"I knew that, and that is why he died three years ago," said Gu Qing.
Glancing at him once, Jing Jiu said, "It would be impossible for those elderly men to do it, so how did he die?"
Gu Qing was slightly surprised, wondering how his master could figure this out. "Senior Master Layue was determined to kill him, and so he's dead," Gu Qing explained.
It was Jing Jiu's turn to feel surprised, as he thought Layue needed at least four more years to surpass Luo Huainan, how could she have killed him three years ago?
Gu Qing told him about what had happened three years ago in full detail.
After learning that the event had involved Liu Shisui, and Tong Yan who sat across him in front of the chess board, Jing Jiu fell silent for a while, then signaled for Gu Qing to continue.
Gu Qing said, "Shisui has vanished without a trace ever since, and nobody knows where he is. Senior Master Layue is behind closed doors, ready to break through the Free Travel State."
"Not bad," Jing Jiu remarked. No one knew whether he was commenting on Liu Shisui's disappearance or Zhao Layue's readiness to break through into a new state.
Gu Qing didn't forget mentioning an important detail, saying, "The First Child Sword used to kill Luo Huainan was given by the Emperor."
Jing Jiu felt a bit surprised, asking, "Is it the sword that was owned by that old guy in the southern sea?"
"Yes," Gu Qing replied. "Afterward, Sect Master went to the Cloud Dream Mountain."
Jing Jiu said, "The Center Sect Master couple should understand clearly that the Emperor didn't have any specific purpose when he gave the sword to you two; it was simply a friendly gesture."
Gu Qing was surprised again, wondering how his master could be so certain.
Gu Qing suddenly remembered something and said, "The leader of the team is Fang Jingtian this time."
After hearing this name, Jing Jiu recalled the night when the fake manor cave of the Immortal Jing Yang was opened six years ago. "No worries," said he after a moment of silence.
The two of them returned to the cave when they finished talking.
It was obvious that Bai Zao was cultivating a special magic method in the cave and had reached a critical moment.
The disciples of the Center Sect were operating a formation outside the cave, preventing anybody from getting close to the cave; but of course, they didn't stop Jing Jiu from entering.
If Jing Jiu wanted to harm Bai Zao, he could have done so any time over the six years while they were in the cave under the snowland.
After entering the cave, Jing Jiu motioned for Gu Qing and Young Yuan to take a rest. He walked to the corner of the cave, looking up at the snow cocoon.
Those thin and dense threads looked like gold or jade, and though the cocoon itself didn't look totally snow white, he was still used to calling it the "snow cocoon" in his own mind. It was because these cocoon threads were made from the fluids in the snow worm's corpse, which could help insulate Bai Zao from the extreme cold. The fact that Bai Zao had survived six years at such low temperatures was due largely to that.
Many glowing orbs were placed in the cave, and their mild lights fell on the snow cocoon, making the thin and feeble figure inside it even more visible.
With his eyesight like a sword, Jing Jiu could see through the cocoon threads the young woman's tightly closed eyes and pale lips.
Six years ago, when he taught Bai Zao this magic method, he merely intended to help her rebuild the broken Golden Pill as a trial.
Unexpectedly, the magic method Bai Zao learned on the Cloud Dream Mountain since her youth was quite suitable for combining it with the magic method of the Water-Moon Nunnery.
Without the aid of the magic pills and crystals, and in the environment where it was difficult to absorb the spiritual energy of heaven and earth, what she had achieved after staying in trance for six years far surpassed Jing Jiu's expectations.
Of course, this magic method included the wisdom of the Young Zen Master. This method emphasized the mind over matter, so it needed less of the materials from the external world in comparison to other magic methods.
Seeing that the young woman had a layer of lipstick-like color on her lips, Jing Jiu was certain that she was fine, and walked to the other side of the cave.
This side was close by the cliff's edge. The cold fog in the darkness of night hadn't dispersed yet, assaulting his face like countless steel needles.
Jing Jiu had been used to such cold, and he gazed below the cliff with a normal expression.
In the deep part of the cold fog, the wind and snow rose up, though this didn't have an effect on this place since it was a few miles away from the cave entrance.
The snow worms in the cliff wall had climbed out of the cave a long time ago. They had climbed to the deep end of the fog along the cliff wall, which still had their remaining fluids, gleaming in the darkness of night. Tens of thousands of snow foot monsters were heading northward at a high speed from the deep end of the cold fog. He had seen many demon monsters among them the first time, including a few white snow monsters that hopped like rabbits.
He reached out his hand from the cliff's edge, and a snow beetle bug appeared in his palm after he willed it slightly.
Compared to six years ago, this snow beetle bug's body size hadn't changed much, but it wasn't as transparent as before and exuded a cold intent throughout.
Its shell was as if being made from the ten-thousand years old icy jade, seeming impossible to break open.
The moment Jing Jiu turned his hand, the snow beetle bug that had pretended to be dead suddenly woke up and extended its six bamboo-like thin white legs to hold onto his palm tightly, crying urgently, like the icy snow colliding with the cliff wall.
Jing Jiu felt slightly bewildered as he sensed its intention, wondering why it wanted to stay with him; though the Green Mountain wasn't hot, it wasn't cold enough for a being of the Snow Kingdom to live its life comfortably.
Since it was the snow beetle bug that wanted to go with him, Jing Jiu didn't mind it, then put it in his sleeve.
Then, he lifted his head to look at the north.
His sight passed through the darkness of night and cold fog, and through the violent wind and snow that was further away, fell on the lonely peak ten-thousand miles away.
That will power had become a lot more peaceful now than it had been three years ago, and not as short tempered and sensitive as before.
But somehow he felt even worse now.
It was because this peacefulness foretold something even more terrible, as long as that being's instinct of eliminating all lives had not changed.
He understood what his Big Brother wanted to show him.
"I'll leave this place now," Jing Jiu said to the lonely peak in the long distance.
The lonely peak didn't respond.
Jing Jiu turned around and got back in the cave.
The night grew late. Gu Qing woke up; he took out another Baicao Pill to help Jing Jiu take it.
Then, he walked out of the cave and sat by Xiang Wanshu, asking, "What are their instructions?"
"They want us to be cautious, and to bring them back as soon as possible," said Xiang Wanshu.
Gu Qing was a bit surprised, and pressed, "Nobody is going to come?"
Xiang Wanshu turned around to have a glance of the cave, saying sentimentally, "I have no idea how they have survived all these years."
Gu Qing thought about the tattered white clothing his master was wearing and his weak body, sighing, "Neither do I."
Xiang Wanshu moved closer to Gu Qing and asked in a whisper, "Did Jing Jiu…Did Senior Master say anything about my Big Sister's condition?"
Gu Qing said, "If my master says she's fine, then you have nothing to worry about."
The next day.
The snow cocoon in the cave had experienced a delicate change. As the wind blew over it, the surface of the cocoon swayed like the surface of water, as if it got softer.
The disciples of the Center Sect noticed this change, feeling even more nervous now.
Gu Qing had confirmed that the masters of the two sects didn't intend on coming here; it was something he hadn't anticipated.
By dusk, the sunset illuminated the cliff walls. Jing Jiu stood up and picked up the bamboo chair, heading toward the outside of the cave.
The disciples of the Center Sect who were operating the formation outside the cave wondered in surprise where he was heading. Xiang Wanshu was the first one to react, looking at the inside of the cave nervously.
A piece of thread flew up from the cocoon, and its head looked like a beautiful butterfly drifting gently in the air while being tousled by the wind, as if it wanted to break off from the thread behind it.
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