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Shen Mu – Volume 2 Chapter 2

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Volume 2 Chapter 2: Eccentrics

After Chen Nan moved into the Residence of Eccentrics, he began researching his own ancestral profound skill. Now that his six senses were in peak condition and his spiritual awareness had returned, he regained his self-confidence that he formerly had when he was sixteen years old. He had faith that he’d be able to become exceptionally powerful within the shortest amount of time possible.

In the few days since the murky, pale yellow vital qi left behind within his body by Fairy Tantai had been eliminated, his cultivation progressed a thousand li each day.

Chen Nan did an internal inspection and discovered that the quality of his vital qi had changed. Its colour was even richer than before, and its circulation was even more smooth and unhindered. At the same time, he found that its aura outside his body was even fainter than before, nearly almost impossible for others to observe it. This all made him jubilant. Even exceptional experts who inspected him with scrutiny would find it hard to discover his profound consummate skill.

Chen Nan concentrated his power at his fingertips. Specks the size of a breadth of hair suddenly appeared. He was excited. He was already capable of transforming his vital qi into sword qi and distribute it densely on his body’s surface. His ancestral profound skill finally re-entered the second Chongtian of his Mahayana.

A golden light radiated all around his fingers, making them appear as sparkling and lustrous as jade. He stretched out two of his fingers and lightly placed a longsword in between them. With a bang, the longsword forged from highly perfected steel essence unexpectedly snapped into two pieces, falling to the floor.

Chen Nan was wild with joy. His power finally returned to the peak condition that it had previously been before Tantai Xuan had schemed against him. Furthermore, he sensed a breakthrough could occur at any moment. He’d finally be able to enter the third Chongtian in his ancestral profound skill.

He regained his self-confidence. The blood in his body was boiling. In time, it seemed like he’d be able to produce a several zhang long blade of bright vital qi. Then, he’d be able to move unrestrained under heaven.

“Daoists, magi… I want you guys to experience a martial artist whose cultivation reaches a profound level…”

A tremendous explosion echoed throughout the Residence of Eccentrics. Immediately after, the whole place began to sway. Chen Nan promptly ran out into his yard. His neighbour’s courtyard was surrounded by an aqua blue canopy of light. The sound of the explosion had come from that exact place. If that aqua blue magical screen hadn’t been there, then it’s hard to say whether his own courtyard would have been excused.

“Seriously? A mad, destructive magus that has a passion for chaos actually lives next door? F*ck!”

The magical screen gradually dissipated. The courtyard that it had surrounded had already been transformed into a pile of rubble. A small, withered old woman, scorched black from head to toe, hovered in midair. She coarsely laughed, “Gaga~! Although it’s another failure, I’m only a single step away from success. Gaga~!”

Chen Nan sighed inwardly. “Damn, she’s basically an old witch!”

“Gaga, I haven’t seen you before, boy. Little guy, are you new?” The Old Witch used a wind element magical technique to float over to Chen Nan’s courtyard.

“Yes,” Chen Nan forced himself to respond.

Just then, a large cry came from the other side of Chen Nan’s courtyard: “Xiao Hua, don’t run~!”

A big python with brocade scales and the girth of a bucket appeared on the wall of Chen Nan’s courtyard. Soon after, an elderly man with a white beard leapt on top of the wall as well. He patted the python’s head, saying, “Xiao Hua, don’t be scared. Don’t run around all willy-nilly. Hurry and return to the courtyard.”

The big python seemed to understand what the old man was saying and slowly slithered back.

Chen Nan was wide-eyed and slack-jawed. He pitifully shouted in his mind, “Seriously, I’m his neighbour too…? Damn!”

The old man noticed the Old Witch in the air and furiously said, “You damn old woman, you keep wrecking the place. You scared my Xiao Hua into running all over. From dawn to dusk, you can’t keep quiet for even an instant!”

“Gaga~! Old Poison Devil, I never came close to your courtyard. I was carrying out magical research in my own courtyard. It doesn’t have a goddamn thing to do with you!”

“You agitated my Xiao Hua, Xiao Lu, Xiao Jin… You crazy lady, you must have nothing to do all day long! All you know is destruction.”

“Old Poison Devil, you have insulted my dignity and have tarnished my great magical research project. I need to punish you. Ah~! You actually dare poison me… Lightning Ripple!”

The Old Witch descended from midair. Chen Nan’s heart instantly became pained. Not because he cared for the Old Witch, but because she had landed on his flower garden that he had loved so dearly.

Meanwhile, the old man standing on top of his courtyard’s wall was struck by lightning. His hair and beard all stood on end, every strand erect. He fell head first into Chen Nan’s courtyard. His entire body was scorched black and he emitted a wisp of greenish black smoke. A faint smell of cooked meat flooded the area.

“Old Poison Devil, hurry and give me the antidote or else I’ll thoroughly electrocute you. Tonight, I’ll eat your roasted spare ribs.”

“Damn old woman, you even burnt the antidote into ashes, so how can I give it to you? You best heal me so I can hurry and make up the antidote for you.”

Chen Nan stood in his courtyard, looking left and looking right. He wasn’t sure which direction was the best.

Spittle frothed from the Old Witch’s mouth. Her eyes rolled back into her head. The Old Poison Devil was in even more unbearable pain. He was baring his teeth in agony, groaning.

Chen Nan said, “Would you two seniors please yield a bit. If you continue like this, you’ll both lose your lives.”

The Old Witch gasped for air. “Fine. Old Poison Devil, I’ll turn half of your roasted ribs into raw ribs. As for the other half, I’ll wait for you to concoct the antidote before discussing it further.”

“Then hurry up.”

A gentle white light surrounded the Old Poison Devil’s body. In a just a short moment of time, his condition improved by a half. He wobbly stood up.

Chen Nan said, “Senior, I’ll open the gate for you. Be careful.”

“No, I can’t leave through the gate, that way is too slow. If we delay even a moment, that damn old woman will breathe her last breath. Help me climb the wall. I’ll go back that way instead.”

Chen Nan quickly ran over to him and helped him climb up onto the wall. After that, he feigned weakness in martial arts and also climbed up. When he reached the top of the wall, he looked down and almost fainted.

The old man had dug ten or so holes of all sizes into the ground of his courtyard. A hole for centipedes, a hole for scorpions, a hole for toads, a hole for vipers… Every hole was densely packed full of wiggling and squirming action. Furthermore, there wasn’t a hole without an assortment of medicinal herbs growing in it. A few relatively distinctive snakes and other similar creatures slithered around those medicinal herbs. For example, a golden centipede over one chi long, a python with brocade scales and the girth of a bucket…

The old man said, “Little brother, go down first so you can catch me.”

“No no no…” Chen Nan shook his head like a rattle-drum. Even if he were threatened with death, he wouldn’t go down there.

In the end, Chen Nan used both of his hands to grip the old man’s wrist to lower him down.

A dark green spider the size of a hand suddenly appeared on top of the wall. With just a glance, it was obvious that it was a highly toxic creature. Chen Nan instantly tensed up and relaxed his hands. The old man fell down with a plop.

“Ah~! Damn…” the old man cried out repeatedly.

Chen Nan nervously asked, “Senior, are you okay?”

“Damn… damn…”

“What happened? Where did you fall?”

Underneath the old man’s body was an exuberant patch of medicinal herbs. After getting off the medicinal herbs, a toad the size of a millstone could be seen.

“Crap… my Xiao Lu has been squished dizzy.”

“Fainting! It’s the toad that he loves so dearly!” Chen Nan leapt from atop of the wall back into his own courtyard.

“That’s seriously dreadful. Holy f*ck… A toad can actually be as large as a fat pig.”

After about the time it takes to drink half a cup of tea, the Old Poison Devil threw over the wall a porcelain bottle the size of a hand. “Get the stuff inside and pour it into that damned great-grandmother’s mouth.”

After Chen Nan took off the cork, he almost lost consciousness. Its smell was unbearably foul. He seriously doubted that it was the antidote. Even if it was, it most likely had some of that old fellow’s own ‘seasoning’ mixed in with it.

After pouring the fishy and foul liquid medicine into the Old Witch’s mouth, the Old Witch’s eyes rolled and she sat up. But she threw up right after.

“Ou… God dammit, what the hell did that damn old guy give me to drink?”

Just then, the Old Poison Devil pushed open Chen Nan’s courtyard gate and hobbled inside.

The Old Witch promptly rose into the air. She also put up her magical protective screen.

“Old Poison Devil, you actually gave such foul-smelling medicine for me to drink, yet you still dare to drop in for a visit, gaga~!” The Old Witch’s fingers crackled and rattled. Electric sparks began flashing about.

The Old Poison Devil was so scared he was trembling. Now that the Old Witch’s entire body was protected behind her magical screen, his poison techniques were simply useless.

“Hey, damn old woman, be reasonable. Don’t you know that good medicine tastes bitter and is beneficial for your ailments? Naturally that antidote was the real deal.”

“Utter rubbish. Do antidotes have that kind of fishy smell? Ou…” When she arrived at that point, the Old Witch threw up again. Meanwhile, a fine streak of lightning struck the Old Poison Devil.

The old fellow’s white hair once again stood erect like a lion’s mane. With much difficulty, he could still stand on his two feet, but all four of his limbs were twitching.

“Damn old woman, you’re capricious. Like a savage that doesn’t know an ounce of reason. You went back on your word. I saved you properly, yet you’re returning kindness with hatred.”

“Gaga~! If you hadn’t launched a sneak attack on me first, then how could I have gotten poisoned? You’re guilty and deserve to be punished.”

“Nonsense. Even if I didn’t attack first, you still would have used your magic against me. I merely struck first to gain the upper hand.”

The two of them continued to argue like this, but the Old Poison Devil was clearly lacking in confidence. He knew that under normal circumstances, he’d be unable to compete with that Old Witch under any conditions.

At the side, Chen Nan couldn’t watch this continue. He opened his mouth and said, “This… Two seniors, I feel that harmony is most precious. You need not injure the peace.”

The Old Poison Devil said, “I don’t care. So long as the burns on my body get healed, everything will be fine.”

Chen Nan also said, “Senior, you had better quickly heal this uncle’s injuries. Otherwise, others will start to think that we’re having a barbecue in the yard.”

“Gaga~!” the Old Witch gave a hearty cackle. “Alright. Seeing your expression, I’ll pardon him this once. Right, boy, what’s your name?”

“Junior is called Chen Nan.”

“Gaga~! I’ll bear that in mind.”

Soon after, the Old Witch read aloud a long incantation. A holy radiance accumulated on the Old Poison Devil’s body. His flesh that was severely cauterized gradually recovered its vitality. When the light dissipated, the old fellow had recovered his appearance of a lively dragon or an energetic tiger. There was not a trace of dispiritedness on his face.

Chen Nan secretly praised, “Magic really does have its own merits.”

After using the advanced recovery spell, a hint of exhaustion appeared on the Old Witch’s face. She said to Chen Nan, “Boy, you aren’t too bad. If you ever find yourself being bullied, you can always come find me. I’ll help you vent your anger.” With that said, she shot a ferocious glance at the Old Poison Devil.

The Old Poison Devil also chimed in, “Lad, I also think you’re not bad. Feel at ease. With me here, no one will dare bully you. Even if that bastard is powerful, doesn’t he still need to eat and drink? Heihei, I don’t believe that he can avoid my poison every time.” With that said, the old fellow also shot a glance back at the Old Witch.

“Hmph!”

The Old Witch gave a cold humph and then flew away.

Chen Nan said, “The courtyard of this senior who researches magic has already been obliterated, she probably won’t continue living here.”

The Old Poison Devil explained, “Of course. This damn old woman likes to live it up, how could she still stay here?”

Chen Nan was simply ecstatic. The Old Witch’s frightening destructive power was to be kept far away from him. If this Old Poison Devil were to also leave, then his personal safety would be even more ensured.

“Eh? Where did that senior run off to?”

“Into your backyard.”

Putong!

“Ai, youngster, why are you sitting on the ground for no reason?”

“Uncle, your snakes and bugs won’t crawl over to my courtyard, right?”

“Generally, no.”

Chen Nan modestly asked, “What do you mean generally…?”

The Old Poison Devil earnestly thought for a moment and then said, “En! If there isn’t too much noise, my darlings won’t run around. Generally speaking, as long as that damn old woman stops her magical research, then it’s alright.”

“Then how often does she conduct her magical research?”

“More or less once a day.”

Putong!

“Ai! Youngster, are you sure you’re not feeling unwell? Why have you fallen onto the ground again? Let me see whether I need to bring you some elixirs. En, Decaying Corpse Poison, Red-Crowned Crane Skull Extract, Heartbroken Grass… Aiyah, these won’t do. Oh well, I still have Bone Transforming Pellets, Seven Step Soul Breaking Powder…”

Sou!

In the blink of an eye, Chen Nan vanished from the courtyard back into his house.

“Young people these days really don’t have any patience. I’m sure there’s some kind of medicine that’s suited for you. If not, I’ll go looking for some for you next time.” The Old Poison Devil leapt over the wall back into his own yard.

Chen Nan sighed, “No wonder this place is called the Residence of Eccentrics. The two people that I just met are simply ‘strange’ to an extreme point.”

After five days of living in the Residence of Eccentrics, a young lady came to pay him a visit. Although this woman didn’t have the devastating beauty of Chu Yue, she was still exceptionally attractive. She emanated a faint enlightened temperament, giving one a sense of tranquility.

“Hello, Chen-gongzi.”

“Hello. You are…?”

“I’m called Nalan Ruoshui. I’m also a member of the Residence of Eccentrics.”

“Hello Nalan-xiaojie. Thanks for visiting, please, come inside.”

After arriving inside the house, Nalan Ruoshui said, “I’ve heard the Eldest Princess say your power had been exhausted and has disappeared. I’ve somewhat studied the art of healing. I wish to try my hand in this aspect and see whether or not I can restore your power.”

Chen Nan was completely startled. He didn’t think the pretty girl before him was actually a national medical expert. He was under the impression that all famous doctors were old men with white hair and beards, yet the woman in front of him was so youthful.

“You want to help me restore my power?”

Nalan Ruoshui was extraordinarily serene. “Yes, that’s right.”

“But my power has already been crippled by someone; there really aren’t any medical techniques that can resolve it.”

“I can give it a try. By way of acupuncture and moxibustion, I’ll excite your whole body’s acupoints and rouse your body’s hidden capability. According to the theory, it may help you recover your power.”

Chen Nan decided to keep the fact that his power was already restored a secret after all. He smiled. “Then I’ll have to thank you, Nalan-xiaojie.”

Nalan Ruoshui indifferently replied, “Don’t mention it.”

From her sleeve, she drew out a small jade case. Inside it was filled with acupuncture needles. The jade case and the acupuncture needles shone brilliantly as one.

“Chen-gongzi, please take off your outer clothing.”

Following her order, Chen Nan threw off his spacious outer clothing, exposing his skin-tight inner clothes.

“Please take off all the clothes above your waistline.”

“This…” An exceptionally beautiful woman was looking at him as if he were goods, giving him a sense of embarrassment. But nevertheless, he followed her orders and removed the clothes on his upper body.

With the jade case in her hands, Nalan Ruoshui softly walked over to him. A faint, delicate fragrance wafted to Chen Nan’s nostrils causing his heart to stir.

“Has Chen-gongzi felt anything unwell in his body for the past several days?”

“Other than losing my power, I haven’t felt anything amiss.”

“Oh, well that’s good.”

Sensing the intoxicating, delicate fragrance almost within reach, Chen Nan was enchanted. Nalan Ruoshui seemed to notice the peculiar look in his eyes. With her slender jade fingers, she nipped an acupuncture needle and quickly stuck it into a major acupoint on his chest.

“Ah~!” Chen Nan miserably shrieked.

Nalan Ruoshui’s expression remained undisturbed, as if nothing had happened. She took out a second acupuncture needle and quickly and accurately inserted it into another major acupoint.

Chen Nan gave out another miserable scream. He muttered in his heart, “Acupuncture and moxibustion shouldn’t be very painful. Could she be deliberately using more power than necessary?”

As expected, the third needle and after weren’t nearly as painful as the first two.

Chen Nan said to himself, “This beautiful doctor’s temper is really great!”

In a short period of time, Chen Nan’s upper body was completely covered in acupuncture needles. At the moment, the vital qi within his body was beginning to stir, but he forcefully dispelled it within his meridian channels.

Nalan Ruoshui spread her slender jade fingers and began massaging the areas around where the needles were inserted. Bursts of heat came from her fingers and transmitted into Chen Nan’s body.

Chen Nan discovered that Nalan Ruoshui actually possessed some of her own genuine power. The vital qi that was being released from her fingers unceasingly excited his acupoints, causing him to sense the vital qi that was resting within his body to once again become lively.

“Meditate! Meditate!” he continuously reminded himself. Once again, his excited vital qi calmed.

In this way, the treatment lasted an hour. Chen Nan was already covered in profuse sweat. Nalan Ruoshui’s face was also scarlet. Her breathing was slightly staggered.

Seeing the lithe body with curves up and down in front of him, Chen Nan’s mind filled with those sorts of thoughts. A scowl flashed through her eyes in response. She indifferently said, “Chen-gongzi, if you wish to recover your power, then please immediately begin meditating. Work your former cultivation technique.”

Chen Nan shut his eyes and slowly regulated his vital qi, willing it to slowly move. He already felt that, after undergoing the acupuncture and moxibustion, all the acupoints along his meridian channels were incomparably comfortable and unrestrained. He naturally wouldn’t give up this opportunity to cultivate his ancestral profound skill, but he could only slowly move his vital qi. He didn’t dare to cause any large motions. Otherwise, Nalan Ruoshui would be able to detect it.

After an hour of slowly circulating it, he sensed that his vital qi had strengthened a bit. His power had somewhat progressed. When he opened his eyes, he found Nalan Ruoshui undisturbed, watching him attentively.

“How is it? Do you feel vital qi circulating within your meridian channels?”

“I don’t.”

“Not even a bit?”

Chen Nan shook his head.

Nalan Ruoshui thought for a moment. “This… En, we probably wasted a little too much time. Oh well, we’ll continue tomorrow. I believe that after being treated in this way for a while, your power will be restored.”

“Then many thanks, Nalan-xiaojie.”

Nalan Ruoshui plucked each and every one of the acupuncture needles out of his body, returning them to the jade case.

Watching her beautiful figure gradually fade into the distance, Chen Nan returned to his courtyard.

Although Nalan Ruoshui was an absolutely beautiful woman, she had an indifferent, enlightened temperament. That sort of still, enlightened temperament enticed others.

Chen Nan said to himself, “A beautiful doctor, indifferent and enlightened. To already become an eccentric in the field of medicine this young, she’s seriously a genius!”

“Boy, what are you wantonly smiling about?” The Old Poison Devil’s white head poked out from behind the wall. On his shoulders was a big dark green spider.

“Nothing…”

“You still tell me nothing? You were already drooling.”

“Fainting to the floor!” Chen Nan was helpless.

“What did I see wrong? Tell me the truth. Did you make up some naughty plan to get with some young lady?” The Old Poison Devil had the look of a shameless elder.

“Uncle, were you there peeping the whole time?”

“What peeping? I was just kind of curious, that’s all. I wasn’t careful and overheard you, and watched.”

“You weren’t careful?” Chen Nan was speechless.

“Yes. Right. boy, how did you lose your power? Also, what is it that you can do? Why are you staying in the Residence of Eccentrics?”

“Well…”

The Old Poison Devil said, “Don’t worry, there are no secrets among the eccentrics of the Residence of Eccentrics. Otherwise, the Eldest Princess wouldn’t feel at ease to have you stay here. Each and every person here has vowed loyalty and devotion to the Empire of Chu. No one here will expose the secrets regarding this place.”

Chen Nan thought for a moment. It did seem to be like this. He truthfully replied, “I can draw back Houyi Bow.”

“What?! Aiyah!” The Old Poison Devil was so alarmed that he fell off the wall, but in a second, he again emerged in Chen Nan’s courtyard.

“I didn’t mishear, right? You can draw back the sealed Houyi Bow? Holy shit. No wonder you can live here while you’re still so young. You’re seriously a national treasure!” The old man made a big fuss in admiration.

Seeing the Old Poison Devil jumping about, Chen Nan didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.

After a while, the old fellow calmed down and asked, “Boy, how did you lose your power?”

“This is a long story. If I have the time, I’ll tell you.”

“It doesn’t matter, just tell me it briefly. I really want to know.” The Old Poison Devil looked like a curious baby.

“In simple terms… En, well… A demon crippled it.”

The Old Poison Devil asked, “That’s it?”

Chen Nan said, “That’s it.”

“I-isn’t this too simple?”

“Well you wanted it to be simple.”

The Old Poison Devil said, “Well then tell me what happened in complicated terms.”

“…”

At that moment, the sound of a huge explosion erupted from behind Chen Nan’s courtyard. The Old Poison Devil screamed, “F*ck, that destructive bitch… My darlings were definitely startled by that.” With that said, he hastily leapt back into his own yard.

Chen Nan let out a breath of air. After returning to his house, he immediately sat down to meditate. All the vital qi within his body began frantically bubbling and surging about. Dazzling golden light suffused in abundance from his body. His entire body was enveloped by the golden radiance.

After about an hour, the golden light around Chen Nan’s body finally began to disperse, fading from his body’s surface. He suddenly jumped up. The vital qi in his body was turbulently surging. Facing upwards, he let out a long hiss.

Nalan Ruoshui’s medical expertise was truly excellent. After undergoing her acupuncture and moxibustion, in addition to that frantic urge to circulate the vital qi within his body, at present, his state of mind was cool and relaxed. His power had once again made great progress.

He suppressed the urge to howl at the sky and ran out into his courtyard, where he delivered a fist to the ground.

Honglonglong!

The entire yard immediately shook. The bamboo forest in his yard was wildly swaying, covering the ground with foliage. With him at the center, an enormous crack appeared on the ground.

The Old Poison Devil next door could be heard yelling, “God damn! That damn old woman still hasn’t finished her shit! Next time, I’ll definitely poison her so that she’s stuck in bed for at least three months. Xiao Bai, don’t run…”

Chen Nan’s hands emanated resplendent sword qi. The golden cutting edge of his strike had struck the dust and sand on the ground into the air. Shortly, the fissure in the ground was filled in again by the sand. He was exceptionally excited. His ancestral profound skill finally broke through the confines of the second Chongtian. He finally stepped into the third Chongtian. The heroic feeling of ten thousand zhang—the feeling of unrelenting gallantry—swelled in his heart.


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