Unsheathed

Chapter 254 (3): Sincerity Can be Just as Moving as it Can be Hurtful
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Chapter 254 (3): Sincerity Can be Just as Moving as it Can be Hurtful

Zheng Dafeng couldn't help but burst into laughter, and he revealed, "There's no need for you to be so worried. Old Man Yang told me that if you can remove the True Qi Eight Tael Talismans on your own, then I have to ensure your safety in this city.

"Even if you had a death wish and swaggered over to the entrance of Fu City, I still have to make sure that you leave this city alive. You know what? I never realized it before, but I'm coming to realize now that you have a really good name."

"You can protect me in Old Dragon City?" Chen Ping'an asked with a skeptical expression. "Are you a Mountain Summit Tier martial artist or a Qi refiner of the Upper Five Tiers?"

Zheng Dafeng burst into laughter once again as he snapped, "What do you take ninth tier martial artists and Unpolished Jade Tier Qi refiners for? Heads of cabbage that are sold for a copper coin a dozen? No matter how perilous Old Dragon City is, eighth tier martial artists and tenth tier earth immortals are unmatched here.

“Of course, that's as long as you don't provoke all of the major clans at once. The Fu Clan may be the most powerful clan in the city, but I can still keep you safe from them. The Fu Clan's Nascent Tier patriarchs are only ninth tier Qi refiners, yet they're already considered to be almighty deities here."

Zheng Dafeng rolled his eyes as he continued, "Were you thinking that this place is just like our Jewel Small World? A place where a martial artist at the pinnacle of the eighth tier can only serve as a gatekeeper? Where the 11th tier Ruan Qiong could only work as a swordsmith prior to taking over as Sage? Where even Imperial Preceptor Cui Chan of the Great Li Empire only dared to sneak in like a timid little rat?"

"Are you plotting something by asking me to remove my disguise?" Chen Ping'an suddenly asked.

"I didn't think you would be able to tell!" Zheng Dafeng exclaimed with a surprised expression.

All of a sudden, a wisp of smoke emerged from a shadow in a nearby corner, and it took on the form of a Yin god. It sneered, "Right now, Zheng Dafeng is completely and utterly perplexed. He doesn't understand what Dao mentors and Dao guardians are supposed to do, so he asked the Fan Clan to find him a fortune teller at a very steep price, and he was told that he had to pull out the chestnuts from the fire.

“In other words, he must rescue something or someone from peril. Hence, he wants to place you in harm's way, then swoop in to save you, after which I would escort you out of Old Dragon City. During this time, perhaps he would be able to understand what the roles of Dao mentor and Dao guardian entailed, and if he were to fulfill the fortune that had been told, perhaps that would serve as a catalyst for him to ascend to the ninth tier."

Chen Ping'an turned back to look at Zheng Dafeng, who remained completely unfazed, even after being exposed, and the former said, "You can owe me the five copper coins for now. Even if you want to return them to me, I won't accept them."

Zheng Dafeng gave a casual shrug in response. "It's just five copper coins, it doesn't really matter to me whether you're going to claim them or not."

A cold smile appeared on Chen Ping'an's face as he scoffed, "Zheng Dafeng, do you really think that I don't know Old Man Yang's rules? I intentionally mentioned those five copper coins before asking you to find a swordsmanship manual for me, and only after receiving that earnest piece of advice from you did I decide to waive your debt.

“If I'm not mistaken, Old Man Yang was the one who wanted me to deliver letters back home, and it was also him who told you to owe me money, right? You must be kicking yourself right now, aren't you?"

After that, Chen Ping'an stowed his Sword Nurturing Gourd away again, then rose to his feet before setting the empty dish down onto his stool.

He then cupped his fist in a salute toward the Yin god as he said, "I don't know why you were willing to reveal the truth to me. Perhaps you were merely acting under Old Man Yang's instructions, but I still have to thank you."

The Yin god nodded in response, and Chen Ping'an departed.

Just as Chen Ping'an had said, Zheng Dafeng was indeed kicking himself.

There was a very good chance that the Yin god had just foiled his prophesied fortune, and he turned to it with a cold expression. "Why did you tell him the truth? Was that your decision, or was it what the old man wanted?"

"Why don't you take a guess?" the Yin god asked in an indifferent manner.

A carefree smile suddenly appeared on Zheng Dafeng's face as he said, "You would never do something like this on your own, so it must be what the old man wanted."

A mocking sneer appeared on the Yin god's face as it scoffed, "You're a pure martial artist at the pinnacle of the eighth tier and the disciple of a divine lord, yet you're going around seeking out the services of fortune tellers! Are you not aware that you're no ordinary person? Even if the Fan Clan hadn't tampered with your fortune reading, a fortune reading for the average person could mean something the exact opposite for you!"

A serious look appeared on Zheng Dafeng's face as he nodded in response. "Thank you for enlightening me."

The Yin god paid no heed to his words of gratitude. "The divine lord has been kind enough to assign you to this post, so you should cherish the opportunity and do what you've been told, instead of trying to outsmart the divine lord."

Zheng Dafeng waved a dismissive hand as he grumbled, "First, I get screwed over by Chen Ping'an, and now, you’re teaching me a lesson! What a terrible day! I need to go out and get some fresh air."

The Yin god quickly vanished.

"Was the phenomenon at the Sun Clan's ancestral residence triggered by Chen Ping'an's breakthrough?" Zheng Dafeng suddenly asked.

"I would presume so," the Yin god replied from the shadow in the corner.

Zheng Dafeng tucked the book in his hand under his armpit, then carried his stool and his sunflower seeds to the entrance of the alley, where he began spying on the beautiful women passing by again.

Right at this moment, a tall and authoritative-looking man dressed in very simple attire began to approach him, and trailing along behind him was a beautiful young woman.

The man made his way over to Zheng Dafeng's side, while the young woman stopped behind the man, and she was looking at Zheng Dafeng with an intrigued expression on her face.

The man smiled as he said, "Looks like you were right, Shopkeeper Zheng. Sun Jiashu really did only assign him a disguise for his protection."

Zheng Dafeng turned to take a glance at the man, then remarked, "Well, well, well, if it isn't Fu Qi. The fact that you're not even wearing your Old Dragon Robe tells me that you're not here to evict me."

The man smiled as he pointed at the young woman behind him and replied, "Here in Old Dragon City, it doesn't matter if I'm wearing the Old Dragon Robe or not. The fact that I've brought her with me is the real gesture of sincerity."

This was both a display of weakness and an act of intimidation.

The intimidatory element was the implication that Fu Qi would be able to chase Zheng Dafeng out of Old Dragon City even without doing so himself, while the display of weakness was reflected in the fact that Fu Qi was willing to appease Zheng Dafeng by bringing to him a young woman with long legs.

Zheng Dafeng took a few lustful glances at the young woman's legs, then turned his gaze back to the pedestrians walking along the street as he scoffed, "You sure have a big mouth, Fu Qi! Be careful you don't bite off more than you can chew!"

Fu Qi's expression instantly darkened slightly, and only after grabbing onto a jade pendant hanging from his waist did his expression revert back to normal.

Meanwhile, a fearful look had appeared on the young woman's face. This was the first time she had ever seen him make such an apparent outward display of anger.

A cold sneer appeared on Zheng Dafeng's face as he scoffed, "We may both be businessmen, but you can't even begin to compare with me!"

Fu Qi smiled as he said, "I can tell that you're not in a good mood right now, so I'll come and visit you some other time."

Indeed, Zheng Dafeng's mood was currently as foul as foul could be.

Five copper coins was a trivial sum of money, even for the average mortal, yet these five copper coins were weighing down on his heart like five mountains! He had been extremely careful and meticulous, finally goading Chen Ping'an into waiving the debt.

In reality, from the three questions raised by Chen Ping'an and that seemingly errant remark of "Old Man Yang never owes anyone anything," Zheng Dafeng already knew that there was no chance that Chen Ping'an would ask him to repay those five copper coins. Despite his young age, the boy was as cunning as a fox!

Zheng Dafeng was absolutely furious, and began fanning himself vigorously with the book in his hand as he grumbled, "No wonder I disliked him from the very beginning. He's so shrewd and cunning at such a young age! He's not like an innocent boy at all!"

A deflated look then appeared on his face as he sighed, "Then again, if he were just an ordinary young boy, then he would've never survived to this day."

After that, Zheng Dafeng began to flip through the pages of his book with a frustrated look on his face, and he wasn't able to take in even a single word that he read. As he did so, he murmured to himself, "Could it be that that thing's right? Have I really outsmarted myself?"

Right at this moment, Zheng Dafeng landed on a page with a title that read "Chapter of Sincerity." The chapter consisted of a bunch of cliched parables thrown together with a few pieces of pretentious commentary at the end.

The way that everything had been thrown together so haphazardly was almost blasphemous to the classic parables included in the chapter. In the eyes of someone as intelligent and highly educated as Zheng Dafeng, it was as if someone had tried to put together a beautiful woman out of parts and ended up with an abomination.

It had the elegant eyes and brows of one woman, the rosy cheeks of another, the cherry lips of a third... All of the individual parts were quite beautiful to behold on their own, but when thrown together, it was nothing short of a hideous disaster.

Zheng Dafeng flipped over one more page in an absent-minded manner. That page contained the final section of the Chapter of Sincerity, which consisted of more vague and vapid principles.

"It's said that those who display the utmost sincerity can touch even the coldest and most jaded of hearts. Hence, sincerity is an integral trait for followers of Confucianism."

"A Daoist sage has also once stated that without sincerity, one cannot truly move others, and that those who truly know themselves are referred to as 'enlightened' and can display the utmost sincerity."

Zheng Dafeng quickly flipped over to the next page, which contained the Chapter of Filial Piety, and he quickly flipped through that chapter as well. Before long, he had flipped through the entire book, and he closed it in a frustrated manner before using it to fan himself again.

It was as if all of the sagely teachings in the book were mere gusts of wind blowing past his ears.

In the end, a resigned look appeared on his face as he sighed to himself, "The old man has already told me that I'll never be able to reach the ninth tier, so what's the point in trying to force the issue? I've already been striving for so many years in futility. No wonder the old man always says that I'm too smart for my own good.

“How many times have I fought Li Er? Song Changjing was able to make a breakthrough after fighting Senior Brother Li just once, yet I haven't been able to make any progress even after countless attempts. I've always known that this is something that can't be forced, but I've been hoping against hope for a miracle that's never going to come.

“So be it. I guess I'll just stay in Old Dragon City and stare at women all day long, stuck at the eighth tier until the day I die..."

A dejected look appeared on his face as he closed his eyes, no longer spying on the beautiful women passing him by.

Nearby was a young woman with a physique that could only be described as brawny. She was dressed in extremely vibrant attire, while her face was covered in makeup. As she stopped in her tracks and witnessed Zheng Dafeng's dejected display, a hint of sympathy immediately welled up in her heart.

In her eyes, it was clear that Zheng Dafeng wanted to confess his feelings to her, but was too embarrassed to do so. With that in mind, she decided that she had to make the first move instead of placing the onus upon him.

Hence, she took a deep breath, yet right before she could speak, Zheng Dafeng's eyes had abruptly sprung open, and he rushed back into the alley with his stool like the wind.

She heaved a faint sigh as she stroked her own cheek, lamenting herself for her own stunning beauty. Perhaps if she weren't so beautiful, then the man of her dreams wouldn't be too intimidated to confess his feelings to her.

All of a sudden, her expression stiffened slightly as she realized that she was rubbing off the makeup on her face, and she hurriedly tried to rub the makeup back onto her face.

————

Instead of returning to Fu city with his daughter using any mystical abilities, the two of them casually strolled back to Fu city, while a horse-drawn carriage slowly trundled along behind them.

This young woman was Fu Chunhua. She was Fu Qi's eldest daughter, which meant that just like Fu Donghai, Fu Qi's eldest son, she was one of the candidates to become Fu Qi's heir as clan leader.

The heir to the position of clan leader was going to inherit the Old Dragon Robe as well, and they had to possess exceptional aptitude. On the surface, it appeared that Fu Qi was a middle-aged man, but in reality, he was already over 400 years old and a 10th tier cultivator.

Of course, he didn't have as resounding a reputation as Li Tuanjing of Wind Lightning Field, who was known as the most powerful 10th tier cultivator on Eastern Treasured Vial Continent and the most formidable cultivator under the Upper Five Tiers, but with his Old Dragon Robe and the Fu Clan's four pseudo-celestial tools at his disposal, his powers weren't inferior to those of an Unpolished Jade Tier immortal.

Fu Chunhua was also already close to 300 years of age, and both she and Fu Donghai were established Golden Core Tier cultivators. Furthermore, both of them were very adept in battle, with each of them having escorted one of the Fu Clan's ships during its journeys to Stalactite Mountain and back for over a century.

Both of them were seasoned combatants who had engaged in battles of life and death against deepsea great demons on more than just a few occasions. Most importantly, all members of the Fu Clan who reached the Golden Core Tier were granted a pseudo-celestial tool, so it had always been said that the cultivation bases of the Fu Clan's top Qi refiners had to be regarded as half a tier above their actual cultivation bases.

After much hesitation, Fu Chunhua finally mustered up some courage before asking, "Father, why did you take me to see that man instead of Nanhua?"

"Didn't I already tell you that I brought you with me as a show of our Fu Clan's sincerity? The intelligence that we gathered on Shopkeeper Zheng clearly stated that he likes beautiful women with long legs," Fu Qi replied with a smile

Fu Chunhua was completely unconvinced. 𝓃𝓸𝓋ℯ𝓁ℯ𝒶𝓈𝓽.𝒸𝓸𝓶

Even though she was the one of the candidates to become Fu Qi's heir, she knew full well, just as Fu Donghai and Fu Nanhua did, that the connections that they had painstakingly established were nowhere near enough for them to get a peek into what things were truly like at the very pinnacle of Eastern Treasured Vial Continent.

Furthermore, while there were certainly many benefits to having Fu Qi for a father, there were also plenty of restrictions, and they were often very fearful of crossing certain lines in case doing so earned their father's disapproval.

In the Fu Clan, it seemed like everyone had a high degree of freedom, but those who had no hopes of ever taking over as clan leader had already been banished out of the core circle of decision-makers. In contrast, for those who were in this core circle, the rules that they had to abide by were no less stringent than those in major empires.

Over the past century, Fu Donghai had been responsible for managing relations with Complete Reed Continent to the north, while Fu Chunhua had been tasked with managing relations with the continent to the southeast. Previously, Fu Nanhua had just been an unremarkable sibling of theirs, but in a surprise twist, he had been selected to travel to Jewel Small World.

Only after that did he embark on his meteoric rise, with much of the clan's resources being allocated to him. From this, it was clear that Fu Qi hadn't been very happy with how Fu Donghai and Fu Chunhua had performed over the past century.

Fu Chunhua knew that she wasn't going to get a truthful answer to her question, so she changed the subject as she asked, "Should I go and issue a warning to Sun Jiashu?"

"Sun Jiashu?" Fu Qi scoffed. "His cultivation base may be inferior to yours, but he's still the leader of the Sun Clan. What right does a Golden Core Tier Qi refiner like you have to issue a warning to him?

“A Nascent Tier patriarch is currently staying in the Sun Clan's ancestral residence, and as for the other Golden Core Tier Qi refiner, he's only just beginning to display signs of turning to our side after several decades of meticulous efforts from your brother. 𝒏𝒐𝙫𝒆𝙡𝒆𝙖𝒔𝒕.𝒄𝒐𝒎

“If our Fu Clan were to try and intimidate Sun Jiashu now, do you think that Golden Core Tier Qi refiner would be able to lay down his pride to defect to our Fu Clan?"

New novel chapters are published on 𝑓𝓇ℯℯ𝓌ℯ𝑏𝑛𝘰𝑣ℯ𝘭.𝘤𝘰𝘮

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