Records of the Dragon Follower
First Published on Chaleuria
Chapter 18: Sword Conferring
As expected of Eldest Senior Brother, the moment Master said so, he unhooked the sheath from his waist and handed it over.
Master did not feel embarrassed in the least. After receiving it, he looked at it for a moment and praised Eldest Senior Brother, “The sword has been raised quite well.”
Xiaodong couldn’t understand. Swords naturally had to be taken care of properly, but swords were not little cats or dogs, so why use the word ‘raise’?
After looking at the sheath, Master slowly pulled out Eldest Senior Brother’s personal sword from its sheath.
Eldest Senior Brother’s sword was especially light and nimble. Xiaodong felt that the saying ‘the sword is the reflection of its owner’ made a lot of sense. For example, Eldest Senior Brother was thin and tall himself, while the blade of Senior Brother Jiang’s sword was much wider and heavier than a regular sword. Xiaodong had tried holding it once, and he had to hold it with two hands as it felt a little heavy holding with just one.
A long and clear shrill was produced when the sword was removed from its sheath, and the sword trembled incessantly. A layer of foggy white glow could be seen on the blade of the sword. The inscribed swirling patterns looked alive within the glow, swimming randomly around the blade.
Xiaodong’s entire attention was drawn to the sword, and he couldn’t even bear to blink an eye.
This was the first time he had seen this sword removed from its sheath.
When they were heading to sweep his uncle’s tomb the other day, Eldest Senior Brother had him hold onto the sheath as Eldest Senior Brother was afraid that he would slip and fall. Back then, he had merely felt it was just a little uncomfortable. When he got back home and took a look, he realized that there were two red scars on his palm. He didn’t get a good look at the sword’s appearance.
“The sword is pretty good,” Senior Liu was finally willing to say a few more words. He gave Eldest Senior Brother a slight nod and praise, “You have greatly improved since the last time I saw you.”
Eldest Senior Brother arched his body forward. He did not show joy on his face just because of a single word of praise. “Thank you, Senior Liu.”
Master smiled as he swung the sword a little, rather leisurely. A sword energy shot out, and an ice rock not far away was crisply sliced into two pieces. “It’s rather easy to get used to. Come, come, raise your sword. It’s been many years since I last saw your sword.”
Senior Liu slowly removed the sword case behind him, and then opened it.
This time, both Master and Eldest Senior Brother were surprised.
The sword case was actually empty inside. There wasn’t anything stored within.
Master curiously asked, “Where’s your sword?”
Senior Liu had been called “Obsessive Sword” in the past. Other than swords, he didn’t pay much mind to anything else. It felt as if his personal sword was more important than his own life, and he wouldn’t let it go even in his sleep. When he came, Master saw that he was carrying a sword case on his back, so he naturally thought that the sword was inside the case. Who would have thought the case would actually be empty?
“I put it away it in a certain place.”
Master was even more confused. “Why?”
Master found it incredible that his sword was out of his reach, but what puzzled him even more, was why he was still carrying a sword case on his back when his sword was not next to him?
Xiaodong felt that this conferring of swords… was beginning to feel like child’s play?
Master did not bring his sword, while Senior Liu decided to bring along an empty case.
Xiaodong wondered just what thoughts seniors and experts had. Could it be that after becoming an expert, he had to have a strange temper that was different from the common masses?
“To make that sword, I searched for the materials and slowly constructed it on my own. You can say that there isn’t a single spot about that sword that I’m not familiar with. Even if I close my eyes, I could clearly visualize the appearance of the sword. If the sword were to leave my body, I would even be able to sense where it was. The intimacy between me and my sword is hard to distinguish.”
“I know that. Everyone in the world knows that,” Master asked, “Then what’s going on with you?”
“Nothing much. Many years ago, I once had a conferring of swords with someone… That person had the surname ‘Zhou’. You can most likely remember him vaguely too.”
“‘Zhou’? No, I’m afraid I don’t recognize him, though I did hear of him before.”
“When I met him, his eyes were close to losing their sight, his body was paralyzed and could hardly move, and he couldn’t speak clearly either.”
Xiaodong felt as if he was listening to a book of legends.
How could a paralyzed person who couldn’t even speak confer about swords?
“What happened then?”
Senior Liu crisply said, “I lost.”
Xiaodong found it even harder to understand. Just how did Senior Liu lose to a blind, paralyzed person who could barely speak?
“I’ve heard of Brother Zhou’s circumstances as well. Though he had failed, he points his successors to a path that no one else has walked before.” An idea crossed Master’s mind as he said this, and then he looked at Senior Liu. “You too?”
“That’s right. After that conferring of swords, I pondered. The path that he walked on was right, but he treaded it in a fumbling manner with no clear direction… He suggested that I try sealing my sword, and when the day comes when I feel that I no longer need it, when it feels like it doesn’t matter if I hold a sword or not, I will then retrieve it. When that time comes, I can probably gain more insights than he did.”
Master looked a little sorrowful hearing those words, while Eldest Senior Brother seemed like he was in deep thought as well. Xiaodong was the only one who couldn’t understand it at all.
This conferring of swords seemed to be completely different from how he imagined it to be.
In the past, Xiaodong thought that the conferring of swords would be a martial arts match, to see whose moves were more sophisticated and whose martial strength was more profound… In any case, it’s to see who came out on top.
However, Master and Senior Liu was truly conferring with one another. Discussing was still conferring, after all.
The principles within their discussion were something that Xiaodong, as someone who had just been apprenticed to Master, couldn’t understand. However, it seemed like Eldest Senior Brother was able to comprehend quite a bit.
It was no wonder Master only allowed Eldest Senior Brother to tag along. Even if others could come, they definitely wouldn’t understand their conversation. It would just be a wasted trip.
Master and Senior Liu talked for a bit more. The two did not have the intentions to fight at all, though they did have Eldest Senior Brother demonstrate a set of sword techniques.
This set of sword techniques was naturally not the Rudimentary Sword Techniques Xiaodong learnt. He usually did not see Eldest Senior Brother display it either. On Sword Conferring Peak that was covered in deep ice and snow, sword energy swirled in all directions. The dazzling light emitted looked like an eagle spreading its wings as sword afterimages connected into one. Xiaodong could not clearly see where the sword or the wielder was.
During usual practice, Eldest Senior Brother was not like this at all.
Xiaodong’s eyes began to spin as he watched, and he even forgot to close his wide-opened mouth.
Eldest Senior Brother was actually this incredible…
The sect’s sword techniques were actually this incredible…
He wondered just when he would be able to reach Eldest Senior Brother’s level of martial arts.
Xiaodong recalled that Master had once said Eldest Senior Brother’s sword techniques were still at the first threshold of the door. If he was still at the first threshold when he was already this amazing, Xiaodong wondered just how he would look like stepping into the hall and completely mastering the techniques.
Master and Senior Liu conversed a little and then sat down on the stone chairs at the side for a short rest. Senior Liu called Eldest Senior Brother over and seriously gave him pointers on some essential aspects of his sword techniques. Eldest Senior Brother earnestly listened.
Senior Liu was clearly very satisfied with him. “You’re very good.”
With Eldest Senior Brother being praised, Master felt proud as well and said with a smile, “It’s hard to find someone with a temperament like this. Sometimes, talent is far from being as important as temperament. There are many times where talents have been buried along with bad temperaments. With a good temperament, one can then walk even further on this path.”
“That’s right. When we were youths, we had yet to be as calm and open-minded as he is. Back then, it felt like as long as I have a sword in hand, I can go anywhere, even piercing a hole into the sky might not be impossible.”
Master glanced at him. “As the saying goes, the older one becomes, the less guts he would have. Even now, you still possess the sharpness and mind of the past. As for me, my aspirations have already been worn down. Right now, I’m satisfied teaching and bringing up a few disciples.”
“I should be the one envying you for having successors.”
Speaking of successors, Master could not help but ask, “Are you really planning on searching for a successor? However, looking at the three that you brought along, none of them seem to be suitable fledgelings.”
“If they want to tag along, then so be it.” Senior Liu was unwilling to continue on this line of conversation. “Successor… Even now I’m still confused, so how am I supposed to teach a disciple? Wouldn’t I be mis-guiding a child then? I will most likely not have a successor in my lifetime.”
It seemed like Senior Liu indeed did not see potential in the three juniors that he brought along, huh. As expected, Senior Brother Jiang was right.
They continued to talk about sword techniques and heart cultivation mantras. Xiaodong couldn’t understand them that much, and in just a few moments, he went into a daze.
Eldest Senior Brother was standing at the side, but he listened in very attentively. It began to snow again. White layers of snow accumulated on his hair and shoulders. Even his brows and eyelashes were dusted with bits of snow.
Eldest Senior Brother’s brows were rich and beautiful, as if someone had carefully drawn them on a paper with ink.
Xiaodong watched Eldest Senior Brother’s quiet appearance, and slowly, he went into a daze again.
Eldest Senior Brother’s eyelashes were so long… They were even longer than a girl’s. Bits of snow were settled on his eyelashes. The contrast between black and white clearly expressed how clear and clean his eyes were.
Xiaodong could not help but raise his hand, wanting to rub away the bits of snow for Eldest Senior Brother.
The moment he thought of this in his heart, this icy snow dreamscape quickly closed. The surroundings before his eyes swirled around, and the moment Xiaodong moved his limbs, he woke up in his own room.
The room was warm and fuzzy, and the sun had yet to rise outside. The candle next to his bed had not burned out completely just yet. Grasping the light, Xiaodong held onto his blanket as he got up.
Everything was completely clear in his dream, as if it had actually happened. For a moment, he could not distinguish what was real between now and then.
Xiaodong rubbed his face strongly so that he could sober up.
Right now, he really wanted to talk to someone.
However, the person that he wanted to meet the most was still at the top of Sword Conferring Peak.
Starting from a long time ago, he would frequently have dreams. Sometimes, he would be familiar with the people and incidents that were in the dream, while sometimes, they would be completely foreign to him.
When he was younger and still immature, he could not understand the things he saw and heard in his dreams, nor could he remember them. Even if he wanted to talk about them, they would be in bits and pieces and he couldn’t relay the message across.
However, ever since he came to Returnflow Mountain, the dreams began to grow clearer. To be more exact, it started on the day he had that high fever and Eldest Senior Brother returned.
They were clear to the point that they did not feel like dreams.
If they were just dreams, then how was Senior Brother Jiang able to find his oil box?
However, if they were not dreams, what were they?
His uncle was not here anymore, and he did not have any other relatives either. There wasn’t a relative or senior that he could ask for an answer.
Just what was going on? Just what were these things that he was seeing in his dreams?
Xiaodong beat his own head in frustration.
Though, it seemed like the current situation was doing him no harm. It even let him see what he wanted to see…
Oh right, the things he saw seemed to have always been things that he desperately wanted to see.
Back then, he saw his senior brothers and senior sister practice martial arts, while this time, he saw the scene where Master and Senior Liu were on Sword Conferring Peak.