Half an incense stick’s time later, Ling Ji looked at Meng Qi, completely bewildered.
Meng Qi loosened her grip, letting the thin longsword float beside her. She looked composed, calm, and not the least bit perturbed. Everyone had different talents, and it just happened that she had no hope of becoming a master swordsman. “How about it?” Meng Qi tilted her head slightly, leisurely enough to crack a joke, “Was my talent in swordsmanship astonishing to you?”
“Um… cough, cough…” When Ling Ji faced Yan Shunbei in Jingyuetian, he had the demeanor of a lofty powerhouse, profound and unfathomable. Now, however, he seemed much more relaxed: “The sword, you held it quite steadily.” He commented, “And you have an excellent memory, you remembered the sword technique after being taught once…”
Except that she just couldn’t execute it, that’s it.
“Hmm…” After thinking for a bit, Ling Ji earnestly added, “The most important point is your mindset, calm and composed. Cultivators need such a temperament; you sure will have a limitless future.”
Meng Qi couldn’t help but laugh softly: “Thank you for your efforts, Sect Leader Ling.” Everyone likes to hear praise, and she was no different. To be honest, when she was in the Apricot Forest barrier, Ji Wujiong’s undisguised astonishment and determination to take her as a disciple made her a bit happy.
Now, seeing someone as formidable as Ling Ji trying so hard to find something to praise about her was rather amusing. But liking praise is one thing; knowing one’s strengths and weaknesses is what’s most important.
“You’re welcome,” Ling Ji murmured, gazing at Meng Qi. The girl, while not stunningly beautiful, had an elegant look combined with a calm demeanor that was quite pleasing to the eyes.
“If Sect Leader Ling has nothing else, I should take my leave,” Meng Qi said, bowing to Ling Ji before turning to leave.
“Wait,” Ling Ji quickly called out to her. Just a few moments before, he had boasted how Meng Qi would soon know what her true talent was and why he sought her out. The way things had developed, unfortunately, was completely different from what he had imagined, and for a moment, he was left befuddled.
Meng Qi stopped and turned around, looking curiously at the older man.
“You…” Ling Ji hesitated for a moment, “Aren’t you curious why I came to find you?”
“Um…” Meng Qi felt somewhat helpless. Why did both people she met today like to talk in riddles? Couldn’t they just go to the point?
“A little,” she honestly replied, “I know Duankong Sect has been looking for me, but I assume Sect Leader Ling, having agreed to the bet with Sect Leader Yan, wouldn’t take action against me before I enter Ten Absolutes Mountain.”
“You’re correct,” Ling Ji nodded. He fell silent for a moment, then said, “I wasn’t originally the sect leader of Duankong Sect; it’s only recently I took the seat.”
“…” Meng Qi didn’t respond, and just quietly waited for Ling Ji’s next words.
“In the past…” Ling Ji paused again, then continued after a moment of silence, “I used to think that being free and unrestrained was quite nice.” His hand hanging by his side slowly clenched into a fist, and when he met Meng Qi’s clear gaze, he suddenly sighed lightly. “Well…” Ling Ji waved his hand, “Let’s save the rest after you return from Ten Absolutes Mountain.”
“I…” He glanced at Meng Qi again, “will leave first.”
Leaving the puzzled Meng Qi behind, Ling Ji turned around and left. As his figure disappeared, the thin mist also dispersed. Meng Qi stood in silence for a while before turning to walk back the way she came. There she found Yan Xuan, still waiting in the same spot, unsurprised to see her return.
The two resumed their interrupted path and continued walking towards Jingyuetian’s building. After a few steps, Yan Xuan suddenly asked, “What did he want from you?”
“To see if I have any talent in swordsmanship,” Meng Qi muttered.
“Do you?” He inquired.
“No,” she shook her head.
“Hey!” Yan Xuan suddenly spoke up, “Have you ever noticed that you and he look a bit alike?”
“Eh?” Meng Qi was taken aback.
“Your eyes and eyebrows, they really resemble his,” Yan Xuan frowned slightly as he recalled, “And the nose, too…”
Meng Qi: “???”
No, wait — what kind of melodramatic development is this?
Meng Qi seriously recalled her past. She had no father, only an adopted mother, a widowed woman from Qingfeng Town. Although the family of two lived in poverty, her adopted mother was a very capable and hardworking person. Their home, though small, was always warm and comforting. As a child, Meng Qi always thought she was her real mother because of the immense love and care she received. However, when she was ten, her adopted mother fell gravely ill and revealed on her deathbed that Meng Qi was found in the forests of Qingfeng Valley. The small bundle she was found in was embroidered with the character ‘Qi’. Her adopted mother’s surname was Meng, hence she was named Meng Qi.
In her final days, her adopted mother mustered the strength to take Meng Qi to the place where she was found. It was below a cliff, an unremarkable place, but deep in the forest and seldom visited. Her adopted mother had gone there to pick herbs to exchange for medicine at Qingfeng Valley, a common practice among the residents of Qingfeng Town.
If her adopted mother hadn’t passed by there, Meng Qi, then just a baby, might have died silently in the forest.
Later, after passing entrance tests, Meng Qi officially joined Qingfeng Valley and became a medical cultivator. There were talented seniors like Lu Qingran in the sect, as well as other disciples whose parents were ordinary cultivators. Meng Qi had never thought about finding her biological parents, believing that if they had abandoned her, then they better have nothing to do with each other.
In her previous life, Meng Qi never knew who her biological parents were and never mentioned this matter to anyone.
No, actually… she had mentioned it once, with Yun Qingyan. During their long journey, the two of them often spent evenings leisurely together. Meng Qi would cook some simple dishes, and Yun Qingyan would pour them a few cups of wine. Meng Qi didn’t drink much and her memory became hazy under the influence of alcohol, but she barely remembered that one evening, after having a couple of cups with Yun Qingyan, she became more talkative and mentioned the biological parents whom she had never met.
Meng Qi couldn’t remember what else she said later. Her thoughts, which had drifted away, quickly settled down.
It couldn’t really be that melodramatic, could it?
Meng Qi found the idea silly, but if it were true, it would explain Ling Ji’s strange behavior.
“What are you thinking about?” Yan Xuan asked, getting a bit impatient seeing her silent for so long.
“Nothing much,” Meng Qi replied calmly, “It’s probably not the case.” She shrugged with a rare cunning smile: “My cultivation talent is exceptionally poor, and my talent for swordsmanship is even worse…” She searched for the words, “Disastrously bad!”
“I think I’ve just shocked Sect Leader Ling so much that he turned around and left.” She added.
Yan Xuan: “…”
“What we should think about now is the Ten Absolutes Mountains,” Meng Qi reiterated, “Don’t let these irrelevant matters distract us.”
A sudden bombshell plot, eh?
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