Jing Jiu didn’t tell Zhao Layue about his discovery, saying, "A sigh shouldn’t make you do so much."
"At first, I thought it was just a hallucination, but later, I still felt something was wrong, and my Sword Heart was restless. Half a year later, I couldn’t help but use my familial connections to check on this Underworld disciple, thinking that if it was nothing, then I didn’t have to be worried about it anymore," said Zhao Layue.
Since the armistice between human race and the Underworld, the two sides had many clandestine exchanges. The Zhao family had a very high social status in Zhaoge City and had ample influence in the military, so she had access to many information channels.
"Did you find anything out during your investigation?" asked Jing Jiu.
"I didn’t find anything because no information on this person could be found," said Zhao Layue, looking at the corpse in the hole on the ground. "This person didn’t seem to exist in the Underworld."
"What is his name?" asked Jing Jiu.
"He told me his name in the restaurant, his name is Yin Shan," said Zhao Layue.
It was very important for the Underworld to return the soul-fires to their birth places; anyone who died in the outside world would be recorded in great details in the Book of Deaths.
If the name Yin Shan couldn’t be found in the Death Book, it meant that either his name was a fake or that more secrets were hidden in this case.
"Master Meng," Jing Jiu said suddenly.
"Yes, later I began to investigate Master Meng secretly," said Zhao Layue after a brief moment of silence.
Master Meng was her teacher when she was in the outer sect, who treated her with a lot of care and affection, just like Liu Shisui and Jing Jiu were treated by Master Lü.
At the moment, Master Meng was practicing behind closed doors, intending to reach the State of Free Travel after receiving the magic pills from the senior masters.
"It seems he is rewarded too much merely for taking care of you."
"That’s right. I suspect Shangde Peak was involved."
Glancing at her once, Jing Jiu asked, "Besides the fact that he is from Shangde Peak, is there any other reason to be suspicious?"
"All nine peaks know that the Senior Master of Sword Justice doesn’t like Senior Grandmaster Jing Yang, as they were not on good terms," said Zhao Layue.
Jing Jiu didn’t express his opinion on what she had just said.
Zhao Layue continued, "Following the clues of Master Meng and Yin Shan, the Curtain Rollers discovered that Bihu Peak was short two pieces of Thunder-Soul Wood before the One-Thousand-Mile Prohibition went into effect. It would be impossible to remove these two pieces of Thunder-Soul Wood from the nine peaks, what with the Peak Guards keeping watch at all times; so where are these pieces of wood then? As I was about to investigate further, The alarm went off on Bihu Peak. You already know the rest."
The Thunder-Soul Wood was the most important treasure of Bihu Peak, particularly useful for practicing superior sword work or receiving the powerful energy of heaven and earth.
It was said that a practitioner who passed the State of Heavenly Arrival could employ the Thunder-Soul Wood to transfer his soul to another life.
It was natural that the Green Mountain Sect kept a close watch on such treasures, but two of them were missing for unknown reasons, so the suspicion was only natural.
The former Peak Master of Bihu, Lei Poyun, suddenly went mad and was later smothered to death by Yuan Qijing’s iron sword in the mountain, which might have something to do with the case.
Yet, Jing Jiu didn’t care so much about this case, merely watching Zhao Layue.
Zhao Layue didn’t mention what clues were found on Master Meng and Yin Shan, but Jing Jiu knew it would cost a great deal to ask the Curtain Rollers to help investigate the internal affairs of the Green Mountain Sect, the number one sword sect in the world. He thought about the last few years, about this young girl, extremely dedicated to her Cultivation on Sword Peak, just to climb up Shenmo Peak to have a look…
Jing Jiu abruptly reached his hand out and rubbed her head.
Zhao Layue stared at him wide-eyed.
"Don’t investigate this case anymore," Jing Jiu said to her seriously.
"Why?" asked Zhao Layue.
Jing Jiu said in his mind, "Because I’m afraid I can’t protect you."
He activated the Sword Source in his mind, that iron sword vibrating at a high speed and unperceived by naked-eyes, generating buzzing sounds like a cluster of bees flying by.
Zhao Layue’s expression changed, and she was about to stop him; but it was too late.
A few fire balls fell from the iron sword onto the corpse of the Underworld disciple.
The corpse burned fiercely; in the blink of an eye, it turned into ashes.
Zhao Layue stared at him to wait for an explanation.
Jing Jiu didn’t explain.
Zhao Layue stepped onto her sword, which shown with a flash of beautiful light, and rode her sword into the sky.
Jing Jiu looked at the empty sky, thinking this young girl must be really pissed, leaving him behind to walk all the way back…
In fact, he had already entered the State of Perfect Preservation, so he should be able to ride the flying sword easily, but for an unknown reason, he had never ridden a flying sword before.
He looked at the iron sword, shaking his head.
Afterwards, his eyes followed the iron sword and gazed at the ashes in the bottom of the pit.
"Yin Shan…That’s a good name."
In Cloudy Town, a hotpot was boiling by the window in a restaurant.
Jing Jiu sat at the table, watching the ingredients floating up and down without any intention of picking up the food with his chopsticks.
As a Cultivation practitioner, he didn’t have too many desires for the mortal world, and was not interested in this delicate food that started in Yi County and became popular in the Underworld.
Many years ago, someone had advised him, a practitioner who pursued longevity should learn more about the beauty of life, gaining adequate internal motive as a result.
Back then, he didn’t quite understand this statement, about as much as he didn’t understand the saying that you couldn’t step into the same river twice.
Now, he finally understood what that person meant, and by and large understood the whole affair.
The duck intestines had sunk to the bottom of the hotpot, as if drowned.
The chili peppers were still floating up and down in their struggle.
The tripe and aorta were visible every now and again, their fate unknown.
"It takes absolute confidence to use such a name; the death was faked really carelessly. Perhaps you didn’t expect I would come back."
Looking at the empty seat opposite him, Jing Jiu said, "Hope to see you again soon."
Having said that, he stood up, then left the restaurant.
The hotpot was still boiling, emitting the appetite-inspiring aroma, and nobody knew when the broth in the hotpot would dry up from the constant evaporation.
By nightfall, Jing Jiu had arrived at Shenmo Peak on foot.
He walked toward the peak top along the narrow mountain path.
The trees shivered throughout the mountain as he was followed by the monkeys, who presented him a variety of mountain fruits in an attempt to please him.
"I don’t want them," Jing Jiu said.
Shenmo Peak was located in the deep parts of Green Mountain, the most remote of all the nine peaks.
Though Cloudy Town was on the outskirts of Green Mountain, Jing Jiu still had to travel nearly one hundred miles to get back to Shenmo Peak.
It took him half a day to get back, and he felt really tired; walking was the kind of repetitive movement he loathed most, which is why he felt less than upbeat.
Yet no one could tell if his bad mood had anything to do with the corpse outside of Cloudy Town.
Sensing his negative emotions, the monkeys became quiet, following him in silence, though some whispers were heard once in a while.
Jing Jiu stopped after discovering that two monkeys were injured, perhaps due to the battle with the monkeys of Shiyue Peak a few days ago.
He flicked a magic tablet into the forest, saying, "Share it."
This was a secret magic tablet of Shiyue Peak called the Yixing Pill, which, while not helpful for Cultivation, was incredibly effective at healing external wounds and resupplying blood, so it was very valuable.
If the masters of Shiyue Peak learned that he fed the monkeys precious Yixing Pill, they would have been enraged to the point of having a heart attack.
Jing Jiu kept on walking, finally arriving at the middle part of the peak and seeing a pile of a dozen cut-down tree trunks in front of a broken cliff.
Gu Qing was busy among the tree trunks, and he actually was building a house for himself there.
Jing Jiu didn’t stop to talk to him, passing around the broken cliff and soon arriving atop the peak.
Zhao Layue stood by the cliff edge, her dress hem flying slightly, like that of a fairy girl, ignoring her matted short hair.
Moving toward Jing Jiu, she said, "I will keep on investigating."
"Are you sure that he was well prepared and nothing would happen?" questioned Jing Jiu.
Staring into his eyes, Zhao Layue said, "But he hasn’t appeared yet."
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