From the end of spring to early autumn, Gu Qing came to the peak top once every ten days.
He didn’t know about Jing Jiu’s injury.
Every time time he came to the peak top, he saw Jing Jiu lying in the bamboo chair, except on the day of the first autumn rainfall. The Green Mountain Formation opened, by request of Qingrong Peak, with the autumn rain falling down onto the peaks, creating a sense of desolate beauty. However, Jing Jiu wasn’t so happy about it, as he had to move back to the manor cave for the time being.
Today Gu Qing came to the peak top holding a cluster of bananas.
"Did you get it from the monkeys?" asked Jing Jiu, glancing at the bananas while lying in the bamboo chair.
Gu Qing nodded in confirmation, asking, "Were those bamboos I brought last time used to repair the legs of the chair?"
Liu Shisui brought a dozen bamboo sticks with him when he came back from the village, asking Gu Qing to take them to Jing Jiu.
It was said that a few bamboo shoots had been newly planted in front of the manor cave of the elder Bai Rujing.
Jing Jiu said, "The chair has been repaired somewhat."
Hearing this, Gu Qing noticed some new pieces of bamboo were placed on the back of the chair.
"While I’ve heard the rumors, I never really expected that you’d actually be so…so lazy," said Gu Qing with a hint of sincerity and admiration as he looked at Jing Jiu.
Jing Jiu was extremely lazy, and yet was able defeat Gu Qing with ease at the Inherited Sword Competition, even surpassing the other states.
He always admired, or aspired to, such real genius.
Jing Jiu said, "Cultivation is different from the Kung Fu practiced by mortal men; there is no difference in effect whether you sit cross-legged, are lying down, or stand under the waterfall or by the ocean."
Thinking about it, Gu Qing realized that what Jing Jiu said had merit, but only when applied to meditating and absorbing the heavenly and earthly energy; doesn’t the way of the sword require work?
"Some tea," said Jing Jiu.
It sounded like he invited Gu Qing to have a cup of tea, but it meant a different thing.
Placing the cluster of bananas on the table, Gu Qing started cooking tea.
Jing Jiu still preferred having somebody cook tea for him; but Gu Qing wasn’t Liu Shisui, so he couldn’t order Gu to do things, and the monkeys were too dim-witted for the job…
Two cups of tea were poured from the teapot. Gu Qing took one cup and walked to the cliff’s edge and down on one of two big rocks that had been brought here by the monkeys.
Looking at Jing Jiu, Gu Qing found himself at mental peace.
No matter how handsome a face was, after seeing it so many times…well, it was still handsome, but it was not as striking as at the beginning.
The real striking part for Gu Qing was Jing Jiu’s talent in sword fighting, even though his own talent in sword work was praised by Guo Nanshan and other masters on Liangwang Peak.
Gu Qing said, "When I first decided to dedicate myself to Cultivation, I thought I could enter the inner sect and become a disciple of Green Mountain if I worked harder than others, since it was impossible for all the disciples of Green Mountain to be geniuses; people like you are rare. That much I was right about."
"I think that’s a great idea, and it happens that nearly none of the disciples of this generation are true geniuses, so congratulations," said Jing Jiu.
Gu Qing was stunned, wondering if the disciples with natural Dao quality such as Zhao Layue and Liu Shisui were not counted as geniuses?
What about yourself?
Jing Jiu looked at the cluster of bananas, asking, "Have you been to the manor cave yet?"
Gu Qing shook his head.
He wasn’t qualified to inherit the sword or a caretaker; he was merely a tenant here. So he was very careful about his behavior, spending most of his time meditating or cultivating in the wooden cabin situated in the middle of the cliff. He simply sat by the cliff’s edge, cooking tea for Jing Jiu when he was here atop the peak every once in a while. He never thought to go inside the manor cave to have a look.
"Go have a look," Jing Jiu said.
Gu Qing was slightly stunned, asking, "Is that okay?"
"The tenant is also our guest, so it’s okay to have a look," said Jing Jiu.
It was the Senior Grandmaster Jing Yang’s manor cave, so Gu Qing couldn’t help but be curious.
Thinking about it a second, he stood up and walked toward the cave.
He soon flew out of the cave like a fugitive.
Looking at Jing Jiu, he said with a complicated emotion, "I…I had learned the sword style secretly so I could reach this level."
It was obvious that the sword manual on the table was placed by Jing Jiu for Gu Qing to see.
"I think where you’re at is pretty good right now."
Jing Jiu picked up the cluster of bananas on the table, throwing them back to the monkeys in the forest.
Afterwards, he walked into the manor cave and came back with the sword manual, placing it in Qu Qing’s hand, saying, "This way you’re not learning it secretly anymore."
After a long moment of silence, Gu Qing said, "Thank you."
"Not at all," Jing Jiu said.
"I actually thought you didn’t like me all that much," Gu Qing said.
"You have deeply hidden intentions, but I don’t have a preference one way or another," said Jing Jiu.
Gu Qing didn’t quite understand, asking, "Why do you want to help me?"
"I don’t like your brother," said Jing Jiu.
"Neither do I," said Gu Qing, laughing.
Returning to the cliffside and walking into his wooden cabin covered by moss, Gu Qing took down the tree bark that were used as a shield against the wind on the window. He opened the sword manual in his hands under the natural light from outside.
He had learned the Six-Dragon sword style, but the manual was confiscated and forbidden for use again since he was expelled from Liangwang Peak.
He was quite excited because this could be the Nine Deaths sword style of Shenmo Peak—which was the secret sword style of Senior Grandmaster Jing Yang.
But he was wrong.
Staring at the first page of the sword manual, Gu Qing was lost for a long time.
This wasn’t the Nine Deaths sword manual.
His hands were trembling.
On the first page two words were clearly written:
It was getting colder after the autumn rain.
Though the nine peaks of Green Mountain were isolated from the outside world and there was not much difference between winter and summer, the four seasons were still distinctive here.
Jing Jiu had finally recovered from his illness.
Of the noises on Shenmo Peak, the songs of cicadas, the monkeys’ screams, and Jing Jiu’s coughing, there was now only one, and the peak was a lot quieter now.
The world hadn’t changed all that much. The disciples practiced Cultivation on their own, rarely leaving their manor caves. The trees in the forests of the peaks gradually turned into various colors, but the beautiful scenery wasn’t appreciated so much by these practitioners.
News came to Green Mountain from the outside: A horrendously big demon showed up outside Chaonan City, north of the Muddy River.
It was rumored that the big demon was heartless and cruel, preferring to eat human flesh, especially those of virgin boys and girls.
The big demon suddenly appeared again during the middle of autumn, destroying a cliff outside Chaonan City where hundreds of village folk were killed or severely wounded.
The Green Mountain Sect couldn’t ignore this event, so the disciples of Liangwang Peak took off on their flying swords the same night, intending to vanquish the demon.
Liu Shisui, possessing natural Dao quality, was among the disciples to carry out the demon-vanquishing task, which attracted some attention.
Liu Shisui was a disciple of Tianguang Peak in name, having inherited the sword half a year ago, and he was allowed to travel outside to vanquish the demon, so he must be liked very much by Liangwang Peak.
The disciples of Liangwang Peak had to leave in a hurry, so few people on the nine peaks knew about it.
Liu Shisui didn’t have time to go to Shenmo Peak, and he simply asked Gu Qing to tell Jing Jiu.
"Liu Shisui asked me to tell you; don’t tell anybody else." After organizing the words in his head, Gu Qing continued, "…He meant, don’t tell anybody that he told you he was leaving."
These two conflicting sentences had many hidden meanings, but Jing Jiu didn’t respond, sitting in the bamboo chair and looking at the mountains outside the cliff, showing no concern.
A few days later, Gu Qing came to the peak top again, delivering a message from somebody else.
"In the Hall of Sword washing, there were a Sister named Yushan and a Brother from Lelang County…"
Gu Qing couldn’t recall the name of that Brother.
"Yuan is his family name," said Jing Jiu.
"…Yes, the youth Yuan wanted to know if Shenmo Peak will select disciples at the next Inherited Sword Competition three years from now."
Zhao Layue was also standing by the cliff edge. Hearing this, she glanced at Jing Jiu, and realized she had forgotten about this problem.
Zhao Layue and Jing Jiu said this at almost the same time.
Gu Qing shrugged, meaning he was merely an innocent messenger.
Zhao Layue asked Jing Jiu, "Why don’t we select disciples?"
"Too noisy," said Jing Jiu.
Unlike Gu Han or Ma Hua, Zhao Layue wasn’t as easy to defeat using one-word tactics.
"I’m the Peak Master."
Having said that, she strode back to the manor cave.
The first snowfall arrived during the early days of winter; a few days later, the Green Mountain received another stronger snowstorm.
As requested by Qingrong Peak, the Green Mountain Formation opened, and the snowflakes fell down from the sky in great number.
After only one night, the peaks were capped with white snow. The mountain peaks that were dressed in a silvery cloak looked incredibly beautiful.
A flying sword, arriving through wind and snow, landed on the top of Shenmo Peak.
Gu Qing was completely covered in snow, his expression a bit pale.
Since he was expelled from Liangwang Peak, he seldom rode the sword, and on Shenmo Peak he always walked.
It looked like something urgent had happened.
Jing Jiu and Zhao Layue walked out of the manor cave.
, "Liu Shisui was wounded," Gu Qing told them.
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