In Zhaoge City, the chess stalls were concentrated on this street outside the original Plum Garden.
Some of the chess stall owners were highly achieved chess players, and a few of them were the disciples of the major chess training houses who were simply bored. And of course, some of them were just using chess stalls to scam others.
The remaining games were the most complicated and were therefore used by swindlers as a shortcut to scam money; but the remaining games were also the simplest.
To disentangle a remaining game often requires one step, but that step is usually unthinkable for most people.
The remaining game at the second stall had been played for ten years on this street, and nobody could unravel it until now. Even some high-level chess players of the popular chess houses had failed to do it after they came upon hearing of the unsolvable remaining game.
The crowd had suddenly become quiet because that young man moved a certain chess piece.
They figured out the possibility for the stall owner of the remaining game to lose the game based on his facial expression. So, they were shocked speechless.
The owner of the first stall and the owner of this remaining game stall were not only neighbors, but also the brothers of the same chess master.
He knew full well how difficult or how treacherous this remaining game was.
After their master had taught them this remaining game, it became the biggest secret of these two chess brothers; and the remaining game helped them win countless amounts of money.
The brothers hadn't revealed the secret no matter how much money they were offered by the disciples of those major chess houses, or how badly they were threatened; and the younger brother had one of his hands damaged because of their unwillingness to reveal the secret.
Yet… how come this young man moved that certain chess piece first? Did he discover the secret of the remaining game by just one glance?
They saw the shocked expressions in each other's eyes when the two chess brothers eyed one each other.
A person who could easily destroy their master's remaining game must be a national level chess player…
But, why did a figure of such a skill in chess-playing come here?
Even though there were some hidden chess masters on this street, they were usually playing in the stalls located in the middle part of the street. Their chess stalls were positioned in this abandoned area, near the ruined garden, so fewer people went there. Did he come here to undermine their business? Or, was he a high-level chess player invited by a chess house?
Having thought of all this, the owner of the first chess stall got angry after his initial shock subdued, yelling, "We aren't going anywhere. You can do nothing about it!"
The young man with a tender face had walked to the third chess stall when he heard what the first stall owner said. The young man turned his head around and shot a glimpse at the speaker, saying emotionlessly, "You will die if you do not leave."
The stall owner was about to say something more, but he suddenly felt a chill run through his core as he caught the young man's gaze.
The crowd experienced the same feeling, as if the spring weather in Zhaoge City had returned to the freezing cold of winter in a split second.
A brief thought moves the heaven and earth. This is the power of the Cultivation practitioners.
The owner of the remaining game stall, his face ashen, came over and pulled his big brother with a trembling hand, gesturing for him to stop talking.
The young brother's hand had been damaged six years ago by hooligans on the orders of the chess houses. That hand of his would tremble under the cloudy weather or due to fear, as the aftermath of the violence.
When they learned this young man was a Cultivation practitioner, the crowd stepped back, keeping a safe distance from him; out of fear and reverence.
"May I ask why this immortal master is here?"
As a street filled with the greatest number of chess stalls in Zhaoge City, the chess games and their spectators contributed to the street's economy, no matter how diminutive the contribution was; so, someone was bound to take care of the business.
It was only natural for the caretaker to come out and deal with the matter, when a young man was seen disturbing the business.
Having seen the middle-aged man in green robe, the crowd bowed and greeted him in reverence, "Mister He."
This Mister He was an ordinary disciple of the Chunxi Chess House in Zhaoge City, but he was well respected on this street.
The behind-the-scenes owner of the Chunxi Chess House was King Cheng, who loved playing chess. So, Mister He was not afraid of the young man, but he still had to speak to him with respect.
The chess brothers glanced at each other, and they felt startled and confused at the same time, thinking this young man wasn't someone paid by the Chunxi Chess House to destroy them.
The young man shot a glance at Mister He and said emotionlessly, "My purpose is simple, and that is to drive the likes of you people out of here."
Mister He was a little bewildered, and so he then asked, "May you tell us the reason?"
"The reason is also simple. It's because you people don't have the qualifications to play chess."
All the people on the street had learned of the incident and gathered over.
The uproar arose after having heard what the young man said.
The expression on Mister He had changed a touch, saying, "This immortal master has an extraordinary ability in the playing of chess, but you have no need to…"
He didn't finish his sentence, but what he wanted to express was apparent—why did a Cultivation practitioner bully the weak?
However, Mister He failed to realize it was chess playing - not a fist fight.
The young man didn't heed what Mister He said, turning toward the stall owner on the other side, "You must get the hell out of here if you lose; I'll die if I lose," he declared.
His expression was nonchalant, showing the absolute self-confidence, and uncaring attitude towards life and death.
He didn't look at the stall owner while speaking, but at a wild weed on the eaves.
It was an unpleasant feeling when someone didn't even bother to look at you in the eyes, but somewhere above you.
Mister He, the stall owner, and the crowd all felt unpleasant.
"Let's play then. I don't believe you can beat all of us!"
It was obvious that the young man was attempting to drive out all the chess stalls on the street.
His intention and actions had already enraged the crowd.
On this street there were those who scammed people by using the secretive remaining games; some stall owners relied on their skills to win money; and once in awhile a high-level chess player would show up, playing for a little fun, just like Mister He, a disciple of the Chunxi Chess House. The owners of the stalls further down the street were even more skillful. How could the young man expect to win all the way down the street, even if he did have extraordinary skills?
Besides, there was always the possibility that the famous chess masters of Zhaoge City could be asked to come and defeat him if they were being pushed into a corner.
The young man was nonchalant in such a noisy and chaotic environment, waving his hand to gesture for the stall owner to move first.
Zhao Layue fixed her gaze on the chess board.
"This game is called the Xiang Chess," Jing Jiu commented.
"Though I don't know how to play it, I somehow know this much."
Zhao Layue shot a glance at him.
She wanted to say something but didn't.
Jing Jiu understood what was on her mind.
He looked at the young man with a tender and childlike face.
The young man wasn't really staring above others' head. It was because his eyebrows were very sparse, so it appeared that he was always looking at a higher spot, giving others the feeling that he was looking down on them.
It was as if he was looking down on everyone in the world, especially those in front of the chess boards.
The young man reminded Jing Jiu of a known person, the same known person reminded of by the zither music heard in the mountain.
The way this young man played the chess was the same as the known person killing people back then.
The war and fire continued for three months.
They didn't feel like drinking tea opposite each other.
Jing Jiu had a complicated emotion at the moment, so he didn't want to watch the game anymore.
"Let's go. It's too noisy here."
Yes, it was noisy everywhere in Zhaoge City that day.
At the Plum Meeting, the zither sounds and cheers, and the flute sounds and the birds' singing, had already made much noise for a long while.
Outside of the imperial palace, the squeaking sounds of wooden wheels rolling along green stone slabs and the crisp breaking sounds of teacups falling on the ground by accident were even more annoying.
Jing Jiu and Zhao Layue left the sounds of chess pieces landing heavily on the boards, with their accompanying cheers or sighs, on the street behind them.
They came to the front of the old garden. As their world became quieter once again, another sound came out from the deep end of the plum forest.
That sound was very clean, gentle and ear-pleasing, like the clanking sound of a pearl curtain ruffled by the wind, or the sound of the raindrops falling onto the leaves of a lotus.
Zhao Layue felt a bit surprised, asking, "The Hanging-bell Sect?"
The old plum garden was very quiet, with the plum trees covered with dust, and no visitors present; but the residual energy of many formations could still be felt.
These formations were quite strong. It would be hard for Jing Jiu and Zhao Layue to disable them in their current Cultivation states.
Unless Zhao Layue made use of her Thoughtless Sword, or he made use of his special talent.
Fortunately, someone had already entered the plum forest, and disabled these formations.
The formations had been disabled by the sounds of the ringing bell.
Jing Jiu arched his eyebrows.
It looked like that young girl was even more anxious than them to meet the person.
What on earth did she want to ask Tian Jingren about?
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