Nan Wang also heard what Zhao Layue had just said, asking, "Are you sure about this?"
Many people knew that Zhao Layue had entered the middle state of the Undefeated two years ago, and it would normally be impossible for her to break through the state again in such a short period of time.
Though she was a rare talent in Cultivation with the natural Dao quality, her Cultivation time was somehow too short due to her current age, so she had absolutely no chance of winning against Luo Huainan since their Cultivation states were so far apart.
"Definitely," answered Zhao Layue without hesitation.
Even though their Cultivation states were different, Nan Wang and Zhao Layue were both the peak masters of Green Mountain, so Nan Wang couldn't say anything against Layue's decision, besides shaking her head. Other disciples, of course, didn't dare advise against Layue's choice.
It was then that Bai Zao had finished her zither playing.
It was quiet on the cold platforms.
For many people, the saying "The winner is guaranteed to be Water-Moon Nunnery" would be irrelevant if no one else from the Water-Moon Nunnery came out to challenge Bai Zao.
During the next moment, the quietness of the Cold Platform was disturbed by a barrage of discussions.
The commotion was caused by the news passing around on the cold platforms at the higher levels.
The Green Mountain Sect had also received some news.
Tian Jingren was resting somewhere in the city. It was most likely that Luo Huainan and Tong Yan went to visit him, since they were absent at the Plum Meeting that day.
It was an extremely good prospect to obtain Tian Jingren's evaluation. If one could get some positive evaluations from Tian Jingren, he would possess a higher status among the Cultivation practitioners of all sects and have more Cultivation resources in his disposal. Almost every young disciple was tempted by the opportunity to meet this significant figure. However, this was the important Plum Meeting, attended by many imperial court ministers and masters of sects, who would dare to leave the Cold Platform without permission?
Jing Jiu noticed the changed expression on Zhao Layue's face, asking, "Want to have a look?"
"I'm just curious," Zhao Layue responded.
Jing Jiu said, "Let's go then."
After informing Nan Wang, the two of them stood up and headed toward the bottom of the Cold Platform.
Many people noticing the commotion caused by Jing Jiu and Zhao Layue felt startled, thinking that since the tournament wasn't over, and the Young Zen Master hadn't made a judgment yet, how could the two of them leave the Cold Platform?
Watching the back of those two figures, Bai Zao furrowed her eyebrows slightly, looking even more weak and feeble.
She knew why Zhao Layue and Jing Jiu were leaving.
And she didn't mind. It was actually her arrangement for Luo Huainan and Tong Yan to meet the rumored master of destiny prediction, and they had probably already met by now.
What she did mind, or was somewhat disappointed by, was the fact that Zhao Layue was so impatient to meet Tian Jingren; was Zhao Layue in need of somebody's positive evaluation to boost her own confidence?
How could someone like Zhao Layue be good enough to be her competitor?
After Jing Jiu and Zhao Layue came to the back end of the Plum Garden and walked on the mountain path through two curves, they disappeared from the crowd's vision.
Zhao Layue had already accepted some of Jing Jiu's weird habits after the long journey with him before, like preferring walking to riding the sword unless it was absolutely necessary to ride.
They were walking on the mountain path and conversing casually.
Jing Jiu knew that the person Zhao Layue really wanted to meet wasn't Tian Jingren, but Luo Huainan, who was probably visiting Tian Jingren at this very moment because of the Cultivation tournament ten days later.
"If the rumor is true, then you are no match for him," Jing Jiu remarked.
Zhao Layue stated, "It can only be confirmed after the actual combat."
This statement reflected her attitude toward Cultivation.
The path toward heaven was very hazardous; if you were afraid this, that, or the other, why would you bother cultivating at all?
Jing Jiu glanced at her once without saying anything.
Zhao Layue remembered clearly that he glanced at her the same way when she announced earlier she wanted to take part in the Cultivation tournament. Though Jing Jiu didn't say anything, the implication was obvious.
"You don't support my decision, right?"
She didn't quite understand the reason.
In the past few years, Jing Jiu had never stopped her various dangerous journeys, regardless of whether it was purging demons or killing the evildoers with the flying sword.
So why does he not support my idea of participating in the Cultivation tournament this time?
"While I haven't participated in the Cultivation tournament at the Plum Meeting before, I know something about it," Jing Jiu said.
Zhao Layue responded, "I don't care even if it means the path to victory will be covered in blood."
Jing Jiu stared at her and said seriously, though in a calm voice, "That is the real world."
Zhao Layue got serious as well, saying, "I know what the real world is."
"Those combats during our long journey were not quite real, merely somewhat real. The reality I'm talking about is something I don't even want to touch myself," Jing Jiu said while staring into Layue's eyes.
"What is the reality then?" asked Zhao Layue.
Jing Jiu answered, "Death is the reality…one's own death, to be accurate."
It was then that they arrived at the middle part of the mountain.
The breeze ruffled the wild trees on the cliffs. The scenery was marvelous. But the singing birds were still on the other side of the mountain, close to the Plum Garden, so the scenery was not as lovely as it could be.
Zhao Layue said after a long silence in thought, "I don't understand."
"It's better that way," Jing Jiu said.
All of a sudden, Zhao Layue felt Jing Jiu was drifting away from her when he said the above words.
It seemed that she saw an endless abyss on Jing Jiu's beautiful face.
That abyss was him drifting away.
This feeling made her uncomfortable, so she changed the topic awkwardly, "Though I'm not interested in the tournament, I'm still curious about the final result."
The tournament she talked about wasn't the Cultivation tournament, but the zither tournament that day.
Jing Jiu reiterated the popular saying in the Cultivation world, "The winner is guaranteed to be the Water-Moon Nunnery."
The sound of a zither suddenly rang out in the sky.
It came from the Cold Platform.
The zither sound was very faint, coming all the way from the other side of the mountain; but it was clear to them that this sound contained tremendous strength and energy.
Soon after, the second zither sound rang out, and hadn't stopped. However, this zither music wasn't fluid like water. It was bumpy and chaotic, without even a basic musical rhythm, let alone ear-pleasing tones. Yet, Jing Jiu somehow seemed moved by this zither music, as he halted his steps and didn't speak for a long time, standing by the cliff's edge as he looked at the sky.
It was different from the situation when Bai Zao played the zither; the birds didn't sing with the music when this person played. It wasn't that the birds didn't like the music, rather that they didn't dare make any sound.
The plucking of this person's zither was obviously not proficient, more like that of a beginner, but the sound coming out from it was very dominating. It felt like this music would suppress all other sounds of all heaven and earth.
The treetops ruffled by the mountain wind and the waterfalls reaching deep into ravine, not even these made a single sound while this person was playing the zither, to say nothing of the birds.
All other flowers die as mine bloom.
Heaven and earth shall listen quietly as I create my sound.
That was the power this music possessed.
Zhao Layue could still feel the residual energy in the mountain. She held back the shocking feeling and looked at Jing Jiu's profile, recalling the scenes when they were in Haizhou last year.
This person played the zither just like Jing Jiu played chess.
Playing it like a beginner.
It didn't sound good.
It didn't look good.
But it had no parallel.
Jing Jiu was seemingly pondering something while looking at the sky.
A patch of cloud flowing high in the sky had been torn to pieces by the zither's sound.
"Who could this person be?" Zhao Layue asked with a whisper.
Though Jing Jiu didn't know who this person was, he knew this person's background.
Because Jing Jiu identified the features of a known person from the music being played.
"The Water-Moon Nunnery," he said.
This answer reminded Zhao Layue of that popular saying: "The winner is guaranteed to be the Water-Moon Nunnery".
Then she recalled a common-looking woman of the Water-Moon Nunnery on the cold platform.
For some unknown reason, she once again felt the same feeling of drifting apart as when Jing Jiu said "It's better that way". Her Dao heart was vaguely disturbed.
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