Not Very Astute
Despite not being as famous as Mount Lu Sword Sanctuary or Luo Ming’s swordplay, Bai Clan’s “Yearning Broadswordplay” was considered as profound as they came. People who personally saw it, though, would praise it for being somewhat unique but awfully shallow; nobody could understand it entirely.
Yearning Broadswordplay only consisted of twelve moves that weren’t exactly complex. No matter how many generations passed and new disciplines were invented, no moves were added or subtracted from Yearning Broadswordplay.
As soon as Master Qi heard Fang Xiaoyu blurt the name, she went to walk off because it was inappropriate to watch someone reveal their secrets in the pugilistic world – even if the performer didn’t mind. Guan Ning, nonetheless, pulled her back and shook his head. Since he even smiled, Master Qi didn’t insist on leaving despite her puzzlement.
Bai Zhiqing slowed down with each successive strike until he seemed to be waiting in between strikes. Simultaneously, he kept increasing the distance between him and Hong Jiu until he was no longer making contact.
Master Qi: No wonder why he doesn’t mind anyone seeing him.
Accompanying each hand motion, Hong Jiu felt warm ripples stimulating his true qi. Ever since Vivianite chopped him, Hong Jiu felt suffocated in spite of his true qi potency. After fighting Drought Demon, the uncomfortable sense of stuffiness inside him felt more pronounced.
In the past, no matter the severity of his injuries, Hong Jiu would be bouncing off walls and ready to slay tigers in no time at all, yet he needed people to support him just to walk after more than two days this time. Following Bai Zhiqing’s chops, Hong Jiu felt winded and disoriented. Hong Jiu was aware of the dangerous thing that laid dormant inside him, but he didn’t dare to resist the illusions and discomfort.
Bai Zhiqing’s smile was praise for Hong Jiu. He repeated the broadswordplay play for again for a fifth time. He started at the first move, “Red Bean Born in the South”, concluded at the fourth move, “This is What I Yearn for Most”, then repeated from the top again.
Every disciple of Bai Clan had learnt the broadswordplay as it was the first thing they learnt upon joining. Bai Zhiqing had mentioned time and time again that the wielder’s intent was more important than their techniques when executing “Yearning Broadswordplay”. In other words, if two people were to perform an identical technique, the output and effect would differ depending on what intent they put behind it. Guan Ning’s specialty was the fourth move because it was his favourite. Yet, Guan Ning couldn’t fathom the intricacies as he watched.
Hong Jiu could feel something dangerous inside him trying to escape from his body. Once the rumbling in his ears was so intense that his vision was distorted, he heard Bai Zhiqing inform, “The intent imbued in the chops will meld with your body’s discipline. It will follow whatever you do and feel what you feel. In essence, it is using your potent internal energy as a host. However, it lacks vitality. Therefore, it will gradually erase your life force if it stays in you. Since it fuses with your true qi, you won’t be able to find it or expel it even if you turn your body inside out.
“Fortunately, it hasn’t been in your body for long. I am constantly feeding my intent into your body to draw it out. Once it’s been removed from your body, not only will you be safe, but your internal energy will also be upgraded.”
Suddenly, the Earth trembled. The viciously programmed energy planted shot out of Hong Jiu’s body and rotated atop Bai Zhiqing’s hand. Bai Zhiqing guided the energy up into the ether. From an energy-efficiency standpoint, Bai Zhiqing should’ve dumped the energy into the field of flowers, but that would ruin the flowers. He then smashed the energy, only to lose his base and fall into the mud, panting.
“My, my, what a man. The man planted a gu in case it wasn’t enough to kill his target. Who the hell is the genius?”
Guan Ning approached his shifu but didn’t help the latter up since he knew his shifu just expended plenty of energy. “Shifu, are you all right?”
“I think I’ll need up to five months to recover my essence because I just spent half of it.”
Fang Xiaoyu and Master Qi looked at each other, unable to believe Bai Zhiqing would go so far without hesitation. He and Hong Jiu had barely spent five minutes together, after all. Martial artists valued what they developed more than anything. Even the benevolent monks of Shaolin would only save a life – which wasn’t frequent – if there was no alternative. None of them would go hunting for precious herbs and give up their energy for someone they met for the first time. If they did, they were either incorrigibly stupid or plotting something. It made Fang Xiaoyu feel ashamed for he couldn’t be as noble as Bai Zhiqing despite being a Shaolin disciple, so he placed his hands together and prayed for Bai Zhiqing.
Bai Zhiqing wagged his hands. “Please don’t. I’m not dead.”
Hong Jiu rolled over and kowtowed thrice.
“Hey! Did you kowtow out of spite because I told him not to recite a sutra?! Is it Tomb-Sweeping Day today?!” blustered Bai Zhiqing.
“Hong Jiu is forever grateful to you, Third Grandpa Bai!” Hong Jiu looked up, eyes brimming with a shine unlike his usual domineering gaze.
The choking sensation in Hong Jiu’s neck and the occasional spurts of cold shivers were gone. His energy and qi could flow with impunity. Instead of celebrating his level up, howbeit, he was grateful from the bottom of his heart. If Bai Zhiqing ever needed a sacrifice, Hong Jiu wouldn’t hesitate to raise his hand.
Even though it took Bai Zhiqing quite the effort to sit down, reinforced by his exhale, he smiled. “The primary purpose of your visit is to seek my help. If I turned you away when I can help, a chunk of my conscience would be gnawed away. Rather than waffle and then live with regret in the end, why not just get straight into it? If I remove the energy from your body ten minutes earlier, I will be fully recovered ten minutes earlier. If you do the maths, aren’t I winning? I don’t do business if there’s a negative return on investment, hahaha.”
Master Qi and Fang Xiaoyu were still as surprised as when they first met Bai Zhiqing, but there was now genuine respect.
Hong Jiu’s gratitude was amplified even further. “I shall not waste any more words on pointless appreciate remarks. If you ever need me in the future, your wish is my command.”
“You have an opportunity to present right now.” Bai Zhiqing got to his feet with Guan Ning’s help. “Why are Fiends’ Genesis back? Tell me everything in detail. They can’t be targeting Mount Daluo now, can they?”
“Indeed, they are not. I only encountered them because I followed Miss Wen. I do not know the reason for their resurgence myself,” Hong Jiu answered.
“That sounds about right. I surmise you only ran into them by chance and that they are not officially returning yet.”
“From what I know, you led the orthodox factions into their home twenty years ago to exterminate them. It was through that war that you became extolled and then gradually built your ‘Philandering Broadsword Paragon’ nickname.”
“That is excessive praise.” Bai Zhiqing shook his head. “I was only twenty-one, twenty-two back then; I didn’t even have a beard. How was I leading anyone when I was a lousy fighter? I was the one who threw a tantrum and begged them to take me along so that I could broaden my horizons.
“While we did enter Fiends’ Genesis’ headquarters, ‘exterminating’ them is an erroneous exaggeration. Rather than saying we uprooted them, it would be more accurate to say we plucked some leaves and dug up some dirt; we never touched their roots. Not one of the Seven Stars lost their lives. When we came face to face with their leader, we were basically obliterated. The ones who deserve the credit for defeating Fiends’ Genesis are Mount Lu’s Wordless Sword Deity and my eldest brother.
“The ‘Philandering Broadsword Paragon’ name is utter nonsense. My skills with a broadsword are nowhere near my eldest brother’s level. My second brother is a lot more intimidating than I am. Plus, the only woman I’ve ever loved is my wife. How did I ‘philander’? What ‘broadsword’ prowess do I have to brag about? ‘Paragon’ of what?”
Hong Jiu: “Ehehe, but if you did not escape to report back, the two elders would not have flown into a fury and flattened Fiends’ Genesis.”
Bai Zhiqing suddenly went from gloomy to invigorated. “That’s true. If I didn’t have a good pair of legs, I’d have met my end there. That’s why I was thinking, if they’re really coming back, instead of targeting you guys, they should be hunting me down.”
Immediately after Bai Zhiqing was finished speaking, someone from afar cried, “Patriarch! Patriarch!”
It had a long time since Bai Zhiqing heard such a ruckus at his valley. “Ning’er, ask him what happened.”
“What happened?” Guan Ning yelled back to the person in the distance.
“Patriarch, someone claiming to be from Fiends Genesis’ has trespassed into the rear mountain and stated he is here for you.”
Bai Zhiqing: “…”
Tomb-Sweeping Day – Also known as Qingming Festival. During Qingming, Chinese families visit the tombs of their ancestors to clean the gravesites, pray to their ancestors and make ritual offerings. If you play Genshin and played Hutao’s story, you should understand the aversion to death.