Jing Jiu thought about it seriously while looking at her for a while.
This was their first meeting that night, and so how should he evaluate her?
The appearance had never been important for him, but from their conversations, the young woman showed that she had very good temperament and personality.
But is my opinion of you so important?
It wasn't until he recalled that Bai Zao had earlier on asked whether the relationship between him and Zhao Layue was that of Cultivation partners that Jing Jiu understood her intention.
Jing Jiu said, "I won't consider this kind of thing, and it has nothing to do with you."
"So it means that I'm not too bad in your eyes."
Bai Zao's eyes suddenly brightened, like the stream water lit by the morning sunlight.
Jing Jiu said, "As I have heard somewhere, Luo Huainan and Tong Yan are possible partners of yours."
Bai Zao explained gently, "Big Brother Luo is the disciple of my father, and Tong Yan is the disciple of my mother. My parents have their own ideas, but they are not mine."
"Why don't you choose them?" Jing Jiu asked.
Regardless of everything, Luo Huainan and Tong Yan were her best partner choices, unless Zuo Ruosui and Guo Nanshan also jumped in the competition.
Bai Zao responded with a gentle smile, "Because I don't like them."
Suddenly Jing Jiu felt this matter was getting troublesome, asking, "Do you actually like me?"
Talking about liking at their first meeting was kind of awkward.
"Yes," replied Bai Zao, giving out a charming smile.
Jing Jiu asked, "What do you like about me?"
Bai Zao said, "I like the way you play chess. It's really beautiful, though you insist on believing that chess playing is merely a pastime, having nothing to do with beauty and ugliness."
"I perhaps won't play chess anymore," said Jing Jiu.
Bai Zao said, "I heard that your swordplay is the best on the Green Mountain, which I also like very much."
Jing Jiu thought about it before saying, "I seldom use the sword."
Bai Zao said, "This time I have given up painting and participated in calligraphy instead, as I was inspired by your chess game. I heard that you have a disciple on the Green Mountain and that he is also outstanding."
Jing Jiu said after a moment of silence, "Gu Qing…not bad, but it's because he has a good temperament; it has nothing to do with me."
Bai Zao said, "I like your careless attitude the most. Perhaps it's because I care about too many things, and I can't act the way you do. It's for that reason that I think you are the best."
Jing Jiu was fully aware that it would be a difficult thing to change his careless and lazy temperament. "As a matter of fact…I have been cultivating very hard," said Jing Jiu after some thoughts.
Being refused four times in a row, Bai Zao didn't get upset as she said gently, "I like your look the most."
Jing Jiu stopped talking, because he couldn't cut himself on the face with the Thoughtless Sword.
Bai Zao said, "I'm not a natural-born talent, so my cultivation was quite difficult. Though my outside appearance looks feeble, I have developed a straightforward temperament. I hope that you don't think I'm too direct."
Jing Jiu said, "I understand. I can also say directly: this matter has no future."
Bai Zao left.
Jing Jiu lifted up the teacup and walked to the window, looking at the night sky.
The tea was still cold.
As he said those last words, Bai Zao didn't say anything, merely looking at him once.
Jing Jiu didn't know how to describe the look in her eyes—implicit affection? Or was it explicit?
He couldn't understand what her eyes were saying.
It was because he had seen this kind of expression many times in his previous long years, and he had seen less of i after he stayed behind closed doors on Shenmo Peak.
Actually, he had often stayed behind closed doors on Shenmo Peak and not come out for twenty or even thirty years, because he thought these expressions of the eyes were too troublesome.
Even now, he would still avoid certain places due to these eye expressions, such as Qingrong Peak…
He didn't expect to see such an expression at this Plum Meeting.
Bai Zao was a warmhearted and loving young woman, the opposite of her feeble appearance.
She was quite outstanding.
What could he do then?
All he had to do was avoid her, just like he had done before.
The next morning, Jing Jiu woke up on the bamboo chair.
This time he remembered to bring the bamboo chair with him, so he seldom slept in bed.
The sunlight shone on the begonia trees outside the window. The flowers were about to die, but the trees looked even more greenish and pleasing to the eyes.
Jing Jiu took down his iron sword from the bookshelf and called out the sword fire with his hand to wash his face, then left the Jing house.
Some disciples of the Green Mountain were keeping their eyes on the Jing house this entire time, as they were worried that Jing Jiu might do something stupid; and eyes of other sects or groups were also staring at this place. However, they couldn't discover that Jing Jiu had already left the house.
When Jing Jiu wanted to disappear, nobody could sense his energy.
It was like back then when the high-level swordsman of Bihu Peak attempted to kill Zhao Layue on Sword Peak.
It was a common family on a common street.
Jing Jiu pushed open the courtyard door and saw two chickens looking for food on the ground, their heads lowered.
These two chickens were very thin, and the remaining bran shells and the dry left-over bok choy on the ground indicated that the meals for these chickens were usually very poor.
Jing Jiu eyed the whole small courtyard once before entering the room.
Looking at the man sleeping by leaning his body on the desk, Jing Jiu asked, "Who asked you to do it?"
Shi Fengchen had been quite busy the past two days, unlike during his former days of leisure. He had to search everywhere outside Zhaoge City because of the assassination case concerning Zhao Layue. He had to busy himself with reading the files when he got back in the city. Last night he got home late, and fell asleep while reading the previous files a few times.
Hearing the voice, Shi Fengchen lifted up his head from the desk, rubbing his sore eyes.
The blurry picture had gradually become clear, turning into a long figure.
Then, he saw that unforgettable face. His whole body felt like cold water had been poured on it, waking him up instantly.
The case of Mingcui Valley had set off much conjectures and discussion.
The perpetrator was determined to be the elder Wei Chenzi of the Center Sect in the Yuanying State.
Who was the main conspirator behind the scene?
Until now, Royal Concubine Hu was the main suspect.
Everybody knew that she had a grudge against Zhao Layue, and the grudge could be described as unforgiving.
Besides, she and the Center Sect were on good terms. She had the power to persuade the elder of the Center Sect in the Yuanying State to do it based on her status in the imperial palace.
Some people had already ascertained that Wei Chenzi was the assassin of the Old Ones; so then, who could ask the Old Ones to do so?
Due to the residual soul fire in the wild forest of the Mingcui Valley, many people suspected that this might be a scheme of the Underworld.
The Underworld might want to use this event to cause conflict between two major orthodox Cultivation sects in Chaotian, benefitting from the chaos.
Yet this was all mere conjecture, with no evidence to back it up.
The truth resembled a sky blocked out by countless layers of fog. One was fully aware that the sky is right there, but they couldn't see it.
Nobody had connected Shi Fengchen with the main conspirator of this assassination attempt, though he had led the high-level swordsmen of the Pure Heaven Bureau to pursue Zhao Layue and Jing Jiu on land for a long time, and even though he had said some hateful words to Zhao Layue in front of many Cultivation practitioners at the Four-Seas Banquet.
Understandably, he had to say those words as an official of the imperial court.
What power did Shi Fengchen, a marginalized official of the Pure Heaven Bureau, have to threaten the Green Mountain Sect? What qualifications did he have to do such a major thing?
As an official, he might not have the courage.
Nobody had suspected Shi Fengchen.
However, Jing Jiu had found him directly in his own home, and asked such a question.
Jing Jiu's expression was fairly calm, his tone casual, but the way he put the question gave the listener the feeling that it was completely irrefutable.
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