Jing Jiu climbed up the river bank, the water running down his white clothing like a waterfall.
The soldiers of Chaonan City were running, looking like something had happened.
Jing Jiu glimpsed in that direction and used his Sword Source to dry his clothing, resulting in his whole body appearing as if shrouded in a layer of white fog.
"Now are you still going to ask me why I wanted to come to Chaonan City?"
Zhao Layue’s voice rang out outside the fog.
Jing Jiu realized why the soldiers of Chaonan City were so nervous; it was perhaps because they were alarmed by her sword riding out of the city.
He didn’t respond to her question, as he knew what she said was right.
Those things that happened to Liu Shisui were predicted by him, but Jing Jiu still needed to come to the place to check it out himself.
"Have you found the thing you were looking for?" Zhao Layue asked.
"Hum," Jing Jiu replied.
Zhao Layue didn’t ask further questions.
"Are you going to investigate further?" asked Jing Jiu while looking at her.
"Yeah," Zhao Layue replied the same way.
"This actually had nothing to do with the Thunder-Soul Wood."
Looking at her, Jing Jiu said, "If ascension failed, the problem would have occurred in the Formation."
"If Lei Poyun dared steal the Thunder-Soul Wood from Bihu Peak, he would have the guts to change the materials for the Formation," Zhao Layue said.
Though these two things were not connected, the speculation was indeed reasonable.
"The Formation was on the top of Shenmo Peak, so he couldn’t do anything to it," said Jing Jiu.
Zhao Layue thought how she didn’t perceive any trace of any Formation when she was on the peak top, not even a residual hint of any Formation.
"Dispersal of Smoke and Clouds was the name of that Formation."
Jing Jiu said, "No trace could possibly remain."
"Dispersal of Smoke and Clouds…not a very fortunate name," commented Zhao Layue.
"The ascension of the Cultivation practitioners means death to those remaining in this world, so it’s not a happy occasion," Jing Jiu said.
After a moment of silence, Zhao Layue said, "That is probably why few people on the nine peaks were truly happy when Senior Grandmaster ascended."
Jing Jiu didn’t respond.
"If the materials were in good order, how could the Formation have gone wrong?" Zhao Layue asked.
"Perhaps…the Formation that the Immortal Jing Yang learned was wrong in the first place," Jing Jiu said with a soft smile.
His smile was a bit feeble.
Jing Jiu and Zhao Layue left Chaonan City, going over mountains and through forests, where their whereabouts were unknown.
On the Green Mountain, Liu Shisui woke up at last. His body, once boiling hot, returned to its normal temperature, and his intelligence wasn’t affected; he looked as though nothing had happened to him at all. However, when he looked at his own reflection in the bronze mirror, he could occasionally see a trace of devilish red in the deep end of his pupils.
The next day, Liu Shisui was locked up in the Sword Jail. No matter how angry Elder Bai Rujing got, the decision made by Shangde Peak could not be changed.
The reason was that Shangde Peak suspected Liu Shisui had secretly swallowed the Devil Pill of the Dace Devil during the demon-purge battle in the Muddy River.
Eating the Devil Pill could help the practitioners increase their Cultivation states much faster, but doing so could possibly contaminate their Dao Hearts, making them go mad.
For any orthodox sect, this was unacceptable behavior, and for the Green Mountain Sect, this was a severe crime violating the Sword Justice.
Even though he was someone with natural Dao quality and highly thought of by the Sect, the most lenient punishment would be to remove his achieved Cultivation and expel him from the Green Mountain, if he had indeed done as thought.
In the following days, Shangde Peak interrogated Liu Shisui with some of the most brutal methods, even torturing him in the end.
Yet the outcome of the interrogation was somewhat unforeseen.
Liu Shisui suddenly fell unconscious by the Muddy River, and this, combined with the boiling hot body temperature and his fast Dao pulse and so on, indicated that he had indeed taken the Devil Pill.
However, there wasn’t a single measure that found any direct evidence in Liu’s body, including examinations carried out by the masters of Shiyue Peak or Chi Yan using his Sword Heart to listen to his pulse.
Without evidence, Liu Shisui had to be released; but Shangde Peak didn’t want to close the case now that it had become really bizarre.
Up until that point, either Elder Bai Rujing or the young disciples of Liangwang Peak began believing Shangde Peak’s assessment.
So nobody went to visit Liu Shisui.
Regardless of how badly Shangde Peak tortured him, Liu Shisui always remained silent; the excruciating pain didn’t make him swear at all.
Sitting quietly in the sunless jail room, his wounded face displayed perseverance, and loneliness.
The nine peaks of Green Mountain were shocked.
By the Stream of Sword Washing, the discussions of this incident occurred frequently; some didn’t believe it, and some showed sympathy, though majority of the disciples demonstrated apathy, even contempt.
The apathy and contempt came from their disappointment; the Sect had high expectations for Liu Shisui, and he didn’t need to use such a shortcut to improve his Cultivation states. He had eventually lost his Dao Heart.
Gu Qing had been practicing sword work on Shenmo Peak, so he got the news late. When he finally learned about the event, Liu Shisui had been already locked up for more than ten days.
Gu Qing thought this event was suspicious. He had made contact with Liu Shisui in the past, and didn’t believe Liu would steal and eat the Devil Pill at all.
If Liu Shisui was going to be locked up in the dark and damp Sword Jail, his Cultivation would suffer after an extended period of time, and the path toward heaven could even be suspended.
Yet he was merely a guest of the inherited disciples on Shenmo Peak; how could he help Liu Shisui?
At that moment, Gu Qing recalled what Jing Jiu told him before his departure: if anything happens, go find the monkeys.
Gu Qing was a very smart fellow, so he understood what this instruction meant.
In many people’s eyes, Jing Jiu and Liu Shisui, the former pair of master and servant, had parted and went their separate ways. Yet Gu Qing knew the true relationship between them, like those bamboos or like those instructions, so he was quite certain that on the nine peaks of Green Mountain, anything to do with Liu Shisui was definitely a big deal for Jing Jiu.
Then this instruction meant: if something happened to Liu Shisui, he should go find the monkeys.
Gu Qing walked out of the wooden cabin and punched the tree a few times with his fist, afterwards mimicking monkey scream a few times.
The bending of branches in the forest and the screams of the monkeys could be heard.
A dozen monkeys came to the wooden cabin and surrounded him.
Gu Qing learned how to scream like a monkey, but it didn’t mean that he could use these screams to explain the issue.
Looking at the monkeys, he spoke at a slow pace and with precise pronunciation, attempting to describe the whole situation.
The monkeys were very anxious since they didn’t understand what he was talking about, scratching their ears and chins constantly and yelling at him with a pointing finger.
Gu Qing knew the monkeys were upset with him; but he shrugged with an innocent expression, thinking, What else can I do?!
A little monkey climbed into the cabin from the window and brought out a piece of paper, waving it in his hand.
Gu Qing slapped his forehead, wondering why he was too stupid to think of this method first.
The monkeys shrugged with as innocent an expression, thinking, Well, you know now!
After grinding the ink and opening up the white paper, the problem became what it was he should right down.
He didn’t know who would eventually receive this letter.
After some thought, he finally wrote down a few sentences, not forgetting to write with his left hand, which was his bad writing hand.
"I don’t know who you are, but Liu Shisui needs your help."
Liu Shisui was released the next day.
The regular disciples by the Stream of Sword Washing and the people of the nine peaks all felt quite surprised.
Shangde Peak didn’t offer any explanation.
Nobody went to meet Liu Shisui.
When Liu Shisui arrived on Tianguang Peak, he didn’t see his Senior Master Bai Rujing, receiving instead countless strange gazes.
Gu Han showed up during the late-night hours.
"For the true path of the world, some sacrifices are worthwhile."
Patting his hand on Liu’s shoulder, Gu Han said with a soothing tone, "Big Brother wants to come in person, but worries that he might be seen by others."
Liu Shisui asked, "Why would Shangde Peak let me out? It was earlier than planned."
"Our dear Senior Master has spoken of course," Gu Han said.
Thinking that his release was arranged by the Sect Master himself, Liu Shisui felt the burden on his shoulders was ever heavier now.
After Gu Qing left, he sat by the window, staring at the oil lamp silently for a long time.
He suddenly missed Jing Jiu, or missed the days when they were in the small village, by the pond, under the big tree, listening to the songs of cicadas.
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