Fortunately, it’s not Luo River.
Young Master Jin Feng arrived at the riverbank and heard that the government was not allowing boats to launch. With a grand gesture, he directly ordered his subordinates to purchase boats, offering three times the price.
Paying a hefty sum paves the way, naturally offering a solution. In a nearby fishing village, there were several small wooden boats, each only big enough to accommodate two or three people and without a cover, not the type of sheltered black-awning boats. These boats were very light, easily carried by two strong men.
When the government issued the order, the fishermen panicked, not knowing what had happened. They saw the large boats on the river being driven away and the small ones being burned. Naturally, they were reluctant to part with their boats and took the opportunity to hide some of them in their homes.
Now, with someone willing to pay a high price, they were very tempted. Some, fearing repercussions from the government, dared not admit they had boats at home. But after seeing their fellow villagers return joyously with handfuls of silver, and noticing more and more people gathering at the riverbank, they thought it better to sell than to risk losing them to theft. So, they ran back home and brought out the boats.
The boats were secured, but the problem was not yet solved.
“Can these boats be used?” Young Master Jin Feng looked at the small wooden boats, his gaze filled with skepticism. “Can such wooden boats safely navigate the swift waters of the Qing River? Aren’t these just fishing boats meant for near the shore?”
The subordinates of the Golden Phoenix Manor withstood their young master’s interrogation and said helplessly, “Young Master, it was you who ordered us to buy boats, any boats, insisting that you must see a boat today.”
These subordinates sincerely hoped that Young Master Jin Feng would temper his temper. Although their manor was wealthy and the master skilled in martial arts, and the young master was not unreasonable, when one is in the jianghu (martial world), it’s impossible not to encounter tough situations. Many things turn out differently than expected, and in speaking and acting, one must leave room for maneuver – giving others a way out is also giving oneself a way out.
“Fine, I’ll go check the wind on the river,” Jin Feng said irritably, waving his folding fan and striding towards the riverbank.
The spring wind on the Qing River was strong, and the waves fierce. Young Master Jin Feng, unfamiliar with water, felt increasingly apprehensive at the sight.
People at the ferry crossing were discussing animatedly, “Isn’t there a skilled boatman in the nearby fishing village?”
“Exactly, where are the boatmen who usually man the ferries?”
On any other day, Young Master Jin Feng would have simply thrown money at the problem, securing as many boatmen as needed. What in the world can’t be solved with money? It’s just crossing a river, not like trying to reach the moon. But now, he stood with a solemn face, silent, thinking that going to Taijing was just to see the excitement. Although he was interested in the rumored treasure of Emperor Li’s tomb, the Golden Phoenix Manor was wealthy enough to buy whatever he desired.
Why the rush?
“Launch the boats!” Young Master Jin Feng commanded.
“Go to the nearby fishing village and buy some fish spears, fishing rods, nets, and also a stove with charcoal. We’ll just float near the riverbank in the boats,” said Jin Feng, opening his folding fan leisurely. “It just so happens I’m hungry.”
Everyone was dumbfounded, watching the people from the Golden Phoenix Manor go off to make purchases. Young Master Jin Feng leaned against the side of the boat, comfortably enjoying the breeze, seemingly in no hurry to cross the river.
Facing the agitated and cursing crowd of jianghu (martial world) people, Young Master Jin Feng was indifferent and scoffed coldly, “This young master does whatever he pleases. Right now, I don’t find Taijing appealing at all. I’d rather go to the Jiangnan riverboats to listen to music and eat West Lake vinegar fish! As for the Emperor’s tomb treasure, it hasn’t appeared yet, so what’s the rush?”
The crowd was left speechless and frustrated. First, they were unable to wait for the elders and leaders of the major sects, then they couldn’t cross the river, and just when they finally saw a renowned figure in the jianghu, he was sitting on the boat fishing?
“You think, maybe those people got the message and left us behind?”
“No way, this is the shortest route from Yongzhou to Taijing!”
“What if they’re not going to Taijing? Everyone says the Emperor Li’s Tomb is in the Shangyun Mountain above Taijing, but no one who says this has found the treasure! I think the truth is this: they’ve fooled us who belong to no sect or school and went to get rich first.”
This theory caused everyone to waver, filled with doubt and uncertainty. Meanwhile, the people from the Golden Phoenix Manor, because they had brought many horses and now had no large boat to cross the river, found it too much of a loss to sell these fine horses locally. Therefore, some of them went downstream to find a ferry crossing, a hundred miles away. This was misinterpreted by others, who thought that Emperor Li’s Tomb wasn’t in Taijing, and they followed en masse.
Young Master Jin Feng on the small boat: “…”
Just as he was about to reflect on this with mixed feelings, the boat suddenly shook and spun in place.
Young Master Jin Feng steadied himself, about to scold his subordinates, but then saw the person rowing hurriedly turn back and say, “Young master, look, there’s someone on the river.”
On the vast river, a person’s figure was very small. But once spotted, everyone couldn’t take their eyes off. This person was walking on the river surface, with the wind puffing up their robe sleeves.
Logically, with such strong wind, one’s hair would be blown into a mess, and sleeves might even slap against their face. However, this person managed to maintain their appearance, with hair and clothes only lightly fluttering in the wind, elegantly like an immortal.
Too far to discern this person’s appearance, let alone what kind of clothes they wore. But who would care about that? Walking on the river surface as if on flat land, could martial prowess reach such a level?
Young Master Jin Feng’s fan fell, and he quickly came to his senses, realizing why the boat was spinning in place: like him, the rower was so shocked that they couldn’t hold onto anything.
The same was true for the people on the shore. First, one person saw it, then shouted, drawing more people to look towards the river, their mouths agape, wider than the next. Most of them weren’t as shocked as the people from the Golden Phoenix Manor, because their own abilities were limited, and they had no deep understanding of top martial artists, so they instinctively thought this was a mysterious figure with supreme martial skills.
“The River God has appeared!”
People working by the river knelt down, bowing their heads in reverence. Young Master Jin Feng picked up his fan, stood up, and stared intently at the person’s feet.
Lightness skills can leave no trace on snow, but floating on grass and water is just an expression, as it implies movement so fast it appears like flying.
Crossing a river usually kicks up large splashes of water, and once the energy is exhausted, one falls into the water.
But this person walked unhurriedly, with an extraordinary bearing, truly like the immortals the common people were shouting about.
The wind on the Qingjiang River was strong and the waves rough. Meng Qi’s boots were completely soaked, but he kept walking forward without shifting his gaze or lowering his head. A piece of wood the size of half a door panel bobbed up and down in the waves.
Meng Qi appeared to be walking slowly, but that was not the case. His skill lay in stepping on the water without causing big splashes, and his upper body remained in the same position. Being some distance from the shore, others couldn’t see his trick.
Meng Qi would step on the wooden board for leverage before his breath ran out. At that moment, the board would sink heavily and then drift with the current.
Just then, a black carp emerged from the river, swiftly hitting the board towards the opposite shore. Without the fish, Meng Qi reckoned he could only “walk” downstream with the current, abandoning any thoughts of crossing the river.
The black-scaled fish swam swiftly in the water. The Qingjiang River was spirited, and it had been a long time since the fish had swum so freely. Even the most composed would reveal some of their nature when entering the water.
Meng Qi squinted at the black shadow darting through the waves. The physician’s true form was smaller than he had imagined. To the fishermen, it would be considered a large fish, as thick as an arm, agile and strong, with scales so bright they could almost reflect one’s image.
People would just exclaim in surprise and call others to see it if they encountered it in the water, not mistaking the fish for a monster. It looked like a common carp, even in size and shape.
However, the strength of this fish was incredibly surprising.
It didn’t need to hit or push the board with its tail; the waves it created by swimming swiftly were enough to momentarily change the direction of the drifting board. In this river with strong currents, everything from small boards to large ships was pushed downstream. Operating a ferry against the current required skill and strength, something not every boatman could handle. For a fish, not being carried away by the current was an achievement.
Meng Qi gained newfound respect for the physician, unaware that in his true form, he was no ordinary sand rat – ordinary sand rats couldn’t run as fast or be as agile as Meng Qi.
The black carp, too, was unaware of its own talent. The pool it was “born” in was too small. Although there were many streams in Qimao Mountain, the deepest parts weren’t enough to drown a person, and the rivers weren’t wider than ten meters. There were no large lakes, only ponds formed by melting snow. In such confined spaces, the fish couldn’t swim fast enough to discover its potential.
As the black carp swam and pondered, it realized that if its strength had been insufficient, it would have perished when washed away by the mountain flood years ago. It only survived because it struggled against the torrent, transforming into human form and clinging to a tree. The current of Qingjiang River was nothing compared to the burst of a mountain torrent.
The black carp watched Meng Qi in the water, admitting that even though some people cautiously crossed the river on wooden boards with their luggage, they couldn’t match the transcendent and independent demeanor of Meng Qi.
Resigned, the fish blew a bubble in the water.
The black carp was persuaded by Meng Qi, precisely because of Meng Qi’s capabilities. After all, rumors were just rumors. Even if the real Meng Qi appeared, others would assume he was an impostor. Meng Qi decided to perform a feat in full view of everyone, something no one else could imitate.
Now in the middle of the river, the black carp suddenly sensed a vast spiritual energy. It leaped out of the water and looked towards the north, in the direction of Taijing.
Meng Qi also lifted his head at the same time, gazing deeply at the distant mountain ranges. “I feel the spiritual energy, a particularly marvelous sensation,” Meng Qi said, clenching his fingers, his expression inscrutable. The earth’s energy and the spiritual energy were resonating with each other, a sensation that belonged to him.