The man in black didn't dare to stay around: he took back the magic treasure and fled immediately.
He jumped into the air by stepping onto a leaf, and his body turned into a shadow. At that moment, he couldn't care if anybody could discover him: he was about to ride his sword and flee.
But unexpectedly, the moment the tip of his toe left the leaf, the sky instantly turned dark.
There was a thick black fog settled atop the forest, as though it had been waiting for him the entire time.
The black fog landed directly on his face.
Darkness filled the vision of the man in black.
He dropped onto the fallen leaves like a rock, without any more life force in him.
The dense black fog quivered slightly with the wind but did not disperse. Inside it, a pale face was intermittently visible.
The wind picked up again, making the fog drop to the ground and move silently forward, looking like the black eaves of the Taichang Temple washed by rain—the horns of the old dragon.
The black fog was about to enter a crevice in the cliff, when it suddenly twisted violently the moment it was about to disappear into the crevice.
The pale face in the fog was numbly expressionless, but its expression suddenly changed as its face distorted into a face of shock and anger.
A huge hand came from nowhere…and caught the dark fog.
The huge hand glowed, shimmering in green.
Its shade of green was like fresh grass, but also like a rotten corpse.
These two aspects of the hand should have given totally different feelings, but they merged into a singular perception, giving rise to a sense of dread and eeriness.
The huge green hand tightened its grip.
The black fog tried its best to escape, but in vain.
Soon, with a low and angry howl, the black fog suddenly dispersed, as it turned into innumerable soul-fires.
These soul-fires were the high-level ones. They remained colorless and soundless even after having travelled countless miles from the Underworld to Chaotian Land.
If these soul-fires were allowed to scatter in the cliffs, it would be impossible for them to be discovered by the Cultivation practitioners. They might become irate souls in a couple of hundred years.
The pity was that these soul-fires were not as fortunate as those on Shenmo Peak. The soul-fires and remaining black fog were directly blown into a cave by a gust of strong wind.
The black fog disappeared without a trace; the visibility recovered. The cave was actually a mouth.
A mouth with many tiny teeth.
The person's nose was thick and round, and red at the tip, making it look like an unripe red radish.
The person's eyes were sunken, like deep caves.
The person was a short old man without much vitality, but one could sense that he had an unparalleled energy.
Having swallowed the soul-fires, the old man had no reason to stay. He flapped both arms like a large bird, and silently flew through the thick forest. After a moment he had become just a black dot on the horizon. When he reappeared, he had already visited another cliff's edge a hundred miles away, north of Zhaoge City.
A young man had been sitting by the cliff's edge.
He held a bamboo rod, with a thin line hanging off its head. The line dropped into the flowing clouds between the cliffs, making it look like he was fishing.
How could fish live in the clouds? Was he fishing for birds?
"I admire you. I didn't think you could use the Underworld for your purpose."
The short old man said to the young man, "This little devil of the Underworld wasn't bad - he could kill the Elder of the Center Sect in the Yuanying State at a great distance."
The young man kept looking straight ahead, as he stared at the flowing clouds below the cliff's edge with an expression of extreme focus.
The clouds stirred a little as some black dots moved here and there amongst them.
The invisible flying birds made cackling screams when they saw the food tied to the end of the fishing line, sounding viciously hungry.
Watching the chaotic scenes in the clouds, the young man shook his head, then started answering the old man's questions.
"The third disciple of the Underworld is of course not bad, though he could only come in shadow; otherwise, I didn't have to ask for your help."
The old man gave an unpleasant laugh, and asked, "When will you fish out the Underworld Master? I haven't seen him for a long time, and he hasn't shown himself for even longer. It would be interesting."
The young man said, "They are a bunch of pitiful old men who are scared of our Green Mountain. You don't dare to show up; how could he dare to show up?"
The old man remained silent for a moment, then asked, "Are you sure that the Green Mountain Sect don't know that I'm out already?"
"Who knows that the Green Mountain is the best in this world?"
The young man inserted the bamboo rod into a crack near the cliff's edge and turned toward the old man. Then he pointed his thumb toward his face, and said with a smile, "It's me…"
His smile made his cold and indifferent face instantly look far lovelier. His expression was friendly, though there was a suggestion of indifference.
Looking at this face, the old man thought of something as he said with a sigh, "I have been hiding underground for several hundred years already. The world outside has changed so much. However, it's really sad that someone like you has to hide in various places."
The young man said, arching an eyebrow, "You have said too much."
The old man suddenly grew serious and said, "I want to eat a few people because I'm really hungry. Those soul-fires didn't taste nice. It would be better to eat some men, even if I don't manage to eat any young girls."
The young man felt helpless. He put away his bamboo rod and walked the old man towards the edge of the cliff.
The old man followed closely behind.
Glancing at the old man, the young man said, "Somehow I feel like I'm raising a dog."
The old man said in a fawning tone, "If you could wipe out the Green Mountain to get rid of my problem, I'd be your dog for three hundred years."
The young man replied, "But you have to protect me for now. Don't let those two ungrateful disciples of mine kill me."
The old man smiled bitterly, and said, "I'm unable to beat them now."
"So we have to hurry up."
The young man sighed while reaching out his hand to rub the old man's head.
The flowing clouds below the cliff's edge had gradually quietened, because the birds were nowhere to be found.
The forest on the mountain was illuminated by a flash of cold sword light, followed by a bright golden light.
Nan Wang and Gongfeng Jing arrived at the scene first, with the rest of the disciples of the Green Mountain following in tandem.
Seeing the corpse of the man in black, their expressions changed.
The hand of the man in black had a sword-wound, and the remaining energy of the magic treasure still lingered; he should have been the culprit who had attacked Zhao Layue.
But why did he die here?
Nan Wang waved her sleeve.
The cloth covering the face of the man in black was moved aside.
His life force was completely gone. The magic changing his appearance had ebbed away, so his real appearance was revealed.
"He is Wei Chenzi!"
Gongfeng Jing was stunned.
Nan Wang looked terrible, in shock.
It was utterly quiet in the field.
The person who wanted to kill Zhao Layue was indeed someone from the Center Sect, and also an elder in the Yuanying State.
Nan Wang asked, "How did he die?"
Gongfeng Jing waved his hand, spreading resembling gold powder across an area of three hundred square feet.
The golden powder gradually thinned, but some scenes could be seen although they were still very vague. Observers could determine what they were from the energy alone.
The disciples of the Green Mountain couldn't help but scream in surprise.
The demons of the Underworld had appeared!
"It's very strong, only a little weaker than yours and mine, and it was only a shadow," Gongfeng Jing said solemnly as he felt the residual energy of the soul-fires.
Nan Wang said nothing.
That was why Wei Chenzi, an Elder of the Center Sect in the Yuanying State, died after just one touch, and why his Yuanying didn't even escape.
The disciples of the Green Mountain eyed each other, speechless. The atmosphere was grimly depressing, and also frighteningly eerie.
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