There had been three pieces of shocking news in the first day at the Plum Meeting.
The first news was that the final winner of the zither tournament at the Plum Meeting wasn't the favorite contestant from the Center Sect, Bai Zao, but a young woman from the Water-Moon Nunnery, named Guo Dong. It was said that she was the personal disciple of Lian Sanyue's, with a normal appearance. She claimed that this was her first time playing zither; but her zither playing earned the praise from the Young Zen Master, and even Bai Zao admitted that she herself wasn't as good.
The popular saying "The winner is guaranteed to be the Water-Moon Nunnery" in the Cultivation world had been proven again to be true.
The second news was that Tong Yan didn't participate in the first day of the Plum Meeting. Instead he went to the old plum garden; and he had won more than thirty chess games in the street outside the garden, and he even defeated the number one chess player of the imperial court, Grand Scholar Guo who joined after hearing the event, at the game's mid-stage. In addition, the conversations between Tong Yan and Jing Jiu were extremely interesting.
The most important news was what had happened in the old plum garden.
Tian Jingren, whom many people had been searching for diligently, was actually cultivating in the old plum garden. Luo Huainan had successfully met Tian Jingren, and his questions had already been revealed. As Jing Jiu had predicted, his reputation had indeed improved tremendously. Many people knew that Zhao Layue and Jing Jiu had also entered the nunnery, but nobody knew what questions they had posed, or how Tian Jingren had replied.
Nor did anyone know that another incident had taken place last night.
Jing Jiu had entered the imperial palace. The Emperor had a long talk with this presently regular disciple of the Green Mountain Sect.
A thin fog emerged in the old plum garden in the early morning.
Tian Jingren liked to keep it simple while traveling, and he declined the protection requests either from the high level swordsmen of the West Ocean Sword Sect, or from the disciples of the White-Deer Institute. He merely brought with him a child who served all of his needs. The more Tian Jingren kept his life simple, the more prominent his reputation became in the world, gaining more respect and reverence from the public.
The child rubbed his still-sleepy eyes and was about to pick a few red plum flowers for a vase.
The officers of the Pure Heaven Bureau who had kept surveillance all night outside the old plum garden saw the scene, and abruptly sent the news to the imperial palace after making sure that Tian Jingren hadn't left yet.
Soon afterwards, a letter was sent from the imperial palace to the Net Perception Temple.
Then, a letter was sent from the Net Perception Temple to the old plum garden.
At the moment, the child had just finished tending to the red plum flowers in the vase, yawning in tandem.
After receiving the letter, Tian Jingren found out the contents of the letter simply by touching it with his fingers, either through his heavenly awareness, or because of the Zen ideas attached to the letter reaching his mind directly.
The letter was written by the Young Zen Master, inviting him to have a talk in the Net Perception Temple that day.
Tian Jingren remained silent for a while, and said, "Get the carriage ready. We're going to the Net Perception Temple."
The child was a bit surprised and at the same time a little worried as well.
That grand master in Zen who was just as famous as his master wanted to meet his master, maybe he had the intention of competing with his master.
Since his master spat blood the previous day, could he withstand it?
The spring rain stopped a while ago.
The earth grew soft after being soaked by the night's rainwater, and the green stone slabs reflected the glittering light, looking like inky jades.
The flower petals, blown off the trees by the wind, landed on the wet ground, looking like the colorful decorations just made by a painter, a marvelous scene.
Tian Jingren couldn't see such beautiful scenes, but he could smell the wet scent in the air, the smoke flavor coming from an ancient temple, and the faint aroma of the flower petals.
"Accompanied by the flowers and the spring wind, I should have a drink," Tian Jingren said.
"The monks cannot drink alcohol."
A voice came from nowhere.
It was very quiet in the early morning at the Net Perception Temple, without the bell ringing or monks walking around; and were those incenses producing white smoke lit last night?
The child who was holding Tian Jingren's arm had disappeared at the moment, nowhere to be found.
That person's footsteps were rather strange, like a cat drinking water or a horse treading in mud.
He was a young man, with a thin layer of black hair, and the dark-red Zen robe on his body was half-open, appearing carefree.
His eyes were clean and bright, but his bare feet that were covered in wet mud looked filthy.
Tian Jingren said with a gentle smile, "Alcohol and meat simply pass through the intestines and bowels."
"If you ate it, then you ate it; if you did it, then you did it. It's too unnatural to state that they don't exist," said the young monk while waving his hand.
Tian Jingren didn't saying anything further, bowing slightly as he asked, "Young Zen Master called me here, what are you going to teach me?"
This young man was actually the rumored Young Zen Master.
In the eyes of those regular Cultivation practitioners and the mortals, Tian Jingren and this young monk were the same in fame and popularity.
However, Tian Jingren knew full well that he was far inferior to this young monk regardless of whether it was generation, status or Cultivation state, so he greeted the young monk reverently.
"The Emperor invited you and me to Zhaoge City with an apparent intention, so what are your thoughts?" the Young Zen Master asked.
Tian Jingren said, "The matter regards the destiny of our human race, so I didn't dare refuse the invitation by citing the reason the heavenly path is hard to foretell. I'll do my best to calculate to have a peace of mind."
"I heard that you and the Crown Prince talked about the period of one hundred years yesterday, is that true?" the Young Zen Master asked curiously.
Tian Jingren didn't deny it, saying, "That is all I could calculate based on my ability."
The Young Zen Master felt a bit itchy, and he scratched his chest a few times; then he walked under a peach tree and rubbed his feet against it to leave mud on the tree.
"That I invited you here is because I have received a letter from the Emperor this early morning."
Tian Jingren couldn't see any object, and his eyes couldn't display any emotion either. "Is that so?" he asked calmly.
The Young Zen Master said, "The ink in the letter isn't dry yet, so it had just been written. I guess that the Emperor perhaps hasn't slept the entire night, quite worried."
Tian Jingren complimented, "It's really fortunate for the people that their emperor is worried about their country and people, and is diligent at managing the state affairs."
The Young Zen Master nodded satisfactorily when he was certain that the mud on his feet had been mostly rubbed clean, and said, "Is the matter related to the state? No, he was worried about the child of an old friend."
Tian Jingren vaguely guessed what he referred to, his white gray eyeballs showing a hint of calm and deep intention.
"Is he Fang Jingtian?" the Young Zen Master asked suddenly.
He had discovered Fang Jingtian the moment the fake Immortal Jing Yang's manor house was opened.
It was because Fang Jingtian generated a murderous intent toward Jing Jiu at that moment.
It was this reason why he used the propitious cloud to protect Jing Jiu leaving.
Tian Jingren didn't answer this question.
The morning sunlight filled the entire courtyard, and the sky appeared deep blue, but the sun itself was nowhere to be found.
The Young Zen Master looked at the sky, and murmured to himself, "Is it because of the story of that known person?"
"Since the Young Zen Master has already made a decision on the matter, you didn't intend to listen to me anyway, when you invited me here," Tian Jingren said calmly.
After retrieving his gaze, the Young Zen Master said while looking at him, "You're right. You and I both understand that all the things exist only in one thought, so it's unimportant whether to tell it or not."
Tian Jingren understood what the young monk meant, but he was still a bit baffled, asking, "Why would Young Zen Master take care of this matter?"
"It's because that young man should be the child of my old friend."
The Young Zen Master's voice was full of sentimental memories.
In the next moment, he walked toward the far end of the forest, caring less for the wet mud sticking to his feet again.
The Young Zen Master left in such a manner.
It was rather quiet in the forest.
On the wet and soft lawn were the footprints left by the Young Zen Master.
The wet soil showed underneath the trampled grass.
A white lotus flower grew from the soil.
These were the intents left by the Young Zen Master.
Looking in the direction of these white lotus flowers growing from the soil, Tian Jingren's white gray eyes bore the trace of a deathlike aura.
He didn't know if he could leave here alive.
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