Nobody came to ask Jing Jiu questions, and the swordsmen from Shangde Peak didn’t suddenly show up to take him to the cold and dreadful Sword Jail.
It was obvious that Liu Shisui didn’t tell anyone about his absence from his manor cave that night.
He learned from Sister Yushan that Liu recently had been practicing really hard, harder even than they had three years ago, and he became even quieter. Nobody knew what was actually on his mind, but they knew his states were progressing at an incredible speed.
Jing Jiu knew the reason for Liu’s diligent training and quietness, but he simply kept silent.
Other disciples were practicing diligently as well; their profiles of practicing on the Sword Peak could be seen every day; some of them could even walk to the edges of the clouds now.
Days afterwards, some disciples gradually succeeded in obtaining the swords; the happy laughs, screaming, and crying could be heard from time to time near the Stream of Sword Washing.
The disciples cherished the magic swords that they obtained after many attempts and hard work, holding them in their hands and keeping them close by in the class or when eating; they learned from their Big Brothers and Sisters, using the softest ribbon to wrap the swords and carrying them on their back.
The topics of which ribbon to use, which tie looked better and benefitted the sword the most became the popular conversations in the Hall of Sword Washing.
Some disciples even held the swords in their bosom during sleep and washroom time.
The situation eased up a little after Senior Master Mei Li got upset about all these.
Jing Jiu had heard all this from Sister Yushan and the youth Yuan, since he had never left the manor cave.
As far as he was concerned, all these matters were simply trivial episodes deserving of no particular attention.
Meeting Zhao Layue atop the peak that night and killing that advanced swordsman of Bihu Peak was also simply an event for him.
He thought two of them who had secrets of their own should keep some distance between them, if Zhao Layue was smart enough; the incident should be forgotten.
But he didn’t expect something to happen, not according to his prediction.
As a result, he became famous again, even more famous than before.
A piece of news spread along the banks of Sword Washing Stream.
All those who heard the news were shocked.
It was chaotic in the Hall of Sword Washing, with people talking everywhere.
"This is impossible!" shouted Xue Yong’e with a wicked voice.
Then, he felt kind of strange, it seemed he had reacted the same way back at the South Pine Pavilion.
The news even disturbed Mei Li and other teachers in the Hall of Sword Washing.
This Senior Master of Qingrong Peak and Lin Wuzhi had bestowed a great hope on Jing Jiu, but they didn’t expect he could become so famous so fast.
At the cliff wall by the end of the stream, Ma Hua handed a towel to Liu Shisui, who was soaked with sweat, saying with an uncertain smile, "Do you know, your Young Master is really famous now?"
Liu’s hand swiping the sweat on his face trembled, after awhile, he raised his head and asked nervously, "What had happened?"
"Zhao Layue has finished her Cultivation on the Sword Peak, returned to the Sword Washing Stream."
Ma Hua said emotionally, "It looks like she has actually completed the Tempered Will of the Sword."
Liu was startled.
Zhao Layue was the idol of all the disciples, including himself, but he had never met this legendary Sister.
It was a big deal that Sister had finished her Cultivation on Sword Peak, but what did this have to do with the Young Master?
"The issue is that after coming down from the peak, she didn’t go to the Hall of Sword Washing to visit the masters or return to her own minor cave, instead going straight to Jing Jiu’s manor cave."
"She is talking to Jing Jiu…at this very moment," Ma Hua said with a sentimental emotion, looking at a place downstream.
Liu Shisui felt relaxed, thinking the Young Master was really not a normal person, and only willing to talk a little to a genius like Sister Layue.
Suddenly, he felt his self-esteem slip away as he thought about how Jing Jiu didn’t talk to himself that much when they were together.
"You don’t want to check it out?" said Ma Hua, bringing his gaze back to face Liu.
Liu Shisui shook his head, spreading the towel on the stone as it waited to be dried by the sunlight as walking back to the stream, keeping focused on his sword work.
Watching the thin and small profile, Ma narrowed his eyes.
He couldn’t figure out what had happened to this small guy.
Recently, Liu became even more withdrawn, working even harder; it seemed he had found a new target, or withstood some kind of burden.
The sword style of Liangwang Peak lied in perseverance and determination, and though Jiu’s performance was fairly good, but he was out of place somehow.
Walking back to the natural pavilion formed by a few surrounding green trees, Ma looked at Gu Huan and asked, "Do you still think Jing Jiu is a useless fool?"
"All those who can’t take the swords are fools, no matter how talented they are in others’ opinions," said Gu Han emotionlessly.
Ma Hua understood what he meant and stopped talking.
Dozens of disciples poured out of the Hall of Sword Washing after class and came to the bank of Sword Washing Stream.
They came here to wash their swords and fruits for eating, and some of them got together to talk seemingly freely.
In fact, everybody was watching the cliff wall on the other bank of the stream.
Between the cliffs was a flat stone ground behind which was a manor cave, not so different from other manor caves on the cliff wall.
At that moment, two silhouettes in front of the minor cave could be seen vaguely.
"Is that really Sister Zhao?"
"Are you sure you’re not mistaken?"
"Yu Kun and Sister Zhao entered the inner sect at the same time, and had been in the same class at the Hall of Sword Washing for over a month, it’s impossible to not know him."
"Sister Zhao really came down the mountain? But why is she over there?"
"Look, quickly! She is talking to Jing Jiu!"
The disciples by the stream were whispering excitedly and nervously.
As far as they were concerned, Zhao Layue was the most admired and respected Sister, and meanwhile an untouchable fairy girl.
Everybody knew that Sister Zhao was a quiet person, preferring being alone and being isolated from the others; she didn’t even want to get close to Liangwang Peak, which desired to have her as their disciple. Why did she come to visit Jing Jiu after her long and hard practice on the Sword Peak?
What really mattered was that she was actually talking to Jing Jiu.
Did Jing Jiu have something that extraordinary?
A few days ago, his action of entering the clouds on the Sword Peak had shocked many people, but he didn’t succeed in obtaining the sword, so it didn’t matter that much.
"For the last two years, Brother Jing didn’t do that much, but he would, at a key moment, do a shocking deed; he hid his talents quite well," the young man Yuan from Lelang County said admirably while watching the scene on the other bank of the stream.
Who would not admire Jing Jiu at this moment?
"After all, Big Sister is a regular person?" a disciple said, feeling troubled.
The others asked what he meant.
He made a gesture on his face with his hand.
They all understood now, laughing and cursing.
"I get it now!" said Xue Yong’e suddenly, anger in his voice as he waved his arms like a madman. "Jing Jiu must have practiced secretly at night, but sleeps during the day, pretending he doesn’t care about anything; otherwise how could he walk into the clouds of Sword Peak and meet Big Sister? I have seen lots of people of this type in the county schools! He is really hypocritical!"
In the eyes of his peers on the other bank of the stream, Jing Jiu was admired a great deal; but he acted as he usually did, not saying much of anything.
Lying on that bamboo chair, he didn’t even know where Zhao Layue should sit if the monkeys didn’t bring out two big rocks from the other side of the cliff for her to sit on.
"Is the wound healed?"
"Is the Tempered Will of the Sword finished?"
He didn’t talk much, nor did Zhao Layue.
He felt good about it.
Liu Shisui was a pretty good boy, but he sometimes talked too much.
He didn’t have the experience of chatting, thinking the conversation was over, so he stared at the ceramic plate again, thinking where to put a sand grain held in his hand.
Zhao Layue didn’t speak, closing her eyes, meditating under the sunshine, and absorbing the heavenly and earthly energy.
At night, the wounds on her body had basically healed, aided a great deal by the magic tablet given to her Jing Jiu. But staying in the Sword Peak for over a year, along with completing the Tempered Will of the Sword, she also suffered some severe physical damages, with many tiny holes appearing on her meridians and the flexibility of the Sword Pill being affected, and all these needed time to be fixed.
After a long while, she opened her eyes and found the sun had already set on the west.
Jing Jiu was still staring at the ceramic plate with a sand grain in his hand, remaining the same posture as the one at the beginning.
It seemed the time had passed for just a second.
Watching Jing Jiu, she felt this youth was too profound to understand him.
It was not his state that was profound, but something else.
He had such fearsome patience, so he must be extraordinary.
Jing Jiu looked like he was playing chess, not sure where to move the next piece.
She turned her gaze to the ceramic plate and the fine sand for a long time, saying, ""Kind of interesting."
"Interesting," said Jing Jiu, raising his head and glancing at her once.
He didn’t expect that this young girl could figure out what it meant
"Too hard for me; I have to go," said Zhao Layue.
It was obvious that she didn’t think the valuable time should be spent on these things, even though she thought them interesting.
"Okay," said Jing Jiu.
A few days later, Zhao Layue came again.
Seeing the glinting sword light landed in front of Jing Jiu’s manor cave, the disciples on the other bank still felt shocked.
"You are here?"
Jing Jiu discovered her hair was still short, matted, covered by a layer of dust, like a cluster of weeds in the wilderness.
Maybe it was because the intention was too clear in the Piercing Discernment, he suddenly felt thirsty.
Without Liu Shisui filling up the teacup for him, the teapot was filled up by the spring water fetched by those monkeys.
The teapot was on the stone table; he was in the bamboo chair.
He was about to reach out, and glanced naturally at Zhao Layue once when realizing someone was nearby.
"What do you mean," she asked.
"Pour a cup of water for me," Jing Jiu said.
"No," Zhao Layue retorted.
Jing Jiu realized she was not Liu Shisui.
The pure and sweet spring water tasted as good as the tea.
This is what he thought as he drank the spring water in his cup.
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