Ever since Lei Wujie returned to the mountains, a month passed by in a flash.
The entire Snow Moon City had entered its most beautiful season. The flowers in the upper city were in full bloom while the winds in the lower city maintained a pleasant coolness to them. Carried along by the breeze, this floral fragrance added a refreshing note throughout the entire city.
However, while the sights of Snow Moon City were beautiful, the most scenic still had to be Mount Cangshan.
Lei Wujie was, at this moment, seated atop a tree, breathing in deep the fragrance of the flowers as the winds caressed his long hair, every bit a carefree teenager. As he closed his eyes and steeped himself in the scents and winds of his surroundings, his thoughts drifted to his past: his days spent training in the Lei Clan, then his days training in the sword arts with the Snow Moon Sword Immortal -truly carefree days.
Half a month ago, Li Hanyi once asked him, “From how far are you able to smell the flowers?” Lei Wujie answered then, “This entire hillside, give or take. What about you, teacher?” Li Hanyi smiled, answering neither too quickly nor too slowly, “The entire mountain of Cangshan.”
Li Hanyi explained that the reason why a Sword Immortal’s sword strike had such an astonishing pressure to it was because their strikes were in harmony with their own heavenly path. Amongst the Sword Immortals, the Daoist Sword Immortal Zhao Yuzhen, who had guarded Mount Qingcheng for decades without ever leaving, practised a sword art that was in harmony with Qingcheng’s daoist arts, thus his sword was the strongest in Mount Qingcheng.
As for him, the Snow Moon Sword Immortal, his training ground was the mountain, Cangshan. Thus, his path was that of Cangshan’s every blade of grass, every bit of wood, every flower and every drop of water. That was why he was about to stir up an entire mountain of Camellias with just one sword.
Of the five Sword Immortals, the one who most aligned with his path was the Lone Sword Immortal Luo Qingyang. Despite being only one man, he occupies an entire city by himself, thus he monopolised an entire city’s worth of loneliness. It was said that when he swung his sword, those within a hundred paces of him could feel a sense of desolation within themselves and couldn’t help but cry. Yet as long as they were Sword Immortals, they carried the heavenly path within themselves, it was all a matter of time.
However, there were also Sword Immortals who weren’t like that. The Confucian Sword Immortal was one such person; just by burying himself in his books, he entered the Unfettered Heavens Realm.
This was the reason why Lei Wujie had to first align himself with the heavenly path of Mount Cangshan. While all that explanation was lost him, he still dutifully practised the inner cultivation techniques taught to him by Li Hanyi, then proceeded to sit on a tree and take in the sights and sounds of the mountain.
“Someone’s here.” Lei Wujie suddenly opened his eyes.
Like he said, there were two figures rushing up the mountain. Their steps were both swift, but there was one whose pacing was more solid and hefty while the other was like a fleeting wind. Lei Wujie reacted to that, choosing to call out in a clarion voice, “Senior Brother! Third…Brother Xiao!”
The two in question exchanged a look with each other. “How does he know it’s us?” Xiao Se asked with furrowed brows.
Tang Lian, on the other hand, seemed elated, “He must have already entered into the first realm of Second Esteemed Teacher’s Water Impeding Sword Arts. Who would’ve thought that in just this short span of a month, his realm would advance once more… Unlike a certain someone who only seems to get better at running.”
Xiao Se ignored that playful bit of snideness and merely quickened his pace.
By the time the two of them arrived at their destination, they found Lei Wujie leisurely sitting atop his tree branch, right finger curled slightly where a beautiful butterfly quietly rested. Tang Lian laughed, “Looks like our second brother’s been rather free of late.”
Lei Wujie scratched his head at that comment, “My teacher doesn’t want me to practise my sword arts. He just wants me to sit here everyday and smell the flowers. Why don’t you tell me then, exactly what kind of martial arts is this that can be trained in such a leisurely manner?”
“That martial art isn’t as simple as you think it is. Life on Cangshan all have a mind of their own. Not everyone can do what you’re doing now with that butterfly, allowing it to rest on your finger like that without being startled or trying to fly away.” Tang Lian suddenly withdrew his smile, leapt into the air, and soon after, a flash of steel could be seen within his palms -his finger knife had been drawn and was already rushing towards said butterfly, “I want its wings.”
“When did you become so heartless, Senior Brother?” Lei Wujie chuckled, performed a backflip onto the ground, and with a gentle wave of his hands, sent the butterfly on its way.
“Then I’ll have your head instead!”
“Rainfall!” Lei Wujie called out and the sword immediately flew out of its sheath in response.
“You’ve not only learned to draw your sword, you’ve even learned to command it, I see.” Tang Lian stated praisingly.
“Watch carefully, Senior Brother. This is my Moon in Obscurity, Flowers at Daybreak!” Lei Wujie declared, chest puffed out with confidence as he waved his sword at Tang Lian. Yet after a violent gale was summoned, all that could be seen, resting quietly atop his sword, was–
A single petal of Camellia.
Lei Wujie was immediately stunned.
Tang Lian was stunned as well.
Xiao Se, on the other hand, averted his eyes, unable to bear the sight before him.
Tang Lian took a few steps forward, and with a swift flick of his knife, sliced that petal into pieces. “That Moon in Obscurity, Flowers at Daybreak of yours…has it been approved by your teacher?”
Lei Wujie could only wave his hands and awkwardly stow his sword, “Don’t tell him.”
Tang Lian kept his finger knife as well at that point, “Where is our Second Esteemed Teacher?”
“My teacher goes up the mountain every day to practise his sword, other than the few words of advice he leaves me every morning, I basically do not see him at all. However, he does return on time for meals.” Lei Wujie answered.
“Is that your way of griping?” Xiao Se gave him a little kick.
“Not at all, not at all.” Lei Wujie shook his head. “I was just wondering if I should just give up on the sword and just become a chef at this point. That’s right, are you guys here today to see me or my teacher?”
“You. We’re here to tell you about a certain person.” Xiao Se smiled.
“A girl. Her name’s Ye Ruoyi.” Tang Lian was the one answered this time.
“I don’t think I know that name.” Lei Wujie gave it some thought before answering.
“No, you do know her.” Xiao Se had on a mysterious smile as he said that.
“Not only do you know her.”
“She even helped to bandage your wounds.” Tang Lian and Xiao Se both took turns finishing each other’s sentences.
Lei Wujie immediately remembered -it was that green dressed girl he met in Snow Moon City. Ye Ruoyi? A good name that suited her. Lei Wujie blushed a little before scratching his head, “Why tell me about her? It’s not like I asked.”
“Alright, we’re off then.” Xiao Se promptly turned around to leave.
“Fine, fine, tell me, you guys can tell me.” Lei Wujie hurriedly grabbed onto him.
“Ruoyi arrived in Snow Moon City in the same year as me. All the disciples within Snow Moon City know of her. She isn’t a simple figure at all -she’s the one and only daughter of Ye Xiaoying, the Lord Protector General of our empire.”
“A general’s daughter? What is she doing in Snow Moon City then?”
“To recuperate.” Tang Lian answered with deliberate slowness.
The image of a coughing girl suddenly popped into Lei Wujie’s mind then. He had asked her if she was sick, and she had nodded her head. But exactly what kind of sickness required one to come all the way to Snow Moon City to recuperate?
Realising what question Lei Wujie had on his mind, Tang Lian proceeded to explain, “No one knows for sure what kind of sickness she has, but our Third Esteemed Teacher is an unparalleled physician. Even so, after recuperating for so many years, there still hasn’t been any sign of her getting better. It has been said that even the Astrologians from the Ministry of Astrologians for Heavenly Affairs were called in to diagnose her sickness, but to no avail. In all likelihood, this isn’t some simple sickness we are dealing with.”
Lei Wujie frowned but said nothing.
“Alright, that’s enough of that for now. So do you want to know about her?” Xiao Se suddenly cut in.
“Huh?” Lei Wujie was caught off guard for a second.
“Three days from now, the annual Hundred Flowers Banquet will be held. At that point, every disciple within the city will participate. Even the usually reclusive Ye Ruoyi will participate, do you want in?” Tang Lian patted Lei Wujie on the shoulders.
“Hundred Flowers Banquet? Will my teacher be there as well?” Lei Wujie asked.
Tang Lian shook his head. “No matter what, do not tell him. My teacher has specifically stated that if there’s anyone that shouldn’t come, it’s Li Hanyi.”
“Probably because he’s afraid that once your teacher reveals his sword, all the flowers in the banquet would wilt.” Tang Lian answered with a smile.