Records of the Dragon Follower
First Published on Chaleuria
Chapter 26: Absentminded
When he was not holding a sword, Jiang Fan would not stand out. He did not even look as tall as Linglong. Given how chubby he was, it was hard to see him as a tall figure. If he was not wearing the Daoist robe unique to Returnflow Mountain, and was instead wearing a silk robe, he really fit the role of a young master of a rich family.
he moment he held his sword, however, never mind that he felt like a different person… he even looked entirely different.
The sword looked so fitting in Jiang Fan’s hand. If a skinny person like Xiaodong had instead wielded a heavy sword like that, even if he could raise it, would he be able to swing it? Even if he could swing it, he might have to put in so much force to swing the sword that he himself would be swung away instead…
Now that he thought about it, what did Eldest Senior Brother’s sword look like? Xiaodong recalled that it was blue. There were patterns engraved on the blade surface, and the blade itself was definitely a little narrow. Compared to Senior Brother Jiang’s sword, it was definitely narrower, though their lengths were about the same. There wasn’t much logic behind it, but Xiaodong still stubbornly felt that Eldest Senior Brother’s sword was more beautiful.
No matter if he was biased or not, right now, Xiaodong was sure that all his senior siblings’ personal swords were their most suitable swords.
A few people after Senior Brother Jiang, Chen Jingzhi went up.
Presently, Xiaodong was a little absentminded. He did not really watch the martial arts displayed by the others. He faintly sensed that he had made contact with something really important, but he could neither see it clearly, nor grasp hold of it.
Before his eyes, there were several illusory images flashing about in an haphazard manner.
At one time it was Eldest Senior Brother’s all-encompassing lightning-like sword light, and another time it was Senior Brother Jiang’s seemingly plain moves.
Then, what should his own sword look like?
Xiaodong lowered his head and looked at the sword he had. It was just a regular light sword which the outer sect disciples used as well. As Xiaodong had just been admitted into the sect recently and had no foundation whatsoever, Master naturally would not give a disciple like that a named or treasured sword to fiddle around with. Even if Master were to give him one, Xiaodong wouldn’t dare to use it.
Though he did not know what sword suited him, it definitely would not be a sword like this.
Xiaodong finally regained his senses when Jiang Fan was left with no choice but to nudge his hand.
He felt like he had only drifted off for a short while. At the very most, it would have been equal to the amount of time taken to enjoy a cup of tea. When he raised his head, however, he found out that everyone had gone up and he was the only one left… oh, he was not the last one, as Eldest Senior Brother was still behind him. Just like in all drama pieces, the finales were the highlights of the shows. They would sing out either their most heartbreaking songs, or their most captivating songs. If, however, the fireworks were to fizzle out instead of making loud bangs, then everyone would definitely feel irritated.
Did his mind really drift off for so long?
Xiaodong felt that at the very most, he had just drifted off for… about an incense worth of time?
Just what kind of sword techniques did these people display? Why were they so fast?
Even Senior Sister Linglong and Senior Brother Chen had gone up already. Xiaodong walked up the demonstration platform a little absentmindedly.
Something felt off. Did he perhaps doze off without realizing it? How did he completely miss out on his senior siblings’ displays? He didn’t even have the slightest bit of an impression of them.
Li Fulin saw his little disciple’s doubtful look, as if he hadn’t woken up yet.
Liu Hengmao closed his eyes right away. In any case, he had already seen enough from the displays before this. This little one had just been admitted less than a year ago, and he did not have much talent or comprehensive ability with sword techniques. Watching the little one would just make it difficult for himself.
Xiaodong’s expression had made Jiang Fan and Linglong rather worried in their hearts.
Could it be that Little Junior Brother was frightened by the large event and crowd today? To the point he became so defenseless and absentminded?
He better not! It would have been fine if he had stage fright for any other occasion, but definitely not now! It was not because Master would deny a disciple’s hard work because of stage fright, rather, an official test like this was not even an annual affair on Returnflow Mountain. It was a very important event. To put it bluntly, if Eldest Senior Brother were to embarrass himself during such an event, the next day, people would start to talk behind his back. Not only would Eldest Senior Brother’s reputation go down the drain, it would be hard for him to convince others in the future too.
It was the same for Xiaodong as well. He was an orphan entrusted to Master by Master’s old friend. Based on his age alone, he was already unsuitable. Some were apprenticed at a very young age, and Xiaodong was a little older than the expected age range. On the other hand, some were apprenticed to masters based on their skills. However, Xiaodong would be too young for this category, and not to mention, he did not have any martial arts background in the past either.
The outer sect disciples felt that he was nothing more than someone whom Master was forced to take in because of a dead person’s wish. To them, there wasn’t anyone among them who was worse than him.
In the past when Chen Jingzhi had just arrived, he too received a little discrimination, both openly and in the dark. Before Chen Jingzhi arrived, Master only had three direct disciples, and they were raised while they were very young. The people that came up to the mountain to learn martial arts were all outer sect disciples. To them, they were not that dissatisfied with Eldest Senior Brother and the other two senior siblings. One, they were here from the very start and had been raised by Master on the mountain for many years. It would not be strange for them to feel like parent and children. Secondly, the three of them indeed possessed great capabilities. Putting aside Eldest Senior Brother, even Senior Sister Linglong could easily bring the outer sect disciples to their knees. After entering the sect, Eldest Senior Brother occasionally gave them pointers too.
However, Chen Jingzhi was not someone who could be easily bullied. After teaching two unruly outer sect disciples their place, even if the rest were not satisfied, they would at least act courteously in front of him.
If Little Junior Brother were to embarrass himself greatly today, people would only belittle him in the future. Even though Mo Chen and Jiang Fan would protect him, most likely, he would have to live a very rough life.
Currently however, in front of everyone’s eyes, Jiang Fan could not help even if he wanted to.
Eldest Senior Brother naturally could not help either.
In the end, Master spoke up, “It’s only been a short while since you were admitted into the sect. Master hasn’t given you many pointers. Simply execute everything that you know, don’t worry.”
Xiaodong focused and unsheathed his sword.
The moment he displayed the first move of the Rudimentary Sword Techniques, Mo Chen felt that something was off.
Xiaodong’s sword techniques were not taught by Mo Chen, but ever since he returned, he had already taken the role of guiding Xiaodong off Jiang Fan’s hands. Xiaodong always would tense up the moment he raised his sword, his arms and legs would turn all stiff. Mo Chen could see that he was eager to produce results, and the more he yearned for it, the more nervous he would become.
However, the moment Little Junior Brother executed the first move, the blade looked light and floaty, and the execution of the move was feeble. Not only was there not a single hint of the nervousness he had two days ago, he instead felt like he was performing it effortlessly.
No, it was not completely effortless yet.
Mo Chen did not understand how Little Junior Brother had leapt from one extreme end to another. He clearly wasn’t like that yesterday. Was this really stage fright?
After looking at his next two moves, Mo Chen still felt he was a little different.
Though the moves still looked weak, compared to before, Little Junior Brother’s sword techniques were now smoother. Master could see that he hadn’t been slacking off. However, Mo Chen still could not help but feel uneasy. Just what had happened to Little Junior Brother? Could it be that after watching the others execute the Rudimentary Sword Techniques, he was now at a loss from having too many references? This was most likely the case. Little Junior Brother had learnt several sabre moves in the past too, and this made wielding a sword awkward for him.
Even when Xiaodong executed the final few moves that he could never completely grasp no matter how hard he tried in the past, he did not make a single mistake. His performance was much better than Mo Chen had expected.
The few whispers at the back had gradually died down.
Though Little Junior Brother’s performance could not be said to be outstanding, he did not make a single mistake. This was already sufficient. Mo Chen inwardly heaved a sigh of relief. As Little Junior Brother sheathed his sword and stood straight, his robe fluttered along with the mountain winds. Mo Chen could not help but feel a little worried again. It wasn’t a warm day today. It wasn’t much of a concern for Mo Chen and the rest, but Little Junior Brother was wearing much thinner than he usually did, most likely because of the test today. Otherwise, he would have definitely worn at least two coats.
Fortunately the test had finally ended. There were some people that Li Fulin could not bear watching, while there were some whom he uttered a few words to. As for everyone’s strengths and weaknesses, Mo Chen had a pretty good grasp of them. He would be able to point them out once they began practicing again.
After leaving the practice grounds, Li Fulin did not immediately scatter away the disciples. He had them head to the main hall and gave them a stern lecture, before letting them head off to do their own things. This was something that had to be done at the start of the year. Though Li Fulin usually spent his time watching from the side, he had to step in once in awhile, otherwise the disciples would just be like sheep without reins. The outer sect disciples left, but he had his direct disciples stay behind.
“Come come, let me show you all what I brought back from my trip this time.” Li Fulin did not look as stern as he was before. Chuckling, he completely reverted back to his usual appearance and even gestured Xiaodong over to him.
“I saw your sword techniques earlier. Not bad, it’s getting really interesting now. You need to work hard in the future too, alright?”
Xiaodong was still a little absentminded, and he had only managed to regain his senses for a short while when Master spoke. When Master was done, he was lost in thought again. Afraid that he would trip over the door’s threshold, Mo Chen had no choice but to hold his hand. However, when they were passing through the door, Little Junior Brother did not pause at all and raised his feet right over the threshold. Though, after crossing it, his consciousness began to swim again.
Mo Chen’s head ached. Did Little Junior Brother not have a good sleep last night? He didn’t look like it.
Li Fulin brought back various things this time. There were several weapons among them, and all of them were strange. People would often say that there were eighteen types of weapons, but there were still many that were not classified.
Xiaodong looked at a sword that was placed on a rack.
The sword was a flexible sword, but how flexible was it? Not only could it roll up and curve around the waist, it could even wrap around the legs.
The blade of such a sword was naturally flimsy, and it would have to be paired with an unnatural set of sword techniques.
Xiaodong felt that these weapons didn’t look new. It seemed like they had been used before. He had seen the swords and sabres that were sold in shops, and they were usually unsharpened. Not to mention, one could discern the differences between the new and the old with a glance.
How did Master bring back these used weapons? People who practiced martial arts and seek the Dao hardly leave their weapons out of their sight. Some even treated their weapons more importantly than their own lives. “The presence of a sword signified the presence of life, and the destruction of a sword would mean the death of the user” was also a common saying.
As Xiaodong made his guesses, Mo Chen softly said, “There must’ve been people who tried to scheme against Master, but had been done in by Master instead.”
So these things were the trophies that Master collected?