It could be seen everywhere at the South Pine Pavilion that those external disciples were working vigorously on their skills.
When they punched, the force was seemingly powerful and magnificent, but was in fact very carefully executed, since the control of force had to be extremely accurate according to the entry-level practice instructions; the faces of the caretakers were long and gloomy when someone accidentally broke an old tree branch during the earliest days of training.
Those caretakers had been the external disciples themselves back in their training days, but they had to stay at the South Pine Pavilion working as caretakers because they failed to enter the inner sect for Cultivation; so the disciples were not scared of them.
Suddenly a fairly thick branch fell down with a crack.
One of the disciples, pulled back his slightly numb fist, stared vacantly, completely forgetting the existence of the caretakers.
With another thud, another disciple had just pulled his bloody fist, and a shallow hole in an old tree appeared, its barks spraying everywhere, though the disciple showed no signs of pain.
One of the disciples who were practicing the stride position against the pine tree fell directly to the ground, landing on his butt.
Similar incidents had occurred in many places around the same time, and it got pretty chaotic in the woods.
Then a great deal of talking occurred.
"What just happened?"
"What are you looking at?"
"He’s coming out!"
"That man is coming out!"
The windy sounds of thrusting fists on the hillside ground had gradually disappeared, and the vague white smoke was gone as well, with everything suddenly becoming deathly quiet.
Coming out from the training hall, several caretakers with puzzled expressions on their faces became amazed when they followed the eyes of those disciples gazing at a certain spot.
The mountain breeze lightly rustled the green grass, and a white dress was fluttering along with the wind. That person was actually coming out of his courtyard?
For over ten days, Jing Jiu hadn’t once appeared in front of people, not since he walked through the South Mountain Gate.
For the disciples on the hillside ground, this youth in white was very mysterious as well as rather weird.
Today was the first time he left the small courtyard, so his action attracted countless surprised reactions and stoked curiosity.
Even though he was being closely watched, Jing Jiu didn't care much; he walked through the woods with his hands behind his back, towards the training hall.
"Hello, Brother Jing Jiu," greeted a good-looking young girl after summoning a tremendous degree of courage.
Jing Jiu glanced at her and determined he didn't know her, then moved on without stopping.
"He doesn't even bother to nod his head, does he," someone commented angrily after seeing the scene.
"He actually nodded," the young girl responded quickly.
What she said was indeed true, Jing Jiu actually nodded his head, seen by many disciples nearby.
But the degree of his nodding was really too short, like the moment a stone is blown by the wind; you could hardly notice it if you weren’t looking carefully.
"Is that a nod or charity?" Some disciples sneered. "Why is he so proud and acting superior to us, just because he is from a rich family and has good looks? He doesn't understand we are in the Green Mountain Sect, a place for Cultivation; what use is there for mortal-world things here?"
"What are his qualifications for pride now?"
"Right now Little Brother Shisui is the outstanding one, and that former servant has suddenly turned into somebody who is out of his reach. He must feel quite humiliated, and that’s why he refused to come out lately."
There were many opinions about why Jing Jiu didn't want to leave the small courtyard, one being about his laziness, and more disciples held this view.
The girl who had greeted Jing Jiu wanted to argue in his defense, but she didn’t know what to say, because it seemed to be the truth.
Whoever was placed in Jing Jiu's situation would feel embarrassed and even humiliated.
In the training hall, a dozen disciples were sitting on the floor, holding the textbooks in their hands, but they didn’t read them, and instead were chatting about something.
Xue Yong'e, who had some important connections, was sitting in a prominent spot, but he was not the center of attention. As a matter of fact, all these disciples, including Xue, were sitting around Liu Shisui.
It seemed that they were exchanging ideas about practice and Cultivation, and it was obvious that this wasn’t the first time that this had occurred, as Liu’s small face didn't now didn’t show much nervousness.
Listening to his vivid and childish voice as he described his preparation for the Breaking Stage, the disciples' faces beamed with smalls, not out of a desire to please, but out of respect.
Two young female disciples looked at Liu Shisui with eyes that showed a trace of admiration.
Though neither Master Lü or Liu Shisui had mentioned it, some disciples had already guessed that Liu had probably and successfully entered the state of Spiritual Stability.
The fact that someone at this young an age and in such a short period of time had entered the state of Spiritual Stability was really a shocking achievement.
Who knew how far this natural Dao quality would go in the future?
"Come over here."
A smooth, unemotional and even voice sounded in the training hall, breaking the tranquil and intent atmosphere there.
The disciples turned around to face the entrance of the training hall; the snow-white dress reflecting the setting sun’s rays displayed a wonderful ring of light.
The two girls almost shrieked by this surprising appearance, but quickly covered their mouths with their hands.
The male disciples reacted a lot more slowly than the females and found the person standing there was actually Jing Jiu himself upon realizing what was going on.
The emotions in the eyes of those laying their sight on Jing Jiu were quite complicated; in addition to surprise, they demonstrated sympathy, compassion, and mockery, mixed with a hint of disgust and displeasure.
Just as the disciples in the woods said, the disciples of the South Pine Pavilion think that Jing Jiu’s refusal to leave the small courtyard is because Liu Shisui’s performance was just too great.
But why is he here today?
Looking at Jing Jiu, Xue Yong'e sneered. "Didn’t you see us discussing our homework?" Also, who are you giving orders to? ‘Come over here?’ Who do you think you are? Still think you are a young master, do you?"
Nobody joined in with Xue Yong'e, so his voice was getting weaker and weaker, until completely it disappeared. He hadn’t see the what he had expected to, that Liu Shisui, affected by his remarks, would just ignore Jing Jiu with a red face.
"Young Master, you’re finally willing to come out!" exclaimed Liu Shisui while running towards Jing Jiu as Xue was ranting.
Anyone could tell plainly that Liu was truly happy to see him, his smile forming across his small face like the blooming of a flower.
Back in Jing Jiu's courtyard, Liu Shisui was still in the state of excitement, and kept on asking why he came out today, if he would go out more often, if he had thought things through, and if he was ready to practice Cultivation.
For the first time, Jing Jiu felt this kid was kind of noisy and raised his right hand.
Liu shut his mouth immediately.
"After you had left this morning, I remembered I had forgotten one thing, so I went there to call you."
"It is not that I am not willing to leave the courtyard, I’m just too lazy to," he explained further after some thought; this had not happened very often.
Liu Shisui nodded to express his understanding. "What do you need that requires my help, Young Master," Liu asked with a great deal of curiosity.
"Have you already reached the stage?" asked Jing Jiu.
Liu didn’t dare look directly at his eyes. "The Master won’t allow me to say..." he murmured with his head down.
The reason why Master Lü did not let him tell anyone was that his success might affect others' practice. It was like a double-edged sword: on the one hand, his talent could encourage other disciples, but on the other hand, it might hurt their confidence.
There were other reasons why Liu did not tell Jing Jiu besides that one.
He had heard some discussions recently, both intentionally or unintentionally; the praises from other disciples made him feel jovial, but the mockery of his beloved Young Master made him extremely uncomfortable.
He could not decide whether those accusations were really true or not. If it were true, would Young Master be disheartened by his success in surpassing the stage?
He also knew that some of his thoughts were naive; Young Master is knowledgeable; he knows everything, and is only a little lazy. He shouldn’t care about these. But just in case…
"Drink this cup of tea."
Jing Jiu, who didn't pay much attention to what was on the mind of this little kid, simply wanted to get this task over with so he could go play with the stuff he had discovered lately to kill the time.
"What is in the tea?" Liu asked while taking the teacup.
This was the first time = Jing Jiu left small courtyard to call him back, so this cup of tea could not be ordinary tea.
"I put a tablet in it; it will help you stabilize the state of Spiritual Stability."
But Jing Jiu did not tell the kid that there was a very precious Zixuan pill in this cup of tea, and also didn't warn him about not telling anybody.
Liu Shisui didn't drink the tea. "But the Master also gave me a few tablets, don't you think they may cause some problems," he asked while looking at Jing with bitter expression.
"Those are not good enough, not worth taking," Jing Jiu said.
"Oh" Liu acknowledged and drank up without asking anything further.
He wasn’t sure why, but Jing Jiu felt pleased to watch Liu drink the tea without a ounce of hesitation, even though he was obviously helping him.
The youth in white had not felt so happy since he woke up in that cave.
"Taking advantage of my good mood today... Well, it's quite common, but... It's kind of boring, yes, boring…"
"Ask me if you have anything you don't understand," Jing Jiu said.
The training method of the external disciples at the Green Mountain Sect was very strange, for they gave them a textbook and then left them on their own. Though he possessed natural Dao quality, Liu was inexperienced and had many questions regarding Cultivation and practice, so he had wanted to ask Jing Jiu for awhile, just like the old days in the village, but he did not dare to. Yet, Liu found him in a good mood today, and so it was the perfect time to take the opportunity to, even though it could be that he was simply bored.
One asked and another answered, and the round of questions and answers went on and on and on, until the rays of sun tilted and the shadows of the trees grew longer; dusk had arrived.
Finally Liu Shisui had the questions and issues regarding Cultivation and practice solved.
The answers from Jing Jiu were precise, as if coming from sharpest sword blade in the universe, one that could easily cut the most complicated tangles in existence and let the truth of Dao practice reveal itself. In fact, the principle was so straight and simple.
Staring at Jing Jiu, his eyes were full of admiration; Liu Shisui knew the Young Master was pretty good, but didn't know he was this good. To think of it, some of his worries were purely naive and laughable.
Usually it would time for him to leave to go back to his own place after sharing the cookies and dry fruits, distributed by the caretakers, with Jing Jiu.
But today Jing Jiu invited him to stay a little bit longer.
"In fact, I also have something to ask you," he said quietly while keeping his gaze on Liu's eyes.
Liu Shisui felt surprised, "What things?"
"Why did you do that?" Jing Jiu asked.
Liu thought it over and then understood what he meant, "Young Master has been..."
Jing Jiu raised his hand.
Liu quickly swallowed the rest.
What he was going to ask had nothing to do with those accusations, but something else.
"You are a very bright kid, you’re kind, and have a temperament of determination that doesn't match your age, and you have naive but very firm values. So why do you still want to stay with me?" Jing Jiu gazed into his eyes as he asked.
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