Fish 088: Spiritual Qingjiang River

Fish 087: ————
Fish 089: Qi Cheng Zong Mountain

There’s a disease called ‘the physician thinks you might be sick’


The waters of the river flow ceaselessly, shrouded in a misty rain that blurs the view.

The distant shores are sketched like brows and eyelashes, facing this vast expanse of Qingjiang River, a silent testament to unspoken emotions.

With the coming of spring, the ice and snow melt away, raising the water level slightly.

Even so, the vast stretches of mud beneath the riverbanks are exposed, showing the effects of the three-year drought in Yongzhou. Some of the mud has been planted with crops in small patches, their green sprouts pleasing to the eye. A few barefoot farmers busily weed the area.

“Old man, what will you do if the water rises?” Mo Li couldn’t help but ask as he approached.

He spoke in the dialect of central Shaanxi, prompting a farmer to glance at him, then at the armed wanderers on the riverbank, their expressions tinged with fear. The eldest among them, without lifting his head, replied, “They’re just vegetable seedlings; they can be harvested in a month or two before the summer floods. The soil here is fertile and the crops grow well.”

After speaking, he picked up his dry pipe and took a couple of puffs.

“Young man, which village are you from? Your accent sounds a bit strange.”

Mo Li smiled, removed his bamboo hat, and said he was just passing through and had learned a few phrases from people here.

Seeing his youth yet sensing a maturity about him, the old man conversed more freely.

“Young man, do you know what’s happening around here, with all these outsiders wielding swords and spears?”

The elder, having seen much, knew these were wanderers but was puzzled in his heart.

Moreover, these wanderers often caused trouble, accidentally hurting people or damaging property, so the locals kept their distance.

“They’re just passing through, they won’t stay long,” Mo Li reassured.

“Crossing the river?”

The farmers looked at each other, then said, “You can’t cross here; the ferryboats are gone.”

“You want to cross too? Ah, you better check the next crossing.”

“There are no boats left here!”

Everyone was speaking at once, their voices a confused din. Even with Mo Li’s exceptional hearing, he could only make out these few phrases. The others said much the same; there was no crossing the river here.

Meng Qi had gone to gather information and wasn’t at Mo Li’s side.

Mo Li was surprised and asked, “No ferryboats? How could that be?”

They had followed the main road, and had just passed a post station; the ferry should have been close by.

“It’s the officials. They posted a notice just the day before yesterday! No wood may go down the river; the crossing is temporarily closed.” The elder hesitated, but because Mo Li carried no weapons, just a travel bag, looking more like a young man visiting relatives than a wanderer, he explained, “It seems to be related to these wanderers, surely they’ve caused some trouble.”

Mo Li thanked him and continued on his way.

The number of wanderers on the road was increasing; acquaintances greeted each other warmly, while enemies drew their swords to fight, often forming a circle in the middle of the road. To onlookers, if it wasn’t a fight, it was a performance—applause for the former, indifference for the latter.

Many lone travelers didn’t even glance at the commotion, just walking straight past.

Gradually, these lone travelers sensed something unusual; there were too many groups whispering amongst themselves, as if waiting for something.

The road to the ferry was impassable.

Indeed, there were no boats.

Or rather, the boats had all disappeared, the river’s surface empty and devoid of even fishing vessels.

“What’s going on?”

“Don’t know, maybe it’s the fishing off-season?”

“…The fishing boats are gone, but there should still be ferries, right? What’s happening?”

Many of the wandering swordsmen were cursing and growing impatient.

Mo Li silently pondered, if he were without his baggage, without Meng Qi, could the Qingjiang stop a fish?

Clearly not.

This was the widest expanse of water he had seen since leaving Zhushan County, with swift currents that would surely make for a strong swim.

Mo Li hadn’t transformed into his original form for a long time.

In Zhushan County, he would soak in the Spirit Spring Pond every fortnight.

Not for any particular reason, but because the place was rich with spiritual energy.

He knew every rock in that pond; it was like his home.

Mo Li was lost in thought looking at the river water, not even noticing when Meng Qi returned.

“Physician?”

Seeing Mo Li’s expression, Meng Qi immediately guessed the Physician’s thoughts. When in his original form, the sight of soft, clean sand grains would inevitably lure him to roll over them; the temptation of water for a fish must be similar.

“…Shall we find a secluded spot?” Meng Qi suggested.

Mo Li snapped back to reality, giving Meng Qi an involuntary glare.

—How was this different from asking him to undress? The suggestion was made so ambiguously, as if they were about to do something unspeakable!

Meng Qi was unfazed, as transforming was indeed a matter not to be seen by “people”.

He was a sand rat; it didn’t count.

“If Brother Meng continues like this, the next time the sand rat leaves, I will not keep its clothes and sword,” Mo Li warned.

“Cough, no need for now,” Meng Qi replied, feigning ignorance of Mo Li’s insinuation, and spoke earnestly, “The last two times I went out, I didn’t undress.”

This reminded Mo Li of an incident.

The last time the sand rat returned, it transformed directly into human form by his bed and started eating the sugar-fried chestnuts on the table.

Without clothes!

Despite the chill of the spring night and knowing that Meng Qi’s deep internal strength should prevent him from catching cold, Physician Mo couldn’t help but imagine the sand rat sneezing continuously.

Its limbs stretched out, every hair on its body standing on end.

If it was so sick it couldn’t move, burrowed in his embrace sneezing non-stop, wouldn’t it be like holding a bouncing, soft ball that couldn’t be kept down?

Mo Li had only cared for a fox with a cold before. How would he administer medicine to such a small sand rat?

No, the real question was, would the medicine even go down?

At that time, Mo Li’s thoughts wandered far off, and when he came back to his senses, he found Meng Qi had silently dressed, looking somewhat dejected. Then Meng Qi neatly dressed himself and went out to gather information. After all, was there any news that required him to transform into a fat rat to eavesdrop? Wouldn’t it be more convenient with light body skills?

“There are no ferries here, what’s the reason for that?” Mo Li looked again towards the river.

Meng Qi said helplessly, “It’s the trouble with the imperial tomb.”

The term ‘xia’ here refers to chivalrous warriors. The so-called ‘jianghu’ (martial world) was originally made up of these warriors, who were brave and fierce, and took their promises seriously, often facing death without hesitation. There were both good and bad among these warriors. To this day, there are still those in the jianghu who honor their promises, but unfortunately, they have also inherited the problem of not taking laws and other people’s lives seriously.

A dispute often leads to drawing swords and bloodshed within five steps.

It’s one thing for these jianghu people to fight among themselves, but the problem arises when they bring harm to the common folk.

Large sects would discipline their disciples to not harm ordinary people and to be discreet even when climbing over city walls. But for those from the unorthodox paths, it’s hard to say. Therefore, whenever there’s a large gathering of jianghu people, the government pays special attention.

This time, the jianghu people traveling from Yongzhou to Taijing caused a major incident.

They broke into the imperial tomb!

They destroyed the encampment and housing of the tomb’s garrison.

Fortunately, the ancestral temple and the hall of enjoyment were not affected (the jianghu people didn’t dare to offend the court to death), but the governor of Yongzhou was still furious when he heard about this and sent an urgent report to Taijing.

Coincidentally, the patrol department in charge of the security of the streets of the capital also noticed an excessive influx of jianghu people. Minister Zhang and Minister Jiang did not dare delay, and Lu Zhang, who was already angry about the ‘eclipse’ incident, was furious when he heard the news and issued such a command.

Under the heavens, all land belongs to the emperor.

Although this saying only applies effectively to the northern parts of the Qi dynasty, it is still a principle recognized by the emperor.

Walking on the land of the Qi dynasty, using the roads of the Qi dynasty, and now brawling and recklessly breaking into the imperial tomb? And still wanting to enter the capital? Not leaving any boats for you, if you have the capability, walk a hundred li to find a ferry upstream or downstream.

“I came from the county yamen here, and it is said that His Majesty was furious, sealing off a hundred li stretch of the Qingjiang River,” Meng Qi said, touching his nose.

This sounded like a rash decision, forbidding not just ferries but even fishing boats from the water, cutting off the livelihood of some people.

Although it is said to be a temporary closure for just over a month, it still affects the livelihood of the people. In theory, even if it’s an imperial order, the civil and military officials are not without power, and such an order shouldn’t have been passed and executed so quickly.

But who made the troublemakers jianghu people?

And the place where the incident happened was the imperial tomb, which was too defiant of the law. Anyone would be furious if their ancestral hall was smashed and graves desecrated. The emperor is the son of heaven; his rage is justified and involves the authority and dignity of the court, so no one dares to object.

“It is said that the notice was posted the night before last, and yesterday the ships gradually started moving downstream, with any not moved being penalized.”

After crossing the Qingjiang, it’s half a day’s journey to Taijing.

If one were to detour, for an ordinary person, it would be like adding two or three days to their journey.

Those with lightness skills wouldn’t worry, but upon reaching Taijing, the court would likely be just detaining, and the Jinyiwei (imperial guards) would start arresting people. Those jianghu people carrying weapons probably wouldn’t even think about entering the city.

Mo Li took a while to respond: “I thought Lu Zhang would go after the Qingcheng Sect or the Chunsan Sect.”

“Not for now, we didn’t know before, but I made a point of asking others just now. The Qingcheng Sect is nearing the territory of King Tianshou, while the Chunsan Sect is approaching the south. Although it is still under the jurisdiction of the Qi dynasty, to deal with such sects would require mobilizing the army.”

The appearance of a large army in those places would look like preparation for war, and the response from the other side would be unpredictable.

Lu Zhang’s subordinates were mostly northerners, and the Qi dynasty’s army was largely composed of northern soldiers. Going south to fight, half of them would suffer from the local climate and conditions.

The situation with King Tianshou was even more complicated; the hearts of the people were won over by the Holy Lotus Altar, and a deep military incursion could lead to cut-off supplies and isolation. The Qi dynasty would have to be fully prepared to suppress any uprising because they would face not only a rebel army but also the local populace.

Yongzhou suffered from drought year after year, and the imperial court likely had no funds for war.

Meng Qi thought about the situation on behalf of the Qi dynasty and found it to be a headache.

Without skilled ministers to govern, the Qi dynasty might not have resolved these issues even in five years.

“What’s going on? Where are the monks from Hengchang Temple?”

“That’s right, didn’t someone see Scholar Mei, the lay practitioner from the Tianshan Sect?”

The jianghu people waiting near the ferry grew more impatient as they waited, complaining loudly. Mo Li then understood they were waiting here for a prominent figure from the martial world to step in and take charge.

“A rabble.”

Meng Qi muttered under his breath, then looked at the river, estimating that his lightness skills would not suffice to cross it.

Crossing the river on a single reed was impossible, and while carrying ten logs, throwing them one by one to leverage his way across the river might work, it would look too foolish.

“Physician, how big is your original form?” Meng Qi suddenly wondered.

Mo Li: “…”


The author has a message to say:

No, no, the next chapter is not about the sand rat riding a fish

————

Sand Rat: Achoo.jpg

There is a sickness, called the Physician thinks you might get sick.

——————

To clarify in this chapter, Mo Li and Meng Qi are different. Mo Li is a Physician, with the self-awareness of a healer, and he has always known he is not human. Therefore, in Mo Li’s eyes, who has no substantial relationship at the moment, the attractiveness of a naked person is negligible.

The instinct for love and desire, that would only be triggered when entwined in dragon form.

Fish 087: ————
Fish 089: Qi Cheng Zong Mountain

How about something to motivate me to continue....

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