Lu Chen shakes his head, “The spirit wood is still underage, so it can’t be traded for much spirit stones even if I were to cut it. It would be a pity. Forget it, let’s leave it here to grow for a while longer.”
Hong Chuan is slightly surprised. He takes a look at him and nods his head.
After the two of them rested for a moment more, they started to try looking for a way out of here. At this moment, they seem to be around 20 zhang or so from the top of the chasm. The path from the cave to the top of the cliff is mainly just a flat rock wall, so it would be hard to climb up. After staring at each other for a moment, they walk into the interiors of the cave to take a look.
Unexpectedly, after taking a careful look, they realised that there seems to be another world inside the small cave.
Lu Chen twisted off a few pieces of wood and lights it up with an ignitable paper roll. He walks into the cave together with Hong Chuan. After passing by several boulders, they see a twisted path ahead of them that leads into the interiors of the mountain.
The both of them exchange gazes. After a moment, Lu Chen says, “Let’s go, otherwise we would be waiting for our deaths here.”
Hong Chuan speaks in agreement and the both of them proceed into the depths of the cave.
As they walk into the interiors of the cave, they soon found themselves swamped in darkness, except for the torch that illuminates the rock walls beside them. They can see many sharp stone edges and protrusions from it. Proceeding on further, water drips from the top of the rock wall. There are algae growing in some location. Occasionally, the torch illuminates the presence of some small bugs crawling by.
The surroundings is almost completely silent. Soon, the passageway narrows to a point only one person could pass at a time.
Lu Chen surveys the surrounding and states to Hong Chuan behind him, “It doesn’t seem that anyone has been here before.”
Hong Chuan nods his head as worry reflects in his eyes, “I wonder if there is a way out from here?”
Lu Chen replies, “It would depend on luck.” He continues walking forward. At the same time, perhaps to liven the situation and get the both of them to relax, Lu Chen smiles, “I remember that when I was younger, I would often hear people retelling stories in the tea house and taverns. Every time when a crisis happens, the bad man would meet with misfortune while the good man would always turn the hopeless situation before him into a blessing, such as walking into some heavenly residence and meeting with an opportunity of a lifetime, haha.”
Initially, Hong Chuan’s face is solemn but upon hearing those words, he bursts into laughter uncontrollably. He shakes his head with a smile, “Now that you say so, it does seem to be it.” After a momentary pause, he continues, “Just that, are we the good men or the bad men?”
Lu Chen smiles, “Who knows.”
In this world, it is easy to term a person as a good man and bad man, but it isn’t so when trying to differentiate between the two of them. At this moment, in the cave by the chasm in the wilderness, if one were to talk about luck, it would be hard to tell whether Lu Chen and Hong Chuan are the ‘good’ or the ‘bad’.
They feel that they have already walked for a long distance in this peculiar albeit natural road in the interior of the mountain, but they still aren’t at the ends of it yet.
Throughout the journey, they were lucky in the sense that they didn’t meet with any accidents. Yet similarly, they didn’t stumble upon any heavenly residence, peerless cultivation art, mystical secret manuals or some great inheritance.
On this point, it seems that the both of them… aren’t good and aren’t bad?
“I think that I am a good person.” From the back, Hong Chuan says in between his panting. After walking for such a long distance in this dark and narrow passageway, he feels slightly fatigued. Furthermore, the surroundings are too dark and too quiet, inducing some inconceivable emotions in one’s mind. Thus, he feels impelled to talk to Lu Chen, “After walking for so long, we didn’t meet with any trouble. Thus, we should be fine.”
Lu Chen’s torch is nearing its end. He gazes worriedly at the final bit of flames that are burning as he replies, “Is that so? I don’t think our words count in determining whether we are good or bad. Back when you were in Kunlun Sect, what did your peers view you as? Do they say that you are a good man or a bad man?”
Hong Chuan contemplates and he replies uncertainly, “Keng… It doesn’t seem that anyone has talked about it before. Regardless of whether I am good or bad, who would claim that someone is a good man or a bad man out of the blue?”
Lu Chen chuckles, “Not even one person has told that to you?”
Hong Chuan shakes his head, “None at all.”
Lu Chen asks, “Then, in your mind, have you thought about what is a good man and what is a bad man?”
Hong Chuan is taken aback. He replies, “I think… The orthodox cultivators carry out acts of justice, they are good men; those unorthodox cultivators from demonic cults who kills the innocent, they are bad men.”
Lu Chen pauses for a moment. He seems to want to say something but his words stop in his throats.
Behind him, upon seeing Lu Chen stop, Hong Chuan also subconsciously stops as well and he asks, “Brother Lu, what happened?”
Lu Chen turns around and looks at Hong Chuan. The moment he opens his mouth to say something, they are suddenly plunged into darkness. That flame torch has burnt to its end and even the final spark of it had extinguished.
In the depths of the mountain, plunged into sudden darkness, the two of them quieten. The darkness assaults them from all direction in an instant.
The surroundings fall completely silent…
Not sure from when on, one could almost hear his own heartbeat in the silence. Lu Chen’s calm voice suddenly sounds out, “We should continue walking.”
Hong Chuan is surprised. At this moment, he could not even make out Lu Chen’s silhouette, needless to say to walk on. He couldn’t help asking, “It is so dark, can you make out the road? If only we still had a torch.”
Lu Chen slowly turns around and proceeds forward, “Let’s go.”
Hong Chuan hesitates for a moment. In the end, he still slowly fumbles his way through. However, for an instant, he could see a blur figure in front of him and it seems to be Lu Chen’s back figure. However, what is weird is that his posture is just like how it was previously. He still held a fire torch in his hand, as though it is still illuminating light that guides his path.
However, the surroundings are obviously pitch-black, there isn’t even a shimmer of light.
That faint figure is still walking forward. His hand is still raised, as though there is really flames burning on a torch.
Burning silently, as though the flames itself are black. Black flames.
In the stories, whenever one is plunged into this situation, there would always be some incredible incident occurring. It could be a mystical adventure or an opportunity. Perhaps a hidden expert or a rare spirit herb. All in all, the critical moment to test if one is sufficiently lucky to become the protagonist of fate would appear at this moment.
Just that, in this evening, in this pitch-black narrow passageway in the depths of the mountain, Lu Chen and Hong Chuan did not possess such luck. As they walked on and on, twisting and turning for an hour, they found a crack of light right in front of them. As they rushed forward, they found themselves at the bottom of the mountain facing the back of the tea mountain.
It feels weird to use good and bad in the conversation between adults, but as the author chooses to use the basic words in this text, I will follow by his intention.