Some people on the Green Mountain had suspected that Jing Jiu was from the Fruit Formation Temple.
As he and Zhao Layue climbed Shenmo Peak after the Sword Trial of Green Mountain, someone had seen how they got atop the peak, so Jing Jiu was suspected by Shangde Peak.
However, more people thought Shangde Peak had told an unfunny joke after hundreds of years of never joking
Several peak masters made the shocking statement as they witnessed the swords coming out from Jing Jiu's body during his victorious battle against Gu Han at the Sword Trial of Green Mountain.
This time, some people started believing in this conjecture, and at least thought there must be some relationship between Jing Jiu and the Fruit Formation Temple.
This conjecture became more persuasive after the chess tournament of the Plum Meeting. Even Nan Wang wondered whether she should ask her Sect Master to write a private letter to the Fruit Formation Temple for confirmation.
It was because Jing Jiu's ability to calculate was so outstanding on the chess board that it was beyond even imagination.
Many people thought maybe it was the two-minds connection of the Fruit Formation Temple that helped Jing Jiu guess Tong Yan's each response.
The most important part was that the Fruit Formation Temple didn't deny it when this started spreading in the Cultivation circle!
If this was proven to be true, it would be the same as a young man sent by the Fruit Formation Temple for experiencing the mundane world had once again become the personal disciple of Immortal Jing Yang.
Many people couldn't help but speculate from this legendary experience that Jing Jiu might become the second Broadsword King!
They were unaware that some important figures at the Green Mountain Sect had already had similar thoughts a long time ago.
Jing Jiu had attracted more and more attention, and people became more anxious to find out about his performance in the Cultivation tournament.
Though Tong Yan was behind closed doors back on Cloud Dream Mountain, some strong swordsmen of the young generation, like Luo Huainan, Bai Zao, and Tong Lu, would participate in the Cultivation tournament. Jing Jiu was expected to bring some exciting results.
Yet soon people were disappointed.
The news from the West Mountain Residence was that Jing Jiu didn't plan to take part in the Cultivation tournament.
It was Zhao Layue who would represent Shenmo Peak to participate in the Cultivation tournament.
Ten days after the chess tournament, the spring atmosphere prevailed in Zhaoge City. The rain was nowhere to be seen, and a feeling of summer was in the air.
The shifting clouds in the blue sky landed on the lake. The scene looked marvelous when the shifting clouds were accompanied by the droopy willows on the lakeshore and the flying eaves were visible from time to time.
The Zhao family were the nobles in Zhaoge City. Their nobility was only one notch below the state Duke. They had been wealthy for generations. Yet they were low-key for twenty years because of a certain mistress, though they couldn't remain low-key anymore for that very reason. In the early spring, they spent a great deal of money to renovate their second manor house outside the city, making it look like a fairy realm.
It was because the mistress would come back to Zhaoge City in spring and would bring a colleague home with her, which was stated clearly in the letter.
The mistress had such a special identity, so someone she invited must be very unique! The scenery had to be like the fairy realm to be suitable for two immortal masters.
The head of the boat broke through the blue sky and white clouds reflected on the water. The boat was shifting on the lake freely since nobody rowed the boat.
"The winner of the calligraphy is Bai Zao."
Zhao Layue sat at the head of the boat, her hair tousled by the breeze.
Jing Jiu was somewhat surprised to hear this news while lying on the bamboo chair, wondering why the winner wasn't someone from the One-Cottage House?
Zhao Layue continued, "Many people didn't expect that she could defeat those scholars of the One-Cottage House after giving up her specialty, painting."
Jing Jiu thought about it and said, "It seems she is a very clever person, just like Tong Yan."
Zhao Layue didn't quite understand what he meant.
Jing Jiu added, "There is a saying in the Cultivation circle that calligraphy isn't as good as painting when used as an aid for seeking Dao. It's because painting is the original form, and calligraphy requires us to add meaning to the shapes. I believe Bai Zao has thought it through when she decided to give up painting for calligraphy, since the meaning we apply to the shapes is the aim we are after during our Cultivation."
Zhao Layue said, "This must have been on your mind that day when you played that chess game with Tong Yan."
Jing Jiu asked, "What about you?"
This question was quite sudden, but Zhao Layue knew he just wanted to find out what was on her mind.
Zhao Layue, Bai Zao and Guo Dong were compared constantly by the Cultivation world and even the entire land.
At this year's Plum Meeting, Guo Dong was the winner of the zither tournament, and Bai Zao became the winner of the calligraphy tournament unexpectedly. What would Zhao Layue become?
The news that Zhao Layue would participate in the Cultivation tournament had already been sold by the Curtain Rollers. In recent days, this became a well-known secret.
She didn't answer his question. "You're not really a monk, are you?" asked Zhao Layue when she thought of the inquiry the Curtain Rollers had to handle most often lately.
"You know I'm not," Jing Jiu said.
Zhao Layue asked, "Why haven't the achieved monks of the Fruit Formation Temple tried to clear the rumor?"
Jing Jiu said, "This situation has happened before, because monks are selfish as well.
"What benefits do they get from this?" asked Zhao Layue, bewildered.
"Doing so can protect that real disciple experiencing the mundane world. If I could achieve more in the future, it's better for their reputation."
Jing Jiu didn't want to continue the topic, so he asked directly, "How are you going to fight in the Cultivation tournament?"
Zhao Layue replied, "I just fight, or do you have some good ideas?"
"I'm not good at these things, and I believe you should be better at it than I am," said Jing Jiu.
Jing Jiu left without having supper.
Zhao Layue wasn't surprised, since he usually didn't eat much.
Jing Jiu ate only a few green vegetables in the watery soup when they had hotpots during their long travel, and most of the time he merely looked at those vegetables rather than eat them.
Zhao Layue was surprised to hear that Jing Jiu had to leave due to some private affair matter he had to see to. What affair on earth could a lazy person like Jing Jiu have?
And he didn't tell her what it was.
It was better this way, though. Zhao Layue also had her own affairs to take care of, and she didn't want him to know about it.
"Please come out."
Zhao Layue said this to the person in the pavilion on the lake.
A moment later, a young woman in white clothing appeared in the pavilion. "This is Mo Xi of the Water-Moon Nunnery. Greetings, Peak Master," said Mo Xi while bowing to Zhao Layue.
"What's the matter?" asked Zhao Layue as she looked at this woman, whom she had once before met.
"Big Sister Guo Dong would like to meet you in the Mingcui Valley three days from now," said Mo Xi in a low voice. It was hard to see her expression as she lowered her head.
Zhao Layue arched her eyebrows.
It was obvious that Guo Dong wanted to meet her in private.
Zhao Layue wasn't surprised at Guo Dong's invitation since Zhao Layue had already felt her gaze on the cold platform of the Plum Meeting and on the Chess Board Mountain.
The emotions in her gaze were quite interesting. They could be care, curiosity, even observation, but no hostility.
Zhao Layue agreed to the invitation.
She didn't want Jing Jiu to know about it.
It was because Guo Dong was the personal disciple of Lian Sanyue.
In an ordinary inn in Zhaoge City.
The customers in the inn were discussing the chess game on Chess Board Mountain.
Shi Fengchen took a sip of the slightly sour yellow wine before saying, "Zhao Layue will be dead in three days."
A thin old man, sitting across Shi Fengchen, didn't show any reaction as he kept on putting pine nuts into his mouth numbly.
The name of this old man was Lian Xinchen, an ordinary official in Zhaoge City; but few people knew he was a close cousin of Grand Teacher Liang.
And Grand Teacher Liang was the Crown Prince's teacher.
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