make short work of the piece of meat.

Whenever Ning Yao saw this, she would be struck by a sense of amusement.

However, the same didn't apply to Ruan Xiu. Instead, she ate her meals the exact same way that Chen Ping'an did.

At this moment, Chen Ping'an was holding an empty bowl in one hand and his chopsticks in the other, and even as he peered at his surroundings with all his might, visibility was still limited to only roughly 20 to 30 feet.

During these past two days, aside from toiling away at Master Ruan's forge, Chen Ping'an would always set aside three hours to practice standing meditation, two hours during the day, from 11 AM to 1 PM, and four at night, from 9 PM to 1 AM. After following this routine for a while, Chen Ping'an began experimenting with incorporating his walking meditation into his daily duties, but he discovered that doing so resulted in a lack of consistency in his breathing and footsteps, so he immediately gave up on that experiment.

Only during the breaks in his work, when no one was paying any attention to him, did he exercise his Sword Furnace to nurture his own body. For him, it was only a matter of replacing his previous pottery molding visualization practice with the standing meditation practice as stipulated in the Mountain Shaking Guide.

Initially, Ning Yao would occasionally follow him during the two hours of walking meditation in the day, pretending to offer some helpful guidance, but it didn't take long before she gave up on that endeavor.

Chen Ping'an didn't want to draw any attention to himself, so he would always run around half a kilometer away from the forge in the downstream direction of the creek, and only then would he begin practicing his two hours of walking meditation during the day. Overall, that session generally resulted in around five kilometers of walking.

For Chen Ping'an, this was something that he did every single day with no exceptions.

At this moment, Ning Yao was also seated on the edge of the well, and her brows furrowed slightly as she looked up at the dark sky, which appeared as if it had just been covered by a dark cloth.

"Does this have something to do with Mr. Qi?" Chen Ping'an asked in a quiet voice.

Instead of telling him the truth, Ning Yao gave a rather ambiguous response. "Mr. Qi is the master of this small world, so it probably has something to do with him."

"According to Song Jixin and Zhi Gui, Mr. Qi was originally planning to leave the town together with Zhao Yao. Why did he decide against that in the end?" Chen Ping'an asked.

Ning Yao shook her head with a smile as she replied, "The thoughts of a Sage are like a winding mountain range that could extend over vast distances in any direction. I am unable to fathom his thoughts, nor can I be bothered to try."

After that, she thrust her bowl and chopsticks into Chen Ping'an's hands, then stood up and made her way toward the yellow earthen hut that had been assigned solely to her. Ning Yao was rather befuddled about why Master Ruan was treating her so well, and she couldn't help but wonder if he was aware of her identity.

The chances of that were extremely slim. After all, Stalactite Mountain wasn't situated on Eastern Treasured Vial Continent, and it had virtually no connection to the outside world. It was an extremely renowned place, but received very few visitors. Furthermore, even those on Stalactite Mountain were unaware of her identity.

However, given Ning Yao's straightforward personality, she wasn't particularly bothered by this. For whatever reason, Master Ruan was being quite good to her, and she was happy to accept his goodwill.

Chen Ping'an was just about to make his way to the kitchen with the used bowls and chopsticks when he noticed someone approaching from not far away. It was a young man wearing a robe with wide, flapping sleeves, and he had even more of a scholarly air about him than Chen Songfeng. There was an indescribable quality about him that made him resemble Mr. Qi and the kiln supervision official, Master Song, in some ways.

The man had also spotted Chen Ping'an, and he was rather surprised to see the young boy looking back at him. He made his way over to Chen Ping'an, then asked with a warm smile, "I have some business with Master Ruan. Do you know where he is?"

This time, Chen Ping'an didn't try to tell a lie like he did to Cai Jinjian and Fu Nanhua back on Clay Vase Alley. Instead, he gave the man clear directions on where to go.

This was because Ning Yao had told him that Master Ruan was more than capable of fending for himself, and on top of that, Chen Ping'an couldn't sense any sinister intentions from this man.

"Do you need me to take you there?" Chen Ping'an asked in a polite manner.

The young man seemed to be in no hurry to leave, and he replied with a smile, "It's not far away, so I should be fine on my own, but thank you for offering."

Chen Ping'an smiled and nodded in response, then made his way to the kitchen, while the man departed toward a swordsmithing room in the distance.

After returning the bowls and chopsticks, Chen Ping'an noticed that all of the apprentices were gathered in several rooms. Oil lamps had been lit, and the apprentices were all discussing why day had suddenly transitioned into night. Some confidently proclaimed that it was because a mountain god of a certain mountain was passing through the area, causing the water levels in the wells and the creek to fall, drawing the ire of the river god governing the bodies of water.

Thus, a battle between deities was taking place, completely turning the natural order on its head and flipping day and night. However, some were objecting to this story, stating that no mountain god could possibly exist, given that the mountains had all been sealed off by the imperial court. Furthermore, there was no way that such a small creek could be home to a river god.

Chen Ping'an didn't get involved in the discussion. He didn't have anything to do anyway, so he used his outstanding eyesight to make his way to the bottom of the final well on his own before carrying one basket of soil after another out of the well.

One time, as he was climbing up the wooden ladder out of the well, Chen Ping'an just so happened to spot the man returning from the swordsmithing room. The man noticed him as well, but he didn't approach Chen Ping'an, nor did he stop in his tracks. Instead, he merely waved farewell to him from afar.

Chen Ping'an felt a little emotional upon seeing this. Regardless of whether that man was a good person or a bad person, at the very least, he was different from the outsiders from Sun Scorch Mountain, Dawn Cloud Mountain, Light Breeze City, and Old Dragon City.

Chen Ping'an brought out one basket of soil from the well after another, and as he did so, Ruan Xiu arrived near the well winch, holding a handkerchief with a series of delicate pastries placed on top. As Chen Ping'an emerged from the well, Ruan Xiu gestured to the pastries, in response to which Chen Ping'an smiled and shook his head.

After that, Ruan Xiu sat down onto the edge of the well to enjoy the intricate pastries sold in the shop on Dragon Riding Alley. She quickly became immersed in her meal, giving off an aura of bliss and elation.

Meanwhile, Chen Ping'an continued to transport soil out of the well, and after around a dozen trips, Ruan Xiu was already nowhere to be seen, but she had left a piece of pastry for him sitting atop her handkerchief on the edge of the well. It was the most renowned pastry sold in the shop on Dragon Riding Alley, the peach blossom wine cake.

Chen Ping'an faltered slightly upon seeing this, then removed the basket from his back and set it down by his feet. He sat down on the edge of the well near the handkerchief, then rubbed his hands on his clothes before plucking the cake between two of his fingers and placing it into his mouth.

Sure enough, it was delicious, and Chen Ping'an couldn't help but nod in approval as he ate.

This small cake alone was worth 10 copper coins, and that thought immediately made the cake taste even better to Chen Ping'an.

During the following few hours, the sky remained dark, and bursts of dull rumbling would occasionally ring out up above. Aside from that, there was nothing else abnormal happening in the town, and in an unprecedented gesture, Master Ruan dismissed all of the workers at the forge to go home and rest for two days, rather than having them wait until night transitioned back into day to continue working.

Chen Ping'an was dismissed as well, and he returned to the town. He paid a visit to Liu Xianyang's home, and after verifying that nothing was missing, he quickly snuffed out the lights, then locked the door and rushed back to his own house.

For some reason, Chen Ping'an felt like the town had suddenly lost all of its vitality and was a completely dead place.

Unbeknownst to him, as he was rushing over the covered bridge, there was a tall woman in a flowing white robe hovering above the water under the bridge.

Her hair was as white as snow, while her exposed hands and feet looked as if they had been carved out of mutton fat jade.

Her head was cocked to the side, and she was using the water in the creek as a mirror while combing her hands through her hair, but for some reason, it was impossible to make out her facial features.

Chapter end

Chapter 31: Beating Around the Mountain
Chapter 32: Peach Leaf
Chapter 33: White Dragon Disguising as a Fish
Chapter 34: Gathered Together
Chapter 35: Licorice Root
Chapter 36: Ancient Book
Chapter 37: Fist Technique
Chapter 38: Ninth Tier
Chapter 39: Cursing the Locust Tree
Chapter 40: Returning the Courtesy
Chapter 42: Prodigy
Chapter 43: The Young Boy and the Old Dog
Chapter 44: Coming to Light
Chapter 45: Sunlight
Chapter 46: Skirt Dagger
Chapter 47: Going Alone
Chapter 48: The Hunter and the Hunted
Chapter 49: Porcelain Shard
Chapter 50 (1): One Who is Destined for Great Things
Chapter 50 (2): One Who is Destined for Great Things
Chapter 51: Confrontation
Chapter 52: Shudder
Chapter 53: Gift
Chapter 54: Facing the Enemy
Chapter 55: Feeling Proud in the Spring Breeze
Chapter 56: Nodding Bodhisattva
Chapter 57: Sword Nurturing Gourd
Chapter 58: Teacher
Chapter 59: Sleep
Chapter 60: There's a Ghost
Chapter 61: Helpless Pawn
Chapter 62: Falling Tree
Chapter 63 (1): So That's How It Is
Chapter 63 (2): So That's How It Is
Chapter 64: The Three Chens
Chapter 65: Jewel
Chapter 66: Looking Up
Chapter 67 (1): Long Journey
Chapter 67 (2): Long Journey
Chapter 68: Spring Under the Heavens
Chapter 69: Night
Chapter 70: Daylight
Chapter 71 (1): I’ll Like You for a While Longer
Chapter 71 (2): I’ll Like You for a While Longer
Chapter 72: Black Cloud
Chapter 73: Wooden Figure
Chapter 74: The Fire Dragon Roams the Water
Chapter 75: Mountain Selection
Chapter 76: Back to Back
Chapter 77: Entering the Mountains
Chapter 78: Another Dream
Chapter 79: Spring Welcome Seal
Chapter 80: Leaving the Mountains
Chapter 81: Imperial Preceptor
Chapter 82 (1): Master and Student, Senior Brother and Junio
Chapter 82 (2): Master and Student, Senior Brother and Junio
Chapter 83: Dreams
Chapter 84 (1): I Have a Sword
Chapter 84 (2): I Have a Sword
Chapter 85 (1): Conclusion of the Examination
Chapter 85 (2): Conclusion of the Examination
Chapter 86 (1): Walking the Same Path
Chapter 86 (2): Walking the Same Path
Chapter 87 (1): Little Teacher
Chapter 87 (2): Little Teacher
Chapter 88: Grand Entrance
Chapter 89: Two Heads
Chapter 90: Heavy Rain
Chapter 91: Jade Hairpin
Chapter 92 (1): Bamboo Bookcase
Chapter 92 (2): Bamboo Bookcase
Chapter 93 (1): There's a Character on the Wall
Chapter 93 (2): There's a Character on the Wall
Chapter 94: A Feast for the Eyes
Chapter 95: Too Small a Place
Chapter 96: Demons in the Mountains and Rivers
Chapter 97: Bowing to the Mountain
Chapter 98: The Meddlesome Mountain God
Chapter 99: The Mountain God and the Bamboo Saber
Chapter 100 (1): The World Beneath One's Feet
Chapter 100 (2): The World Beneath One's Feet
Chapter 101: Guard the Mountain
Chapter 102: Soaring White Ray
Chapter 103: Bamboo Building
Chapter 104: Sharing the Spoils
Chapter 105: Rootless Duckweed
Chapter 106: People from All Walks of Life
Chapter 107: Fishing Net
Chapter 108: Spring Hunting
Chapter 109: The Young Boy Has Some Words to Say
Chapter 110: All Good Things Must Come to an End
Chapter 111: Bamboo Hat
Chapter 112: Powerful Individual
Chapter 113: Unparalleled Might
Chapter 114: Seeing A'Liang Again
Chapter 115: There's an Old Scholar In the World (1)
Chapter 116: There's an Old Scholar In the World (2)
Chapter 117 (1): There's an Old Scholar In the World (3)
Chapter 117 (2): There's an Old Scholar In the World (3)
Chapter 118 (1): There's Righteousness In The World
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