Chapter 999 – Kings Meet
“Indeed,” Mo Wuhan answered indifferently. He gazed at Li Qingshan with his pupilless eyes. “Have we met before?”
His eyes did not have irises, but they were not deathly-white like a blind man’s. Instead, they were more like the blank-white of a painting. They contained a boundless space within, reflecting everything in the world.
Li Qingshan suddenly felt naked in the world of snow and ice as if he could not hide away. The blank-white eyes passed through his body and soul as if they were searching for something. He began to circulate the Spirit Turtle’s Method of Sea Suppression almost instinctively before finally being able to get rid of that feeling. He smiled. “Probably not, or I’ll definitely have quite the impression of you!”
Li Qingshan had a guess, but he was not certain about it yet. After all, the guess was far too startling. How could it be so coincidental? And it really did not feel that way too.
“Probably,” said Mo Wuhen.
Before he knew it, the crane cries and zither thrums had stopped. There was only the rustling of snow. The two men faced one another, trying to verify a certain doubt that they both had. Although they found this doubt to be quite unbelievable, they could sense an extremely subtle connection between them.
The thread of fate that had once snapped in the past began to tangle together again.
“My master has spent many years as a recluse, so there’s nothing strange about not knowing him, Qingshan.”
Chu Danqing sensed the peculiar atmosphere, mediating between them as he took the red umbrella from Mo Wuhen’s hand, inviting him into the pavilion.
“Fellow Mo, you’ve heard about my name before?’ Li Qingshan returned to his seat. Before he knew it, he no longer referred to him as a senior.
“Li Qingshan. It’s a good name.” Mo Wuhen sat down as well. His long hem and sleeves draped down, and his hair almost touched the ground.
“Qingshan, I’ve mentioned plenty about you to master!” Chu Danqing did his best to ease up the tension.
“I quite like this name too. Must you be buried in your place of home? Sufficient are the green mountains overgrown,” Li Qingshan recited slowly.
“A fine poem.” Mo Wuhen seemed to be slightly surprised.
“Qingshan, I didn’t even know that! So that’s where your name came from!” Chu Danqing said.
“I wonder which poem ‘Wuhen’ comes from?” Li Qingshan fiddled around with the alcohol cup.
“It’s just a mere name. It’s no reference to any poems!” Mo Wuhen said.
“Truly a pity then,” Li Qingshan shook his head with a gentle sigh. Was it really just a mere name, or was it a fake name?
Suddenly, he said, “It does make me think of a poem. People write to and fro like autumn geese, but matters between them leave no trace, like spring dreams.”
“People write to and fro like autumn geese, but matters between them leave no trace, like spring dreams,” Mo Wuhen repeated slowly as if he was enraptured by the poem.
“Qingshan, after all these years, not only has your cultivation progressed dramatically, but you’ve even become a great poet. I’ve failed to notice that.”
Chu Danqing was surprised. In his memory, Li Qingshan and the word “elegance” were completely unrelated, so why had he suddenly changed today? His master was behaving a little differently too.
“Don’t forget, I’m a disciple of the school of Novels.” Li Qingshan smiled. He said to Mo Wuhen, “I haven’t prepared any gifts for our first meeting, so please accept this poem instead, fellow. That way, at least I haven’t drunk the Alcohol of Vermillion and Black for free!”
“Your gift sure has a refined taste to it.” Chu Danqing smiled, but Mo Wuhen said, “I won’t accept it!” It made Chu Danqing’s face stiffen, gazing at Li Qingshan in worry.
“How come?” Li Qingshan was not angered or surprised. He only sipped the alcohol slowly.
“It’s a fine poem, but the theme is wrong. There are neither autumn geese or spring dreams right now.” Mo Wuhen gazed at the snow outside the pavilion.
“Fair enough.” Li Qingshan strolled to the side of the pavilion and gave it some thought. “How about this one? Among the mountains are no birds in flight, on the paths are no footprints in sight. Alone, an old man in thatching sits afloat, fishing in the snowy river from his boat.”
“A fine poem!” Chu Danqing praised it excitedly. “Qingshan, I didn’t know you had such literary talent!”
“You’re too kind!” Li Qingshan smiled.
“The theme is right, but it has nothing to do with ‘Wuhen’.”
After a moment of silence, Mo Wuhen spoke up to reject it again, leaving Chu Danqing perplexed. He wondered why his master had suddenly become so picky as if he was going out of his way to make things difficult for Li Qingshan.
“It has never been traceless. What you say in the past, what you do in the past, will always leave behind a trace. Even those matters that you think you’ve already erased might just leap out at you again some day,” Li Qingshan said mysteriously.
“If I can erase it once, then I can erase it twice. It’s not that important.” Mo Wuhen changed the topic. “You do happen to possess a gift that I’m interested in. I just wonder whether you’re willing to part with it.”
“What would you like, fellow? Feel free to mention it!” Li Qingshan spread his arms.
“The Three Absolutes Calligraphy.”
Li Qingshan’s eyes flashed. He could not help but look at Chu Danqing.
“I’m sorry, Qingshan. Master asked about it when he treated my injuries…” Chu Danqing said apologetically.
In the past, when he encountered Mo Wuhen, he had yet to completely recover from the wounds left behind from repairing the Three Absolutes Calligraphy. Not only had Mo Wuhen treated his injuries, but he even demonstrated extraordinary painting technique, which was why he made up his mind about taking him on as his master.
“It’s fine. It’s all insignificant.”
Li Qingshan was unconcerned. Chu Danqing and he were only friends, which was below a master-disciple relationship. Chu Danqing had always honoured his master too, so he obviously would not lie to his own master. Even the Asura Field in his possession had been exposed, so he did not care about this measly Three Absolutes Calligraphy.
“But unfortunately, I don’t have the Three Absolutes Calligraphy on me. I would not give it away if I possessed it either.”
“Where did you obtain it?” Mo Wuhen did not ask where the Three Absolutes Calligraphy went. He only asked where it came from, which made Li Qingshan even more certain about his guess. As a result, he said, “A good friend gave it to me.”
“And the name of your good friend is?”
“Northmoon!” Li Qingshan nodded slightly. His eyes under his thick eyebrows stared at Mo Wuhen right before him.
“Don’t tell me it’s that… Northmoon who was killed in the Mist province by the Dragon King of Ink Sea?” Chu Danqing said in surprise. He faltered half way through his sentence, subconsciously glancing at Mo Wuhen.
Li Qingshan became even more certain before asking, “Don’t tell me you know this good friend of mine, fellow Mo?”
“I do.” Mo Wuhen did not hide it.
Li Qingshan suddenly began to laugh aloud. His laughter broke the silence. He no longer tried to probe him out indirectly. He pressed down on the table and leaned forward, staring straight at Mo Wuhen. He spoke his mind, “Fellow, are you perhaps the Dragon King of Ink Sea?”
“I am,” Mo Wuhen said indifferently.
Chu Danqing was rather stunned. Actually, he had guessed Mo Wuhen’s identity a long time ago during all these years they spent together. There were no nameless great cultivators in the world. However, since his master never mentioned it, he could not ask too much about it either as his disciple.
“I wonder which poem the name Northmoon comes from,” Mo Wuhen asked.
“It’s just a mere name. It’s no reference to any poems!” Li Qingshan lifted up the cup. His pupils suddenly turned scarlet red, gazing at Mo Wuhen. “A toast to the dragon king from Northmoon!”
A pair of pitch-black irises suddenly condensed in Mo Wuhen’s blank eyes. They were not the eyes of a human, but the eyes of a dragon that radiated with endless might, looking down anything and everything.
The moment their eyes met, the snow came to a halt!