It was late at night. All of a sudden, the monkeys screamed on the cliff, then their screaming died down. It seemed that they were disturbed by something.
Gu Qing and youth Yuan walked out from their manor cave, and saw a figure approaching them, walking along the mountain path. They were surprised, especially Gu Qing.
The person wore a blue cotton sword robe, looking like ink in the night. Yet it appeared clean rather than dirty.
What was Guo Nanshan doing here on Shenmo Peak in the dead of night? Was he looking for trouble or revenge for his injuries sustained earlier in the day?
Gu Qing had been Guo Nanshan’s sword attendant for many years. He felt uncomfortable to see his former master on Shenmo Peak; he simply cupped his hands without saying a word.
Sitting in the bamboo chair, Jing Jiu didn’t even take notice of his arrival, let alone stand up.
In generational terms, he was Guo Nanshan’s senior master, so it was a common thing to do.
However, Guo Nanshan, as the principal disciple of the Sect Master, had a special status on the Green Mountain, and he always received a warm welcome regardless of which peak he went to. He had never been treated like this.
But he didn’t display any kind of negative reaction. He walked over to the big rock by the cliff edge and sat on it by himself.
Youth Yuan glanced at Gu Qing nervously. There was a question in the expression in his eyes: should they bring a cup of tea for their guest?
Gu Qing didn’t move, and stayed in the same spot.
The moment he saw Guo Nanshan, he was about to come over to the cliff edge to pour a cup of tea for him.
He had been used to doing it when he was on Liangwang Peak.
He knew Guo Nanshan liked the cheap jasmine tea, and preferred using the western ocean iron-kettle to brew a bowl of red tea before bed.
After a moment he realized he wasn’t a sword attendant on Liangwang Peak, but a disciple of Shenmo Peak, so he only needed to obey his current master.
If Jing Jiu asked him to pour tea, he would; if Jing Jiu didn’t say anything, he wouldn’t do it. It was as simple as that.
Guo Nanshan didn’t look at Gu Qing. He picked up the teapot from the table, poured a cup of cold water, and drank it. "My lung was injured, so I feel thirsty quite often," he said.
His injury was caused by Jing Jiu, but his voice was very peaceful. He didn’t mean to blame Jing Jiu for it, but simply explained his condition.
"It has nothing to do with you. It was my own fault."
"I have entered the State of Free Travel a few days ago," Guo Nanshan said to Jing Jiu, "so I got too arrogant. Today I attempted something beyond my ability, so I have learned my lesson."
Jing Jiu shot a glimpse at him.
"I said to you three years ago that maybe you had some kind of misunderstanding about Liangwang Peak," Guo Nanshan continued. "It looks like your misunderstanding is quite deep."
"Did you come here to relieve the misunderstanding?" Jing Jiu asked.
Guo Nanshan shook his head. "Seeing isn’t always believing, let alone speaking. You said we had different ways, so I don’t want to force you to accept our way."
"Why are you here then?" asked Jing Jiu.
"I just wanted to tell you," said Guo Nanshan, "if something similar happens again in the future, I hope you won’t do the same as you did today. It was so excessive."
Jing Jiu didn’t respond.
"I’m here to ask you, not to beg you," continued Guo Nanshan. "As Young Brother Gu Han has already learned your sword style, it’s impossible for you to defeat him again."
By this, Guo Nanshan meant that if Jing Jiu couldn’t defeat Gu Han, then Jing Jiu had no chance of defeating him.
"If you’re here just to talk nonsense, you’d better not come here again," said Jing Jiu.
This signaled the time to send the guest off.
Or to drive the guest away.
Gu Qing came up and raised his right hand, motioning for Guo Nanshan to leave.
Guo Nanshan stared at Gu Qing very hard, but didn’t say anything.
Guo Nanshan came up the peak on foot, since his sword was broken, and he came to Shnemo Peak to see a senior.
Walking from the peak to the cliffside, he couldn’t help but shake his head when he saw the cabin occupied by the monkeys.
He turned around, looking at Shenmo Peak. The lonely peak looked like a sword under the stars in the night sky.
Of the nine peaks of Green Mountain, Shenmo Peak was the loneliest, so it was unparalleled.
He had his reasons for coming all the way here tonight.
His magic sword was broken and he was wounded badly himself. He came to Shenmo Peak at night not to lay blame, but to offer advice.
Guo Nanshan thought he had showed forgiveness and attempted to mend their relationship.
Unexpectedly, Jing Jiu was unaffected.
Thinking of Gu Qing, his former sword attendant who had served him for many years, he couldn’t help but raise his sword-like eyebrows.
This lonely peak had some kind of magic power, he thought, to make everyone who came here act like a Senior Grandmaster!
"If you fight Gu Han again, will you be able to win?"
Zhao Layue asked Jing Jiu while she was walking out of the manor cave.
She heard what Guo Nanshan had said.
"As I said to you, my swordsmanship has no equal in the Green Mountains," said Jing Jiu.
"Even if he has learned your sword fighting style?" asked Zhao Layue.
"You have to remember one fact," Jing Jiu said.
Zhao Layue paid close attention.
Gu Qing and youth Yuan focused their attention as well.
"Everything is a sword," said Jing Jiu. "It’s impossible to have only one fighting style!"
It was two hundred miles from Tianguang Peak to the South Pine Pavilion.
And another one hundred miles from the South Pine Pavilion to the small village.
If you were riding a sword, it took only three hours to get back to the small village. And it took at most half a day if your Sword Source was inadequate, needing rests and meditation at regular intervals.
Eight or nine days were needed to walk on foot.
It would take a whole month for someone who had just been stripped of their Cultivation and Sword Pill.
Coming back to the small village after three years and seeing the small bamboo wooded area and the pond, Liu Shisui seemed to be regaining his strength. His weak and wobbling footsteps became stronger and steadier.
Coming to the front of the small courtyard and seeing the half-closed door, he called out after a long moment of hesitation. "Father, I’m back."
It was night.
Lying in the bed, Liu Shisui couldn’t fall asleep. He rolled back and forth constantly.
He could hear the voices in the next room clearly. It was divided by a thin wall. The disappointed and angry cursing was gradually replaced by sighing and grunting.
If Liu Shisui’s mother didn’t protect him, considering his terrible physical condition, his father would have hit him so hard that the stick he used to hit him would have broken.
The next room fell silent for a while. Then Shisui’s mother started weeping again.
Liu Shisui felt a pain in his chest while he stared at the ceiling.
He still felt the pain even one month after his Sword Pill had been destroyed and his meridians cut off.
The only comforting thing was that his parents were still in good health, like the last time he came back to visit them, without a single strand of white hair on their heads or wrinkles on their faces.
The next day, many villagers heard the news and came to Liu’s house.
The village chief, who had grown older, asked a few questions and smoked his pipe for some time. But he couldn’t offer much comfort. He simply patted Liu Shisui’s shoulder.
The third day, Liu Shisui thought he had had enough rest and recovery, so he walked out the house.
It was the spring sowing season, and a busy time for farm work. Liu Shisui wanted to help out.
He walked from his house to his family field, which took some time as the distance was not short.
On the way, he met many villagers, some of them he knew, who were his seniors and peers. Some of the children he didn’t know at all.
Those children would have been born during the seven years he was in the Green Mountains.
Whether he knew them or not, the villagers and children turned their heads away when they saw him.
After he passed by them, they would gaze at him again, or more accurately, at his back.
Those gazes were complicated; they contained mockery, repugnance, and fear.
Liu Shisui could feel their complicated gazes, but he didn’t turn his head.
Arriving at his family field, he found it had already been irrigated. The water in the field was unruffled, reflecting the blue sky and white clouds. It looked wonderful.
His father was planting the seedlings. His mother had just filled up two pots of spring water, and was about to go back home to cook a meal. She didn’t say anything when she saw him approach.
Liu Shisui took a handful of the seedlings from his father and stepped into the water-filled field.
His feet stuck in the wet mud, and he was so weak that he couldn’t pull them out again. Eventually he fell down on his butt.
Laughter rang out from the nearby fields, but soon stopped. Then there was cursing and weeping.
The blue sky and white clouds reflected on the water surface of the field scattered into pieces.
Liu Shisui sat in the waterlogged field for a while. Now, he realized, he was useless.
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