Jing Jiu was somewhat surprised when hearing the mention of a seal. The most respected Emperor in ancient times had a royal seal made of the precious jade from heaven; unfortunately, that royal seal had been lost somehow. It was quite a coincidence that the first sect master of the Center Sect happened to acquire the lost royal jade, and he used the Ultimate Mystery Method to cut it into two, tempering them into two magic treasures after many years in the Cloud Dream Mountain, and they were named the Ten-Thousand Mile Seal. After the ascension of the first sect master of the Center Sect, the Ten-Thousand Mile Seal had been kept on Cloud Dream Mountain. It was said that the seal had the power of passing through the space and time, and was the magic treasure of the highest state at the Center Sect; it was even more precious than the Heavenly Retrieval Orb.
Even though Bai Zao was the most favored daughter of the Sect Master couple of the Center Sect, it was still a surprise to know that she had such a precious magic treasure with her.
If any other Cultivation practitioners had known about this, and as they were in such a dangerous situation, some of them might have had the intent of killing her to obtain the magic treasure.
However, she had just revealed such a top secret to Jing Jiu.
"Why don't you leave?" asked Jing Jiu.
"At the beginning, my intention was the same as yours, to help my colleagues of the Center Sect if they were in danger and then leave afterwards."
Bai Zao added, "But I didn't anticipate the situation would change so suddenly and unexpectedly."
In fact, she had another reason why she hadn't left yet.
If Jing Jiu had encountered any danger, she could help him leave as well.
Yet, it was then that the bamboo board on her wrist had lit up.
That was the signal from her Big Brother.
Since Luo Huainan was such a proud person, it must be an extremely perilous situation he was in, if he ever needed to ask for help.
But, under the current circumstance, how could she leave Jing Jiu?
"Oh, that's why. Sit tight."
As soon as Jing Jiu finished making the remark, he had already ridden the sword toward the deep end of the cold fog.
Bai Zao didn't expect him to make the decision so suddenly, feeling somewhat surprised, so she instinctively reached her hands out to clutch his waist belt.
The iron sword had sped up even more, turning into a black line instantly; and the light rays of those magic treasures in the sky had been soon blocked by the layers of cold fog, and then were out of sight.
The morning sun had risen up, and its warm red light rays brightened the enshrouding clouds outside the railings.
The highest building at the West Mountain Residence was not as peaceful as it had been a few days earlier, as it was filled with the intense and depressing atmosphere at the moment.
Both the chief monk of the Baotong Zen Temple and the Sect Master of Kunlun had troubled looks on their faces.
The Ten-Thousand Mile Map in front of the sect masters and the elders had lost its ability to work, because the cold fog enshrouding the mountains blocked the scenes.
A flying sedan landed outside the railing, and the commander of the Pure Heaven Bureau walked in solemnly, saying, "The initial counting has finished."
State Duke He lifted his head abruptly and asked, "How many?"
The commander of the Pure Heaven Bureau replied, "Forty-three, and the number could go up later."
Upon hearing this, it became deathly quiet in the room, the atmosphere growing even more depressed.
Even though the Cultivation tournament of the Plum Meeting had been always dangerous, when had such a situation ever occurred?
More than forty participants had died in a single morning!
Though those participants were young and not in a high Cultivation state, they were a bunch of talented disciples specially nurtured by their sects, so they could be considered as the future of the orthodox Cultivation world.
This kind of loss was quite heavy no matter how one looked at it.
State Duke He took a deep breath before saying, "It's fortunate that the Young Zen Master has reminded us in time, otherwise more people might have died in the overwhelming fog."
The chief monk of the Baotong Zen Temple asked with an upsetting tone, "What kind of fog is this? Why it's so bizarre?! I've just heard that the fog is even colder than it was a few days ago."
"Yes. The fog is extremely heavy today, and it doesn't show any sign of dispersing; so it would be very difficult to find all the participants," the commander of the Pure Heaven Bureau responded.
Looking at the Sect Master of Kunlun, Nan Wang and others, State Duke He asked, "Is it possible to search a little deeper?"
Before the Sect Master of Kunlun, Nan Wang and others could respond, the commander of the Pure Heaven Bureau shook his head as he said, "The chaotic winds above the snowland, influenced by the strange fog, has gotten stronger; as such, the magic boats of various sects can't hold on much longer, to say nothing of going deeper into the mountains."
The warm red light rays penetrated the railing and window, landing on the sect masters and the elders, but they couldn't perceive any warmth, but only the chill.
The mountain range ten thousand miles away must be many times colder than it was here.
If the rescuers couldn't push their way forward, what about those young disciples who were trapped deep in the mountains?
It was especially so for the Luo Huainan's and Tong Lu's groups, because they had already reached the deep part of the mountain range…
Looking down at the magic treasure briefly, the commander of the Pure Heaven Bureau told others, "Master Monk Duhai has already entered the mountains."
Upon hearing this, the Elder of the Center Sect had a slightly relieved expression on his face, thinking that since the Principal Justice of the Fruit Formation Temple had offered a helping hand, a few more disciples should be saved as a result.
State Duke He said, "The Sect Master of Windy-Broadsword and the commander of Northern Magic Army have received the decree from the Emperor. I believe they are on their way going there right now."
"They must hurry up. Otherwise, I'm afraid that those participants might be trapped in there and in dire danger if they hadn't reached them soon enough."
The Sect Master of Kunlun continued coldly, "I'm not making it sound desperate. Even the Cold-Signal Bird I sent has a hard time to withstand the cold air in the fog, how long can they hold out?"
In the deep end of the mountain range, the cold fog was extremely thick and cold.
Two strong bands of energy appeared, along with the whistling winds which hurled up the rocks and the accumulated snow on the ground, driving the thick fog away to create a space of about one hundred square feet.
Both the commander of Northern Magic Army and the Sect Master of Windy-Broadsword had arrived at the same time, eying each other.
These two powerful swordsmen in the north had disliked each other for many years, and the fact that they eyed each other that day didn't have any mocking intention, it was simply because they were quite surprised to see each other.
This patch of cold fog was really strange, and even the zhenyuan in their bodies couldn't operate properly, let alone those young disciples.
They had given up the hope that the Luo Huainan's and Tong Lu's groups would have any survivors.
The cold fog ahead had suddenly changed its form.
Monk Duhai walked out from the fog with two people in his arms, who were Tong Lu and one of his partners.
While Tong Lu's partner was unconscious, he was somehow wide awake, struggling nonstop. "Put me down! Put me down!" he yelled.
As Monk Duhai opened his arm, Tong Lu fell on the snowy ground; and he got up with tremendously effort, and then rushed into the fog again with wobbling steps.
The Sect Master of Windy-Broadsword slapped him to the ground, bellowing angrily, "The cold air is very strong over there, and we can't even stay there for too long. Do you have a death wish?!"
"But Luo Huainan is still in there!"
Tong Lu struggled to get up on his feet, as he said in a trembling voice, "I have to save him. I must go to save him."
The Sect Master of Windy-Broadsword and the commander of Northern Magic Army eyed each other, feeling baffled.
Though the relationship between the Center Sect and the West Ocean Sword Sect was getting better, it wasn't so close; and moreover, the competition between Luo Huainan and Tong Lu was quite vehement in this year's Cultivation tournament; and it was this reason that their groups had entered so deep into the northern part of the mountains. However, Tong Lu's behavior showed he and Luo Huainan seemed to have a friendship in which they could sacrifice their lives for each other.
"He's in trouble for saving me. I can't leave him there!"
Tong Lu slapped his own face like a madman, yelling, "I have to go save him to keep my honor."
The Sect Master of Windy-Broadsword furrowed his eyebrows slightly before he knocked Tong Lu out with his palm. "Master, how is the situation there?" he asked Monk Duhai.
Monk Duhai's brows were full of frost. He said sorrowfully, "The extremely low temperature is only one problem, and another problem is that I feel the uneasiness of my Zen Heart whenever I take a step in there."
The Sect Master of Windy-Broadsword and the commander of Northern Magic Army eyed each other one more time, thinking in surprise that if the Principal Justice of the Fruit Formation Temple couldn't even uphold his Zen Heart, what chances did others have to survive the ordeal.
"It looks like Luo Huainan couldn't be saved. Let's go," the Sect Master of Windy-Broadsword said with a grim expression.
"Wait a minute. Bai Zao is in there as well," said the commander of Northern Magic Army.
Monk Duhai said with a sigh, "And Jing Jiu."
Each of them had been bestowed certain requests that were hard for them to turn down before entering the cold fog.
The commander of Northern Magic Army was an official of the imperial court, so he had a close relationship with the Center Sect.
Monk Duhai was asked by the Young Zen Master specifically to take care of Jing Jiu.
The Sect Master of Windy-Broadsword said to the commander of Northern Magic Army, "The Center Sect told me that Bai Zao has a magic treasure that can reveal its owner's position."
The commander of Northern Magic Army said, "I haven't found the position of the magic treasure. I guess it's too far away."
The Sect Master of Windy-Broadsword felt perplexed as he asked, "It was that disciple named Jing Jiu who had discovered the problem first, but why did he rush into the cold fog himself?"
Nobody knew the answer for this question.
The cold fog had gradually gathered together again, and a band of energy was showing now and then in the deep end of the fog.
The Sect Master of Windy-Broadsword suddenly changed his expression. "We can't stay here any longer," he urged.
Looking in the direction of the cold fog, Monk Duhai sighed one more time, the prayer beads in his hands exuding many light rays to illuminate the path ahead.
The Sect Master of Windy-Broadsword and the commander of Northern Magic Army hauled up Tong Lu and the young disciple who was still unconscious respectively; and they used their magic treasures to fly through the cold fog and get back on the Cloudy Boat of the Center Sect.
The Elder of the Center Sect found that they hadn't brought Luo Huainan and Bai Zao with them, and his expression looked quite troubled.
Yet, he was aware that the situation was dire; so he didn't say anything before he ordered the Cloudy Boat to fly south against the chaotic wind.
Monk Duhai walked back to the side of the boat after talking to this Elder of the Center Sect in a low voice for a brief moment, looking at the snowland and mountains below.
It was soundless and nothing could be seen underneath. And the mountains had all become invisible; all Monk Duhai could see was the boundless cold fog.
It was white everywhere down there.
Tong Lu had woken up, looking at the clouds around him.
The clouds had changed into many different shapes and images when being blown by the chaotic wind, but the changing clouds couldn't change Tong Lu's eye expression.
His frost bitten fingers were very painful and itchy at the moment, but this condition didn't affect his eye expression either.
His eye expression looked numb and lifeless, as Tong Lu was thinking of those terrible experiences.
His mind was occupied by those hideous snow worms, the deaths of his partners, his own despair, and the appearance of Luo Huainan's tall figure.
Later, that tall figure disappeared in a worm's cave-like mouth.
"You have to survive this."
Tong Lu murmured with a pale face, "Otherwise, it would be meaningless for me to beat you this way."
Either because he had been preoccupied with the Cultivation tournament and didn't pay attention to the outside news, or because he was overwhelmed by the experience to become disoriented, he wasn't even aware that Jing Jiu had won first place in this year's Cultivation tournament.
Monk Duhai glanced at Tong Lu, and he had the same question as the Sect Master of Windy-Broadsword.
Jing Jiu was the first one who had perceived the danger, but why did he rush into the fog? By now, they didn't even know if he was alive or dead.
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