Qin Lu: I’m not the protagonist, so why pit me?
A piece of broken ice suddenly fell outside the window. The sun rose, and the snow began to melt.
Mo Li’s hand dangling from his sleeves shrank. He raised his head and just happened to meet Qin Lu’s concerned eyes.
Seeing Elder Qin’s gray hair, Mo Li once again got stuck.
How should he use words to express his meaning implicitly and tactfully without frightening the teacher?
Mo Li’s heart was in a mess. He looked around the room and wanted to find something as a metaphor. However, his poetry and literary skills are very general. Although he could think of a few poems, he couldn’t open his mouth, and now he’s at a loss for what to do.
Qin Lu sighed when he saw Mo Li’s eyes wandering.
Every time Mo Li wanted to change the subject, or he felt like there’s something he couldn’t say directly, he’d look like this.
Elder Qin didn’t know whether to continue pressuring his student, or to let Mo Li think about it alone and talk about it another day. In the midst of his dilemma, his student suddenly stood up.
“Teacher, please wait a moment.”
Mo Li finished speaking and walked behind the screen, then moved out a bathtub.
Qin Lu looked confused.
Mo Li didn’t explain. He went outside to get buckets of well water, and poured it all into the tub. Then he started to close the doors and windows.
Elder Qin was stunned. Though the well water wasn’t frozen, it’s still bitingly cold in this cold winter. Even if martial artists aren’t afraid of the cold, they wouldn’t have a cold bath in winter unless they’re practicing some special exercises.
No, no, even if you want to take a cold bath, why do you have to do that in front of him?
Qin Lu was about to stop him when he suddenly saw Mo Li took out a porcelain bottle and sat in front of him again.
So the master and disciple sat opposite each other with a big barrel in between.
Qin Lu couldn’t grasp the situation and didn’t know what’s the medicine inside his student’s bottle. He coughed slightly: “Shi Zhi, what are you doing with the tub?”
Mo Li opened the porcelain bottle in his hand, poured out a pill, then gave it to Elder Qin with both hands.
Qin Lu took it inexplicably, and habitually smelled it.
“Borneol, safflower, red peony, chuanxiong rhizome…is this your new heart protection pill?” Qin Lu looked carefully, and saw that the surface of the pill was smooth and brown. He couldn’t help but nod in admiration.
Although the boiled medicinal soup is good, it’s too late when it comes to an emergency. This heart protection pill was exactly like its name.
After Qin Lu finished speaking, he found his student silently looking at himself. He was taken aback, you mean he had to eat it?
“Shi Zhi, your teacher doesn’t have any heart problems.” This puzzled Qin Lu.
Mo Li almost uttered, “just in case”. He didn’t know how to get Qin Lu to eat the pill first. People who are not sick will always feel uncomfortable taking medicine. For martial artists, this kind of medicine for promoting blood circulation and unblocking vessels should be used with caution to prevent qi deviation.
“…teacher, can you seal your acupoints?”
“Seal my acupoints? Why?” Qin Lu was even more puzzled.
Mo Li took a deep breath and said respectfully: “Because teacher has a deep cultivation base and extensive inner qi. Once things went wrong, the danger increases exponentially, so this student dare not take risks.”
It made sense, but——
“Why would my inner qi deviate?” Elder Qin asked blankly. He went to bed early and woke up early every day, his diet was moderate, he avoided being overjoyed or angry, and he had no strong enemies running over to fight with him. It’s all good, so why would his inner qi deviate?
Mo Li felt that his teacher made sense. When Qin Lu was young, he traveled all over the world and was well-informed. When he confessed that he’s a spirit, he just worried over him for a long time. He didn’t regard himself as a different being, let alone faint, so maybe he could hold it this time?
——no, no, just in case.
Mo Li made up his mind and said cautiously: “Because this student wants to show teacher something…”
He closed his eyes, steadied his heart, and said directly: “This is to answer what teacher asked just now.”
Qin Lu was taken aback. He looked at the heart protection pill in his hand, and then remembered that Mo Li requested him to seal his acupoints. Suddenly, he had thousands of speculations in his mind. He had watched Mo Li grow up and there’s nothing he didn’t know about him. Was it such an earth-shattering problem? Mo Li wasn’t a native of Zhushan County, nor is he a child of the mountain village, but from a different origin?
Right, when he picked him up, his skin was white and tender, looking like a pampered boy.
It’s just after that, Mo Li didn’t complain once, nor said he’s tired, and also didn’t cry. Qin Lu ignored these details. After all, the rural folks wouldn’t have that many children for every generation. Before the age of ten, they weren’t called to work because a child dying was more likely, so they’re afraid of raising them.
Qin Lu also remembered that Mo Li couldn’t speak when he was a child. He couldn’t use chopsticks, nor even dress or remember the past—— can’t remember or can’t say? It’s not uncommon for the children of those prominent and powerful families to have maids attend to them since they were young.
The more Qin Lu thought, the more chaotic his mind was.
Thinking that his student being gloomy all day long was actually because he couldn’t go home / won’t be recognized by his relatives, Elder Qin frowned. In the past, these family disputes are the most exhausting. The concubine-born children would be secretly assassinated by the main wife, the main family would suppress the branch families. Just how many families have fallen because of this, and how many talented people have died young?
“Shi Zhi, ah…”
Qin Lu sighed for a long time, met Mo Li’s earnest eyes, and immediately admitted defeat. He silently sealed his acupoints.
Mo Li put the porcelain bottle of heart protection pills on the table, making sure to show the fish pattern on it, then whispered: “Teacher, Zhuangzi talked about the joys of a fish, but people don’t know the difficulties of a fish.”
Qin Lu’s heart thumped, is this his illness acting up again, or is he using fish as a metaphor?
If he’s caught in a family struggle, it’d be really difficult for outsiders to help. The hatred wouldn’t be as simple as between good and evil. Sometimes, it would even involve generations of people, and couldn’t be understood in just a few words. But his student is so good. If he’s delayed by something like this, how can he be happy? Isn’t this a sin?
Qin Lu solemnly said:
“Fish is born in water. It thinks that water is the world, its heaven and earth, and its everything, but it’s really not. Why not jump out and not get trapped in that corner, holding yourself back.”
Mo Li paused. It turned out that his teacher also supported him to leave Qi Mao Mountain?
“Shi Zhi, have you ever seen anything other than that pool of water?”
“…I’ve seen it.”
Qin Lu felt relieved. He thought Mo Li was talking about being by his side for his last years, giving up his family name and disregarding his bloodline, then concentrating on studying literature and martial arts, curing diseases, and saving lives.
Who would have thought Mo Li would turn the subject and say: “Last night, I wandered around the Great Capital and saw a dragon vein. It covered the sky and the sun.”
“The sky is big and the scenery is different…wait, wait, what did you say? Great Capital? Dragon vein?” Elder Qin looked at a loss. Aren’t they using metaphors? It’s such a good analogy, why did a dragon vein suddenly appear?
“Did you dream of dragon veins?”
Out of body experiences would mean dreaming in the case of scholars. Qin Lu instinctively felt that things were not that simple.
Mo Li looked at the pill in Qin Lu’s hand, thinking that his teacher still didn’t know that he’s a dragon vein.
“It’s not a dream, but rather taking on a spiritual form. It took me to the Great Capital. The dragon vein has a golden body and a body shaped like a mountain, better than…maybe a thousand times bigger than the black dragon we saw yesterday.”
Elder Qin felt dazed, opening and closing his mouth again and again.
After all, he saw the black dragon with his own eyes.
“Teacher, I don’t understand why I’m a fish.” Mo Li said, very distressed. What’s missing between a dragon and a fish?
Qin Lu hesitated to speak. In fact, he wanted to say, why can’t you be a human? Why always stress over being a fish?
“In fact, I had wanted to ask for a long time. Since Teacher traveled around the world, have you ever seen a fish like me?”
Mo Li stood up and took off his robe and boots. It’s really not easy to come out in front of his teacher, so he simply approached the tub and bowed his head toward the water. Qin Lu was first doubtful but then horrified eyes turned towards his original form.
The clothes fluttered on the edge of the tub.
The person was gone.
Elder Qin was stunned.
Then he felt tightness in his chest and shortness of breath as the qi in his dantian boiled over. If he hadn’t sealed his acupoints, his inner qi would be like a horse running wild, uncontrollably running between his veins and meridians which he wouldn’t be able to control at all. Because he had blanked out, he even stopped breathing, not knowing who he was and what’s going on.
The water splashed in all directions and a black fish jumped out of the water, then poked its head out, eagerly looking at Qin Lu.
Qin Lu saw the urging in the fish’s eyes.
Urging? Qin Lu subconsciously lowered his head to see the pill in his hand, then immediately reacted and raised his hand to eat it.
Not long after the medicine took effect, Qin Lu’s chest tightness and shortness of breath disappeared. He coughed again and again, struggled to stand up, walked to the bathtub, and looked at the fish inside.
Mo Li thought that Qin Lu approached to look at his appearance, so he swam around the tub slowly.
Qin Lu’s eyes were blank.
——such a good student. When he said he’s a fish, he really became a fish.
Why did a big living person become a fish?!
So what he saved in the flood back then was a fish? He saved a fish from the water?!
…Mo Li is really a black fish!
So his student didn’t have an illness?
No, it’s worse than being sick! You can cure an illness, but what about being a fish? Are you really going to jump through the dragon’s gate?
Qin Lu took a step back, as if he had lost all his strength.
Seeing the reflection in the water, Mo Li felt that the situation wasn’t right and quickly got into the clothes hanging on the edge of the tub, then turned into a human form. The collar and sleeves got wet but that didn’t matter. His spiritual qi could be used as an inner qi, so it could be dried in an instant.
Qin Lu weakly looked at Mo Li. He hoped his student was just performing a trick, but after seeing the fish in the tub, how could he still not figure it out? Even if he wanted to deceive himself, he couldn’t, so he could only keep coughing.
Mo Li felt a little regretful, and quickly said: “It’s all this student’s recklessness.”
Qin Lu raised his hand to stop him. He tried to catch his breath, touched Mo Li’s hand, and said with a complicated expression: “No, you should have told me earlier…I mean, you should have shown me your original body earlier.”
“I’m worried that I’d scare teacher.”
Mo Li couldn’t help lowering his head, because Qin Lu held his hand and kept touching it over and over again.
“I’d still be scared sooner or later.” Elder Qin unhappily said.
Once he knew that Mo Li was really a fish, it immediately solved the questions in Qin Lu’s heart. What kind of life would a fish like? How could he be happy if he’s not in the water and without any companions?
“You wait first, let teacher take a breather.”
Mo Li thoughtfully helped Qin Lu sit down, and poured him a cup of hot tea.
Qin Lu looked at the porcelain bottle and said after deep thought: “Your problem’s a little difficult to handle.”
Mo Li sat upright and replied, “I searched Qi Mao Mountain, and there are no other spirits.”
“So you want to go outside to look…this is reasonable. Let me think about it again.” Elder Qin continued to stare at the porcelain bottle because there were two fish patterns on it.
The pair helped each other and was deeply affectionate.
The author has something to say:
I’ll translate the last few paragraphs for you——
Qin Lu: Your problem’s a bit difficult.
Mo Li: Yes, this disciple knows.
Mo Li [not noticing that there are two fish patterns on the bottle] thought to himself: I want to find a friend, another fish spirit is fine, but other spirits are fine too.
Qin Lu [staring at the two fish pattern thoughtfully] thought: This big fish has to be married to another spirit. Xiao Tang and I are both humans, so he had to find a partner.
I think the most miserable in this chapter is Elder Qin, not the protagonist.
Elder Qin was heartbroken. Why did my disciple become a fish? I have eaten many fish for so many years, but why did my disciple never say anything? Did I really just saved a fish from the water? Why can’t I feel any scales from my disciple’s hand? Why did a black fish become white and tender when it turned into a child? This color is all wrong!