"I’ll Leave ‘Devoted Cause’ in Your Care."

The forces of the Central Plains led by the Tengyun Pavilion quickly retreated to the settlement outside of the Evil Sect as they looked at Bamboo Garden Island as it burnt into a sea of fire from a distance.

In order to prevent the fire from spreading through the suspension bridge, the remaining petal retainers and Lotus Hall’s servants quickly cut off all the suspension bridges connected to the island, leaving the island alone in the lake as the fire illuminated the canyon where the Sanctuary resided, brightening the surrounding as if it was the day.

The water reflected the fiery light, which reflected in Gu Ruohai’s eyes.

After a long silence, he said, “The Sword Sage’s inheritance was buried in the sea of fire with the Leader of the Evil Sect. I didn’t manage to get it. I don’t deserve the trust placed by everyone.”

The Village of Mount Qianfeng and the Xuanji Temple had already been informed of this development. Even the members of the Tongyun Monastery that were left in the dark didn’t have a good way to criticise the Wulin Alliance Leader. After all, the box in the Evil Sect’s Leader’s hand fell into the fire. Many people witnessed it. They could only mutter a few ambiguous words in this situation. 

The Wujiang Sect was obviously more concerned about this than the Tengyun Pavilion. They suggested searching the island for the Sect Leader’s corpse once the fire died down.

“I don’t know how long the fire will burn for, and there are still remnants of the Evil Sect here...We didn’t bring enough elite fighters. If we continue the scuffle, I fear the casualties will only increase.” The leader of the Xuanji Temple interposed at the right time. “Furthermore, we should also consider the food and materials needed for the return trip. The Phantom City is not a suitable place for a long stay.”

The Wujiang Sect members exchanged looks and huddled together to discuss in low voices for a moment. Finally, they couldn’t propose any good solution.

Gu Ruohai quickly led his pavilion and the Village of Mount Qianfeng to retreat. The Xuanji Temple and the Hongyun Monastery followed them. There was no reason for the Wujiang Sect to stay as they also followed the others out of the Sanctuary and back to Phantom City.

Once the eastern sky turned light, the forces that stepped deep into the Sanctuary finally walked out of the Phantom City safely and joined the garrison left there.

Learning that the Tengyun Pavilion didn’t obtain the Sword Sage’s inheritance, many fighters from the smaller sects showed their dissatisfaction. Obviously, they had more malicious speculation and doubts about the‌ result. 

Fan Xi searched for Pu Lingyun and found her standing next to Gu Ruohai, returning safe and sound. He could finally feel at ease, feeling the nervous tension melt to nothingness. 

Hearing the whispers of the surrounding mobs, he narrowed his eyes and turned to Gu Ruohai with his arms crossed and mocked, “Alliance Leader, you went too far. We didn’t witness the scene, how do we know whether the fire in your story was true or not. We also don’t know...whether the Sword Sage’s inheritance was burned or divided among the larger force.”

Pu Lingyun glared at the man and snapped, “You coward. You didn’t have the courage to step into the Phantom City, and now you dare to throw meaningless accusations!”

Yet, Gu Ruohai explained himself, “No matter. Even if the Sword Sage's inheritance in the hand of the Evil Sect is gone, there’s still a copy with the E’Luo Gui Faction.”

As soon as this came to light, there was an uproar from all corners.

The first group who doubted this was, of course, the members of the Wujiang Sect. “Where did the Alliance Leader Gu learn such news? We from the Wujiang Sect heard nothing—”

Gu Ruohai said with a smile, “From the Evil Sect’s Leader. He once ambushed our forces along with the faction. It was natural that they were working together in private. If there was no benefit from this partnership, why would they cooperate in secret?” 

The doubting Wujiang Sect members were tongue-tied by this very logical question.

Gu Ruohai chuckled and continued, “The Evil Sect must have used the Sword Sage’s inheritance in exchange for their partnership with the E’Luo Gui Faction. Therefore, another copy is still preserved in the faction. If you still want the inheritance, I, as the Pavilion Lord of the Tengyun Pavilion, will also continue to lead everyone deep into the ice field and fight against the E’Luo Gui Faction.”

Hearing this declaration, the leader of the Xuanji Temple recommended, “The Faction is different from the Evil Sect. They are outside the county’s regime and their entire nation is armed. With only the forces we have right now, I don’t think we can defeat them.”

Gu Ruohai said, “I won’t consider this as urgent...For now, we return to the border of the Central Plains and regroup. We’ll discuss this again, maybe we need to increase the number of our elite fighters.”

Then he glanced at Fan Xi, turned to his team and said, “Prepare to head back.”

The Tengyun Pavilion and the Village of Mount Qianfeng left. The Xuanji Temple and the Tongyun Monastery followed soon after. Seeing the allied forces were about to scatter in different directions, Fan Xi ‘extremely unwillingly’ followed in the direction of the larger major forces with his Sect. All the remaining small sects naturally did the same, as they did not dare to stay alone in the wasteland.

Faced with this, the members of the Wujiang Sect gathered together again to discuss in a whisper for a moment. They sent out one member in secret and the rest of the members went after the group.

* * *

Su Yang and Gu Feidi followed Su Huaizhu down the secret path in the Forbidden Ground. They crossed the canyon and the lake, and arrived at a naturally formed underground river cave. Then they went along the cave until they reached a narrow qanat(In the Middle East) a gently sloping underground channel or tunnel constructed to lead water from the interior of a hill to a village below. entrance.

“From the outside, the wasteland looked to have very little water. But beneath, there is an underground water system extending in all directions. There are many river channels and no small amount of qanats scattered, which is perfect for us to disperse.”

As Su Huaizhu shared this, he took out a bone whistle the length of a knuckle that he received from Feng Lin and handed it to the two juniors. “This is the E’Luo Gui Harrowing Spector Faction’s bone whistle. It had been modified by the shaman who escaped to our Divine Sect. The sound can’t be detected by human ears, but it could be used to drive away the boreal owls.”

Su Yang accepted the bone whistle and asked, “Is this where we go our separate ways?”

Su Huaizhu nodded. “The target of this infiltration is the E’Luo Gui Faction. Rather than thinking of them as forces in the Jianghu, it is better to label them as forces outside the county’s regime. They have squads patrolling and scouting the area. They also have ordinary common herdsman settlements...It’s easier to move about undetected when scattering, and there is no need to worry about being strung together at once.”

Su Yang nodded and put away the bone whistle. 

“Yesterday was the winter solstice. During the Lesser Cold小寒, one of the Twenty-Four Solar Terms (this being the 23rd) that represents the welcoming of the coldest days of the years. This falls between January 5 and 7 of the Gregorian calendar., the Central Plains Wulin will pin down the faction’s forces in the south. There might be snowfall during this period, but once the snow becomes heavy, it will be an opportunity for us to strike.”

Su Huaizhu pondered for a moment and said, “We need to find a way to survive in the harsh ice field for half a month...After that period, the Phoenix Jade might lose its effectiveness. Therefore, your goal is to get to the White Shaman Pillar. Gu Feidi, you should try your best to get the White Flame Gu before the Phoenix Jade loses its purpose.”

The schedule was so tight that there was hardly any room for error. Gu Feidi couldn’t resist the urge to feel nervous. He took a deep calming breath and nodded. “Consider it done.”

He didn’t say he would try his best. It was a matter of life and death for Su Yang. He couldn’t say he would strive his hardest to complete the task. This was a task that he had to complete, by any means.

Su Huaizhu saw the determination in his eyes, he nodded slightly and added, “The ice field is barren, even more so during winter. You two please be careful.”

Then he motioned for Mei Shisan to bring two bags and handed them to the duo. He said towards Su Yang, “You ordered the kitchen to cook a type of food before. I examined it and found it was very suitable for replenishment. In addition, if you go deep into the ice field, monotone clothes and head cover are perfect for hiding. These robes were originally prepared for the petal retainers, it might not fit well, but it’ll do for its purpose.”

After receiving the bag, which was obviously prepared almost at the last moment. Gu Feidi lowered his gaze and raised his hand to salute. “This one is very grateful to the senior.”

“If you accidentally meet a scout or fighter of the faction in the ice field...Remember, leave no witnesses alive.” Su Huaizhu advised. He turned to Su Yang and emphasised, “Don’t be softhearted and don’t hesitate. You have to understand that this is a battlefield. If they don’t die, you...and the people you cherish the most will die.”

Su Yang bit his lower lip, firmly met Su Huaizhu’s eyes and nodded firmly.

Su Huaizhu’s gaze travelled between the two, then it stopped at the sword by Gu Feidi’s waist—Cherished Heart.

A moment later, he handed the thin sword in his hand to Su Yang. “I’ll leave D君故 or ‘Jun Gu’. I picked ‘because of you’ or ‘you are the reason’ (但为君故 沉吟至今) as my base to this sword’s translation. At first, Gu Feidi’s sword was translated as ‘Devoted Heart’, but I couldn’t come up with a beautiful translation for Su Yang’s sword to match, that’s why I changed Gu Feidi’s sword to ‘Cherished Heart’ and gave the ‘Devoted’ to Su Yang which became the ‘Devoted Cause’.evoted Cause in your care.”

Su Yang was shocked and accepted the thin sword that was in Su Huaizhu’s hands. He didn’t know what emotion he should show.

He came to his senses when Gu Feidi whispered to call his attention. He untied the nameless thin sword on his waist and exchanged it with Su Huaizhu.

Su Huaizhu took the sword, his eyes stopped at the two again for a moment and solemnly said, “Take good care of each other.”

With that, without waiting for the two to answer, he turned and walked further into the underground river towards another qanat.

With the faint dawn coming in from the wellhead, Su Yang looked at the glittering white Devoted Cause in his hand. He kept feeling that the senior’s decision in giving him the sword was very odd.

The Leader of the Evil Sect knew that he was not the original Young Master. Judging from the tone too, the senior didn’t plan to pass the Evil Sect down to him, and there wasn’t the feeling of entrusting the sword as a dying wish. Then why would the Leader give this sword to him?

Gu Feidi also studied the thin sword in Su Yang’s hand. His eyes landed on the name of the sword, which was carved at the bottom of the sword handle.

“This is…” He frowned slightly. Stretching out his hand to take the thin sword, staring at the two words on the handle and whispering, “...This is my father’s handwriting.”

Su Yang was surprised, “What?”

Instead of answering, Gu Feidi quickly pulled out Cherished Heart around his waist and looked at the name of the blade, also engraved at the bottom of the sword handle.

The handwriting was clear, meaningful and beautiful, but there was a faint trace of sharp aura in the hook and the corner of each letter where the word changed angle. He didn’t notice at first before, but now with both swords side by side. These little details gave birth to a very absurd thought—

It was said that the two elders were very sincere in their relationship. But...to what degree? They had already turned their blade against each other, but why did the senior still keep the engraved sword with him and...regarded and passed it on as an inheritance?

“What’s wrong with the letters?” Su Yang was in the dark, so he asked his smarter half. “Is there a problem?”

Gu Feidi handed Devoted Cause back to Su Yang and said, “No, there’s nothing wrong. When they were young, they had a close relationship in their time inside the House of Jade. Maybe they engraved words on each other’s sword then.”

Su Yang didn’t dwell on it. He muttered an “Oh” and looked up at the entrance of the wellhead ahead. He suggested, “Can we head out now? I think the sun is about to come out.”

Gu Feidi nodded. “Then let’s head out…”

They changed into the white outer coat in the bag, covered their dark hair in the cloth head covering and covered their faces. Then they climbed through the crack through an orderly wall and wriggled their way out of the underground qanat.

They came out to a corner in the wasteland, surrounded by many boulders, and the outline of the Phantom City could be seen from a distance. The eastern sky began to show the golden light of the rising sun, and the centre of the sky was cloudless and dyed with an ashen blue.

“Our journey will be more tiring without horses.” Gu Feidi grabbed Su Yang’s hand. “Do you think you can handle it?”

Su Yang laughed and raised his chin. “I was weak before because of the Poisonous Gu and the Apparition. But now with the Phoenix Jade given from Shizun...I’m no longer the weak me, so of course, that’s not a problem for me! Hey! Just because I was...you know...by you...doesn’t mean you should treat me like a lady! You better watch your back for the day I rebel! You might not be able to suppress me…”

Gu Feidi only smiled brightly at his statement and didn’t refute it.

They stepped on the vast wasteland hand in hand and walked towards the north border that was icebound all year round.

As the sun rose, a soft sunlight shone on the two, extending their overlapping shadow side by side for a very long time.


Translator's Corner

Translator has something to add:

Teo: This is where I decided to translate ‘martial arts community/ circle/ fighter force’ to simple ‘Wulin’. 


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