Martial Cultivator

Chapter 451: Choose a Green Bamboo

Chapter 451: Choose a Green Bamboo

When Xiao Hezheng's name was mentioned, there might not be anyone who knew. However, when the title "Northern Frontier Great General" was brought up, even the most reclusive cultivators would likely have heard of him. This was one of the top three martial artists in the Great Liang Dynasty, a supremely powerful martial artist with a great reputation.

The gatekeeping disciples seemed to feel the weight of those words. After a moment of silence, one of them cupped his hands and said, "Please wait a moment, Fellow Daoist."

Chen Chao nodded, his expression calm.

While Chen Chao waited at the mountain gate, Lin Xian had already arrived, panting heavily. The young sword cultivator placed a hand on Chen Chao's shoulder and said, "You... this guy... really deserves..."

Before finishing his sentence, Lin Xian stood up straight. His blue and white robe was now full of holes. One could imagine the hardships he had suffered while climbing the mountain.

But soon, he noticed that Chen Chao was standing in front of the mountain gate without being allowed in, Lin Xian said gleefully, "See, I told you, even if you made it to the gate, it doesn't mean you'll be allowed in!"

Chen Chao could not be bothered with him and simply glanced at him before smiling and saying, "Remember to change your clothes."

Lin Xian straightened his body and snorted coldly, then introduced himself to the gatekeeping disciples, "Lin Xian from Jade Summit Mountain, here to seek a sword."

Of course, he did not forget to hand over his letter of introduction.

The gatekeeping disciples had clearly been informed beforehand. So after nodding, one of them stepped forward to lead this young sword cultivator who was already quite renowned in the foreign lands into the mountain. If Chen Chao had been paying attention to recent events in the foreign lands, he would have known about Lin Xian's achievements on the Latent Dragon List.

But although he entered the list, he was naturally ranked behind him.

Lin Xian followed the disciple into the mountain gate, but quickly turned back to look at Chen Chao, smiling as he said, "Once I'm inside, I'll put in a good word for you. Maybe they'll let you in."

Chen Chao did not want to respond to this person.

But soon, the gatekeeping disciples were suddenly taken aback as a figure appeared not far from the mountain gate. "We pay respects, Mountain Lord!"

Lin Xian who had not walked far turned around just in time to see the rarely-seen Mountain Lord of Sword Qi Mountain, Yang Furen, appear at the gate. It looked like he came specially to meet Chen Chao. Lin Xian shook his head, repeatedly telling himself, "This can't be real, this can't be real!"

At the gate, the gatekeeping disciples had already retreated. The white-haired Yang Furen sized up this young martial artist. After a moment of silence, he said with vicissitudes of emotion, "It's been many years since I last saw Brother Xiao. I always thought there would be plenty of time, that one day we'd surely have the chance to drink together again. But now, we're separated by life and death."

While Yang Furen was observing Chen Chao, Chen Chao was also observing this Sword Qi Mountain Lord, who, despite his peculiar name, seemed no different from an ordinary old man. Hearing Yang Furen speak, Chen Chao replied softly, "The Great General has returned home with honor, fulfilling his life's wish."

Yang Furen smiled and said calmly, "That was indeed his temperament. He asked for nothing more in life, and his final wish was simply to die in his hometown, to return to his roots."

Chen Chao said nothing more and handed over the letter he was holding.

Yang Furen accepted the letter but did not open it. Instead, he tucked it into his robe and said, "This old man already knows your purpose for coming. But do you understand the troubles it entails?"

Chen Chao nodded. As a martial artist, as a military official of the Great Liang Dynasty, not using a flying sword, each of these points entailed trouble. This was not normal for Sword Qi Mountain.

"Let's head up the mountain first."

Although Yang Furen knew the situation was tricky too, he had no intention of rejecting Chen Chao outright. Aside from the potential criticism he would face if news got out, just considering his relationship with Xiao Hezheng made such a move impossible. Chen Chao followed behind quietly, maintaining a step behind.

"You just arrived on the mountain and already provoked someone on the mountain. What were you thinking? When you go out to handle matters and seek help from others, how can you still have such a temper?"

As they ascended the mountain together, Yang Furen spoke calmly, devoid of any emotional fluctuations, as if it were just a casual question.

Chen Chao replied softly, "I had intended to have a pleasant attitude. It's just that the senior was a bit overbearing, and this junior couldn't suppress my temper for a moment. It was indeed inappropriate and caused trouble for Mountain Lord."

Facing that swordsmith whose identity was unknown, Chen Chao could afford to disregard him. But in front of this Sword Qi Mountain Lord, he naturally had to show the proper attitude.

"There's no need for that. The fact that Xiao Hezheng is willing to take the initiative and lower his head to write a letter to this old man speaks volumes. Many things can be inferred from that. Most of you martial artists have similar temperaments: unwilling to lower your heads. According to that old man, life is all about pride. Once you lose it, whether you're alive or dead doesn't make much of a difference. I used to scoff at it, but as I've grown older over the years, I've pondered over that statement. I now find it somewhat interesting. That old man stood tall his whole life, keeping his back straight. It may look easy, but it's actually quite difficult."

Yang Furen did not know if it was because he was reminded of many past events due to his friend's passing, but he became extremely emotional. "The year I first met him, that guy mocked me for only forging swords for the sword cultivators of the world. How many sword cultivators who received swords have ever ventured to the North? It's better to forge a few more sabers, it can at least chop off a dew demon heads. This old man argued back, saying that sword cultivators are unrivaled in killing power and are the epitome of elegance. Besides, the Sword Qi Mountain where this old man is from has been forging swords for generations. Why would we forge any sabers?" "In the end, guess how that old man responded?"

Chen Chao smiled and asked, "What did the Great General say?"

Yang Furen replied with a cold face, "He said he was wasting his breath talking to me."

Chen Chao suppressed a laugh, not expecting the Great General to have been so... 'hotblooded' in his youth.

Yang Furen asked, "Do you think the same too?"

Chen Chao did not speak. This was a difficult question to answer.

Fortunately, Yang Furen did not dwell on it and just waved his hand, saying, "This old man won't hold it against a junior like you."

As the two continued to ascend along the mountain path, thick bamboo forests flanked their sides. However, these bamboo were different from the rest in the world; they stood taller and had longer segments between joints. Chen Chao sized them up with curiosity, vaguely guessing that these bamboo were specially used for scabbards. It seemed that everything on Sword Qi Mountain was closely related to flying swords.

Yang Furen seemed to sense what Chen Chao was thinking and said, "These green bamboo are used to make sword sheaths. They don't burn easily, are difficult to be cut by blades, and can also nurture flying swords. However, the forging process is too complicated. Many sword cultivators plead earnestly for these sword sheaths. Why do you think people are like this?"

Chen Chao did not speak.

Yang Furen said calmly, "Pick a piece of green bamboo."

Chen Chao hesitated for a moment, then smiled bitterly, "This junior is just a martial artist, I'm completely ignorant about flying swords. I'm afraid I won't pick a good one."

Yang Furen just replied, "This old man will be waiting for you in the pavilion ahead. When you've chosen, cut it down." Then Yang Furen went up the ladder and walked towards the pavilion on the mountainside. Chen Chao stood on the spot for a moment, then bit the bullet and entered the bamboo forest. He carefully examined the green bamboo. Before ascending Sword Qi Mountain, Chen Chao had actually researched some information about it and knew quite a bit, but there was no mention of these green bamboo in the records. Now that Yang Furen asked Chen Chao to select the green bamboo, he must have had his reasons. However, for a martial artist like Chen Chao to carefully select and examine them, it was not just a matter of using ordinary eyes. This made Chen Chao feel quite helpless. With only a little knowledge about flying swords, he could only look at the green bamboo in silence.

Reaching his hand out, Chen Chao casually tapped on a nearby green bamboo. Suddenly, he heard a sound coming from inside the bamboo, like the flowing of water.

Raising an eyebrow, Chen Chao picked another bamboo. This time, the sound was different; resembling the melodious sound of a zither, but extremely ethereal. He switched several times, discovering that each green bamboo produced a different sound when tapped. Some sounded like war drums, vast and distant. Some were like cicada songs, signaling the arrival of early summer. Some were like the chirping of insects on a summer night, momentarily taking Chen Chao back to the days by the Wei River.

Each green bamboo seemed like a different person; with its own unique personality and characteristics.

Chen Chao was momentarily immersed in these sounds, unconsciously walking dozens of feet and listening to countless sounds. Finally, he stood before a green bamboo that was neither large nor small. Chen Chao lightly tapped it, but this time, there was no sound. It was just a dull thud, like an ordinary piece of green stone; incredibly hard.

Chen Chao carefully examined the green bamboo. Indeed, there was nothing special about it. He still did not know whether he should choose the one with the most unique sound or one that looked extraordinary.

However, Chen Chao did not hesitate for too long. In the end, he decisively drew his saber and cut down this green bamboo.

After the green bamboo fell, Chen Chao suddenly realized that it weighed more than a thousand pounds. He hoisted it onto his shoulders and then headed towards the pavilion.

Yang Furen glanced at Chen Chao and asked a question, “Why did you choose it?”

Chen Chao thought for a moment and answered frankly, “Each green bamboo produces a different sound. This junior didn't know how to choose, but this one made no sound and seemed very hard.”

Yang Furen seemed somewhat surprised by Chen Chao's simple and direct answer. He smiled and said, “Do you know that if this green bamboo is used to make sword sheaths, forget about nurturing flying swords, the flying sword's spiritual energy will dissipate before long. This green bamboo is like a big pocket, tightly binding the flying sword, making it hard to breathe. Do you think such a sword sheath is good?”

Chen Chao smiled bitterly and said, "This junior really doesn't know a thing."

"When those mediocre swordsmiths forge sword sheaths, they only think about how to keep the sword qi inside the sheath. But a truly good sword sheath should be able to contain the sword qi without completely hiding it. The sword intent and the essence of the sword master constantly circulating, nurturing the flying sword effectively. Anyway, these are all matters concerning sword forging. I suppose you're not too interested in them."

Yang Furen sighed.

Chen Chao smiled and said, "What senior said actually applies to life as well. Being flexible and adaptable is the right path."

Yang Furen nodded, acknowledging this consideration.

Chen Chao said softly, "I've still let down Mountain Lord's sincere efforts."

However, Yang Furen shook his head.

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