Chapter 218 Sweet & Sour Pork with Pineapple (j)
Translated by Gumihou
Edited by Gumihou
The blackened piece of wood was only as large as her little finger. It looked like some kind of vine plant that had been left outside to dry out. Shiyu picked up the bit of wood and examined it briefly. There was nothing particularly outstanding about it, so she threw it into the Saint’s Dwelling without much thought.
Perhaps it would take root and sprout in that Spiritual energy rich area. She could decide what to do about it after she knew what it really was.
After packing up everything from the booth, she went to check out other booths for interesting things to buy. There were all kinds of random precious metals and items for sale or exchange. Shiyu casually bought up anything that caught her eye, enjoying her affluent status. Lin Fan and Chuyun had gone off to explore booths that interested them. After a while, the two of them ended up trailing after Shiyu as she continued with her reckless spending.
Finally, when she was ready to return, Shiyu saw that Lin Fan had nothing in his hand even though she was sure that she saw him bargaining for something earlier. Qi Chuyun has a bow.
“Oh? You’re done? I’m going to look for some seeds at the side market. Do you want to come?”
The side market was part of the market designated for the mundane people. It was also much more crowded than the Cultivator’s market. At the Imperial Capital’s East Side Market, the crowd was so dense that all they could see were the seething dark heads of people pushing around inside.
Luckily it did not take long for Shiyu to buy the necessary seeds. Still, all three breathed a sigh of relief once they were squeezed out of the crowd.
There were just too many people. Moreover, it’s already the height of summer and the stink of body odour was unbearable even for the mundane nose, let alone a Cultivator’s senses…
“I think I still prefer night markets,” said Shiyu wistfully.
After all, night markets came with food stalls. The scent of cooking food and the much cooler air has a lot to recommend it. “Luckily, the booth we went to has a good variety. My collection is almost complete.” She’ll plant them later and buy more if necessary.
“Shall we return?”
“Sure, we’re pretty much done anyway,”
Since this was meant to be a break, Shiyu intended to fully enjoy her brief time out. Instead of returning immediately, she headed for the First Rate Pavilion and bought a few dishes of Crystal Pork Shoulder back. They passed by some fruit and tanghulu  stalls so Shiyu bought some for Xiao Qi and the rest.
Once home, Shiyu set up a buffet-style meal in the dining room. With how scattered everyone’s time was, it was easier to set things up this way so everyone could eat when they have the time.
When Xiao Qi and Xiao Shu returned from their classes, Xiao Qi immediately grabbed a piece of fruit and went to look for her sister in the kitchen. Xiao Shu also picked up a piece of fruit. After some thought, she washed a few more fruits and brought them with her to the mountainside.
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Lao Er had always liked to train on his own in the back mountains. There were fewer people here, especially now that the rift has opened up. It was also cool and peaceful. A gentle breeze brought the scent of bamboo to his nose, calming the roiling emotions beneath his stoic expression.
Because of his poor constitution, it was very difficult for him to store up Spiritual power. It takes him up to a week to store up enough power to breakthrough, but his every attempt to stabilize that power into his Cultivation base nearly always failed. This happened so many times that it was close to a miracle he even managed to raise his Cultivation at all.
The more times he experienced failure, the more reckless he became. After all, regardless of his maturity, he was only a 15-year-old youth. He was on the cusp of adulthood where emotions easily get the better of him. He might be more mature than most people at his age, but not even he could remain unmoved in the face of many failures.
“Fail again!” Lao Er stared at his hand, at the dissipating Spiritual powers with a numb expression. He had worked so hard to accumulate this power and yet…
Lowering his head in frustration, he clenched his fist. What am I doing here?
He was, or had been, an ordinary person without even half a chance to Cultivate a Spiritual core. He had dared to change his fate and challenge the heavens, knowing that no matter how hard he Cultivated, he might never even reach Core Transformation stage. Nevertheless, when he first gained the ability to Cultivate, he dared to dream a little even as he comforted Sister Yu for the failed experiment.
Some were born with everything they had ever needed or wanted at their fingertips. Where the harshest problem they faced was ‘temporary’ setbacks. Meanwhile, there were others in this world who, no matter how hard they struggled to get out of the quagmire of their life, only ended up getting sucked back into despair.
Heaven is unfair!
Burying his face in his hands, Lao Er felt almost overwhelmed by the despair in his heart. He wanted to cry, but the tears would not come.
He had thought of giving up this fool’s dream many times and live an ordinary person’s life.  It would be a good life, he knew. He could even operate whatever business he wanted. A restaurant, a martial arts school, an inn… he would never starve, he could… he could get married and settle down and grow old, perhaps even die peacefully while his martial brothers and sisters continued with their struggles and perhaps eventually die a terrible death. Perhaps.  However, no matter how hard he tried to convince himself, there was still that part of him that refuses to let go of this life. Hope, was it hope? Sister Yu had mentioned that she will look for a way, but he had already extinguished that hope in himself.
What made him continue to train day and night, back before he even has this weak Cultivation base was the vague goal to become stronger. He had already achieved more than the wildest dreams of his past. He could Cultivate. He could generate electricity to his hands and fight for himself!
How could he give it up?
Could he even give it up?
Suddenly, he stood. Tears still trembled in the corners of his eyes, but his gaze was firm.
The life of a mundane person is less than a hundred years. His greatest wish is to achieve immortality.
As long as he’s still alive, there’s hope!
As long as there’s life, what’s despair?
I’ve already resolved to take this path, so what if I die on it? I’ll gladly die nine times over!
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The young man in the bamboo forest stood alone, his face tilted to the sky as narrow bamboo leaves swirled around him, as though attracted by his presence.
Not far away, Xiao Shu gently floated down from the waving shadows of the whispering bamboo. She held a cloth bag of fruits in her hand.
She had witness Lao Er’s near breakdown earlier and felt his despair keenly in her heart. Though she was also at the Condensation Stage, her cultivation far exceeds Lao Er.  Unlike him, she also knew that it was only a matter of time before she eventually builds up the necessary strength to improve herself, especially under the special College environment. Moreover, she also knew how her other classmates privately disdained Lao Er’s presence. How could they not? Here was someone with such weak Cultivation that he could not even be compared to the youngest Xiao Qi and yet, and yet, he was part of the Champion’s circle of personal friends. How could they not hate, disdain and envy him?
However, in Xiao Shu’s eyes, this young man has something that others did not have. Though his Cultivation base was low, he has… a certain something…
She had no idea to put this quality into words, but it was really captivating.
Xiao Shu stood quietly in place, waiting for the Lao Er to come to himself. It felt… bad to intrude on him right that moment. She made her way to a rock nearby and sat down. The little bundle of fruits tucked on her knees.
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Lao Er stood in place for a long time.
By the time he opened his eyes, the pink and orange glow of dusk had scattered across the sky.
He had… apparently broken into Condensation Stage 3.
It took him nearly three months to break into this stage. He had no idea what to feel. Elated for having broken through? Cry for taking so long?
Suddenly, his stomach rumbled.
Right, let’s go and find something to eat first. Lao Er was about to return to the Villa when he saw Xiao Shu sitting on a rock not far away.
She beckoned him over.
Still feeling a little bemused, he readily accepted the slice of melon she handed to him, “Congratulations on your breakthrough.”
“Thank you,” he sat familiarly next to Xiao Shu. “Have you been waiting all this time?”
“Hehe, I’m just curious about how you Cultivate,” Xiao Shu blushed. “I hope you don’t mind?”
“What’s so interesting about my Cultivation? I’m the official dead last in this school,” his words were harsh, but his tone was less frustrated than one might have expected.
“Your Cultivation might be the lowest now, but I believe that will change. One day, you will surpass those who are better than you now,” said Xiao Shu with her chin on her hand and her feet swinging casually from the edge of the rock face.
“Really? Well, I like to think so too,” Lao Er bit into the sweet melon. The melon felt cool in his mouth as he chewed. It tasted especially refreshing in this hot weather.
“When you’re famous and all the world know your name, you must remember me too,”
“Sure. Oh, and thank you for the melon,”
“No problem, Sister Shi is the one who bought it. I got some for you before the others ate them all up. I’m afraid I’m just gifting you with borrowed flowers.”
The two of them sat together, sharing the melon slices and chatting casually as the pink glow gave way to deeper gold and silence fell around them.
Hidden to the side, Shiyu shifted her grip on her food box.
She could wait until Lao Er come back to the Villa to give it to him.
[Gumihou: Hmm, I guess we know Xiao Shu’s type?]
Gumihou is keeping track so that you don’t have to ~
|凝氣||Condensation Stage||Stage 1|
|化丹||Core Transformation||Stage 2|
|凝丹(46)||Core Condensation||Stage 3|
|化神(52)||Divine Transformation||Stage 4|
|成嬰||Nascent Formation||Stage 5|
|返墟||Revert Decay||Stage 7|
|歸真||Original Purity||Stage 8|
|成仙||Become immortal||Stage 9|
 Tanghulu – Candied fruit on a stick. The traditional type of fruits used is haw (which could be really sour), but grapes, blue berries and strawberries are good too  Lao Er’s Thoughs: Was a little too briefly treated by the author. Gave him the full range of emotions to convincingly portray real human feelings. Author-san said it was the ‘tiny bit of hope’ that caused Lao Er to stick around, but Gumi is not quite convince. Also, human beings aren’t that 2D.  Xiao Shu’s Thoughts: I like her to be more than just a silly ditz in love with the wrong guy. She’s fundamentally kind and intelligent, and I’d like to show this.
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